Heir to the Empire was first published in 1991 and written by Timothy Zahn. The latter, along with other members of Lucasfilm, created a dynamic character not seen in Star Wars. An alien who is a military genius, from a race of people who are an oligarchy not based on bloodlines, but by acceptance into their “families.” Thrawn became a part of the Empire at some point, then left for some time. After the known Star Wars story in the movies show that the Empire fell, in 4-8 years, Thrawn returned to take back, which was that of the Empire, and restore it. He did well in the trilogy, and then he died at the hands of his guard, Rukh, upon his final attack on the New Republic.
When Disney announced the production of the Sequel Trilogy when they bought Lucasfilm in 2012, fans hoped the Heir to the Empire Trilogy would be the next story. But it was not. The old stories told by authors that no longer work for Lucasfilm became Legends, and Disney stated they were writing new stories. It set a schism between fans, and no matter their alignments, fans got angry. Disney, Lucasfilm did not care.
The only way to stay sane was to stay out of those discussions. Some longtime fans chose to leave the Star Wars Fandom, take a wait-and-see mentality, or dive right in (which toxic fans called “shills”). It was at a time that hate among people was escalating in 2014. By the time the first Sequel aired, The Force Awakens, the attacks had deepened. With battle lines drawn, in between were fans that wanted no part in that mess.
But the SWAG77 saw an opportunity and took it. Seeing and hearing panel discussions about the future of Star Wars by the Lucasfilm writers, they repeated that as for Legends content, “anything can happen.” Because the owner of SWAG77 was doxed and harassed, she learned that these toxic fans wanted Legends returned for their ranks and positions in the fandom. Fandom is like a civilization development. A political state. Those who seek and have power in a hierarchy. The topmost fan touched the hand of the Star Wars gods – mainly George Lucas and his proteges for bragging rites. To show that they are the top Force Wielder in the galaxy that has power. This power dynamic has grown since the last “good” Star Wars movie aired, “Return of the Jedi” – the Prequels would be scolded for a long time until the Sequels showed up.
It had become an indoctrination ceremony. Between the Original Trilogy to the Prequel Trilogy, Lucasfilm’s TV production was absent. Star Wars The Clone Wars TV show in 2008 started most of the fandom of GenZ, Pre-Millennial, and Millennial demographics. Their age range was from eight years old to 15 years olds who understood and enjoyed watching Star Wars. For children’s television, the fundamental tenets to tell stories to children is to use color in the characters and scenes, lots of action sequences, animal-like characters (the aliens), and voiceover work that sounds similar to a child speaking and learning. The stories could not be adult-complex because children become turned off without action. Besides, the parents monitored their children’s viewership consumption for any adult themes, such as excessive partying with implied alcohol or bloody gore violence (not permitted for children in general). The longevity of the show would have suffered if parents disapproved. The Clone Wars, then the offshoots: The Bad Batch, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Resistance. All of the shows with unique animation character designs, expositions, and settings. And then, the stories that were about the internecine areas between the Skywalker Trilogy movies expounded on the conflicts not covered by the movies.
Guided by George Lucas’ vision, Dave Filoni wove conflicts into the Skywalker Trilogy as an aside of the full Skywalker story to tell stories about other large character classes: The Confederacy of Independent Systems under Count Dooku, the clones in the clone army, the Republic, Coruscant, the Mandalorians, the many alien species, bounty hunters, several planets stated but not discussed in the movies, and droids. These stories took on their own lives, and fans’ access to Star Wars, depending on the demographic, is tied to these “children’s stories.” Then the demographic grew up, and their tastes for stories are like most young adults, action with some romance scenes or adult issues scenes, and esoterica. Not a quest story, but a one against the story, an anti-hero/anti-villain, inner turmoil, and conflict. The movies do set a precedent for inner turmoil and conflict. But how a character manages it is different in design that recapitulation of the same story. Sadly, in some way, there is deep inner turmoil in the Sequels; these conflicts feel alien to longtime fans. Nascent fans did not invest in similar material or activities like longtime fans who spent a lot of money on conventions and cosplay and reading the Legends books. They felt Disney abandoned them, and in some ways, they did. But the deep wound of it is because these fans accessed the Star Wars content as children who developed their sense of morality as CHILDREN. Welling up feeling from childhood abandonment is remembered as a traumatic experience. As adults, they will fight to “never feel that abandonment again” – ever.
