Speaking with Empire Magazine during Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023, Dave Filoni confirmed that Grand Admiral Thrawn is the big bad threat of the New Republic Era. Despite both Thrawn and protagonist Ezra Bridger seemingly dying in the series finale of Rebels, we got our first glimpse of him in live action in the new Ahsoka trailer. This series seems to be setting him up as the big bad threat that will no doubt head into the recently announced Dave Filoni Star Wars film. The upcoming film will be the “Avengers: Endgame” of the Disney+ series of shows- Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Star Wars: Ahsoka, Star Wars: Skeleton Crew, and Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett.
Speaking to Thrawn being confirmed as the big villain of this era, Filoni detailed, “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? There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like Vader, because it is so iconic. 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. 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-strategize 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.”–ComicBook.com