The Mandalorian and Ahsoka Executive Producer Dave Filoni recently confirmed that he views Thrawn as the big bad in Disney Star Wars’ New Republic era.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 08: Dave Filoni onstage during the Ahsoka panel at Star Wars Celebration 2023 in London at ExCel on April 08, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images for Disney)

Filoni’s comments came in an interview with Empire Magazine that have subsequently been shared to the Star Wars Leaks sub Reddit.

He was asked, “Do you see Thrawn as the big bad of this New Republic era? Is that how you’re positioning him?”

Filoni responded, “Definitely, in my eyes. When Timothy Zahn wrote Heir To The Empire, Thrawn became this very iconic villain, because he was different than anything we’d seen before. He wasn’t another helmet-wearing, lightsaber-wielding bad guy, you know?

Heir to the Empire #1 (1995), Dark Horse Comics

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“There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like Vader, because it is so iconic,” he continued. “But the boldness that Tim had was to make somebody that wasn’t like that, that didn’t have those abilities, but could fight in a different way.”

Filoni added, “In the words Star Wars, the ‘war’ part of it — him being a Grand Admiral, a leader, a military strategist, a Moriarty archetype, someone that will out-think you, out-strategise you — that really resonated. He’s a critical player in this time period. We’re fortunate to have that character, and fortunate to have Lars [Mikkelsen] playing him.”

Grand Admiral Thrawn in Heir to the Empire #1 (1995), Dark Horse Comics

He also detailed he plans on going back to Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire novels as he crafts the story of Thrawn for Disney Star Wars.

“There are a lot of factors, especially in playing with a character like [novelist] Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn — I want to make sure that I’m honouring ideas that Tim had, so I want to see what’s [in his books] for the story,” Filoni said.

“In The Bad Batch, there is actually some crossover with the book Heir To The Empire in the military base of Tantiss,” he relayed. “So there are little things along the way that I’ve built across different mediums, all in preparation for things that come later.”

Grand Admiral Thrawn is strangled by Purrgil in Star Wars Rebels (2017), Lucasfilm

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Thrawn played the antagonist in Filoni’s animated Star Wars Rebels series, where he was defeated by the crew of The Ghost and more specifically Ezra Bridger who engineered the arrival of a bunch of purrgil to attack Thrawn’s fleet. After easily destroying Thrawn’s fleet, Bridger used the Force to take control of them and transported Thrawn’s ship, the Chimaera, into an unknown location.

Thrawn would then be teased during an Ahsoka-focused episode in The Mandalorian Season 2 when Ahsoka confronted Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and questioned her on the location of Thrawn.

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka in The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm

He would again be referenced in The Mandalorian Season 3 as it was revealed a Shadow Council full of Imperial warlords were following instructions from Thrawn and were awaiting for his return.

The first trailer for the upcoming Ahsoka show also confirmed that Thrawn will make his live-action debut.

Scene from Lucasfilm’s AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

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Filoni’s assertion that Thrawn is the big bad seems to imply that he fails at actually defeating the New Republic given the New Republic is soundly defeated by the First Order and a resurrected Darth Sidious by the time of The Rise of Skywalker.

In The Force Awakens, the First Order destroys the New Republic’s capital along with a number of other planets in the Hosnian system. The surviving Resistance fleet is then decimated by the First Order in The Last Jedi. If Thrawn was indeed successful then the New Republic would have been destroyed before the arrival of the First Order and Darth Sidious.

However, there’s always the possibility that Thrawn is defeated, but he’s able to escape capture and retreats to reorganize and refortify his forces to take on the New Republic in the time period after Sidious second defeat.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to really argue that he’s the big bad if he couldn’t even defeat the incompetent New Republic.

Moff Gideon meets with the Shadow Council in 'The Mandalorian' (2023), Disney+

Moff Gideon meets with the Shadow Council in ‘The Mandalorian’ (2023), Disney+

What do you make of Filoni’s assertion that he sees Thrawn as the big bad of the New Republic era?

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