Hence the toxicity and the vitriol. The fans will do it by any means necessary in an immature and childish way: use whatever hurts the “other” so they are obliterated and destroyed. It looks like silencing dissenting voices on social media, swatting fans and creators, doxing fans and creators, creating extensive hate-filled rants to mob against ONE person. Their ire spreads dissent across the fandom, enabling less savory groups to implement misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories to unsuspecting fans. These fans are often susceptible to manipulation, possible immobilized thinking, and cognitive dissonance, leading to the Dunning-Krueger effect. Or they are nascent Star Wars fans who loved the movies and did not know the shitshow was going on. To some longtime fans who are much older (general, some are GenX and above), these actions are ridiculous. Many older longtime fans who re-entered fandom could not be bothered with that foolishness. The central theme in the Star Wars Actors Guild 77 (SWAG77) has been our “Get Thrawn In” Campaign and “Thrawn In A Movie” Campaign. In 2016, we learned our influence got Thrawn back into canon with changes. We expected character changes by Lucasfilm. One such character trait is this character’s love of art and how to dissect a culture to defeat it. In several early posts, we felt that Thrawn could be an avenue to expose fans to significant works of genuine fine art. We stumbled on to this fact that many Star Wars fans had no CLUE about fine art. Our plan is incomplete. We hoped a willing cosplayer of Thrawn would visit a fine art museum. He would analyze real-life art, finally saying, “and that is how one defeats the [insert alien group here]” — as a parody. But SWAG77 never got to that, and we have no statistics that it would work. Therefore, the Thrawn account shares images of fine art with Star Wars fans.
As far as Thrawn In A Movie, we predicted that Disney Lucasfilm would test the efficacy of Thrawn in animation first, then live-action television, and then in movies. This process is SLOW for now. Alien characters as LEAD characters do not test well in live-action because the audience has difficulty suspending their disbelief. The actors have to create a new method for the alien. They guess the reaction to humans (called xenotropic autotrophy). Lastly, the alien has to be authentic to the audience; not a character looks like a human with their skin complexion painted or an alien that is just a human in a costume. The Alien series, the Original and Prequel Star Wars Trilogies, ET, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers have achieved very few films. With the advent of CG, there were several new possibilities. But acting in strange characters takes skill and is not easy to do. A popular character like Thrawn has several written books. The actor has to have technical skills, film editing for the story for the consideration of Thrawn. While Disney Lucasfilm is capable of giving that experience, fans are distrustful. Disney Lucasfilm will do everything within its power to create its best reflection of Thrawn regarding the literature, tropes, and storytelling. But, these toxic fans will still be dissatisfied with Disney Lucasfilm Thrawn because the creation fails to fulfill their fan-fiction imaginations. But, a huge movie/distribution/streaming corporation like Disney will maximize as many audiences they can reach, and this one complaint is already unreachable. Why invest in toxic fans fantasizing delusions? Especially since longtime fans are open to new ideas, and nascent fans who are already excited about the newness will enjoy whatever story told about Grand Admiral Thrawn?
Disney Lucasfilm will choose the longtime fans who accept openly to welcome new stories and nascent fans happy to enjoy this aspect of fandom. More fans in these demographics than fans who pursue an irrational ship buried in a book and not added to a movie or TV production. That is a fact.
One more demographic of fans comes from a range of generations. Military veterans are gamers, who like reading wargame strategies, model building, and understand actual life military tactics. Military veterans like Grand Admiral Thrawn because e of his battleplans, his tactics, and his battles. He has honor and is a warrior. They see themselves in this character. Someone who understands military duty and follows orders makes decisions based on military strategy and tactics learned and trained for years. They have mostly read Heir To The Empire. Disney Lucasfilm should explain to military veterans why they are producing the Thrawn stories in this manner. They would understand and explain it to fans who do not understand and nascent fans clarifications — again from a military background and perspective. For example, a soldier cannot leave his squad because he disagrees with the orders. He has to follow them to the best of his ability as trained.
Just like in the scene in “Saving Private Ryan,” — gripes go up, not down. And exactly how the Captain described theoretically to a superior officer — grateful for the mission.
MITTH’RAW’NURUODO is a military man. A warrior. He is trained in military sciences specializing in wargame strategies and tactics. He has a problem with limitations and chain of command, but he gets the job done to the allowable point. THRAWN does not comprehend politics. It is his blind spot. Because it is his blind spot, he is that hammer brought to thumbtack. Diplomacy is a part of politics, not military battle. However, if there were ever a battle, Thrawn would have side-by-side for victory or a chance to survive the battle.
SWAG77 believes that Disney Lucasfilm will use aspects of Grand Admiral Thrawn to appeal to the military aspects for Star Wars fans more than anything else.