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Star Wars Is Finally Getting Over Its Palpatine Obsession… But Thrawn Could Ruin It

Star Wars is finally moving away from its obsession with Emperor Palpatine, but a certain storyline involving Grand Admiral Thrawn could undo that progress. Palpatine’s return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was highly controversial – not only did it seem convoluted within the context of the Skywalker saga’s overarching narrative, but it also came across as an attempt to cash in on nostalgia. Making Rey a Palpatine was unnecessary, but Star Wars has, at the very least, been trying to make more sense of Darth Sidious’ return through other media since The Rise of Skywalker’s release.


These attempts include comic series like Charles Soule’s The Rise of Kylo Ren, which goes some way to explain how Palpatine manipulated Ben Solo through Snoke. Star Wars: The Bad Batch has also delved into the possible circumstances of Palpatine’s return, taking a closer look at the cloning research that occurred after the rise of the Empire. Even so, Star Wars is a franchise with endless possibilities – it can, and should, move past Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader as its main antagonists. Thankfully, Star Wars has been taking steps in the right direction, with several upcoming projects seemingly neglecting Palpatine entirely. However, the threat of Palpatine could still be looming over a certain corner of the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars Has Avoided The Temptation For More Palpatine In 3 Projects

Three recent and upcoming Star Wars projects have avoided Palpatine in their stories. While it seemed as though The Mandalorian would reveal its cloning storyline as being Palpatine’s failed attempts at Snoke, the clones turned out to be Moff Gideon’s instead – even Grogu’s involvement was explained as Gideon’s plan to gain Force abilities himself. The Acolyte, an upcoming Star Wars show set during the tail end of the High Republic, cannot include Palpatine, as he wasn’t even born yet. Rey’s new Jedi Order movie surely won’t include Palpatine; his being resurrected once again would be a terrible decision and undermine what the movie is supposed to represent: the start of a new Star Wars era.

These projects are all the better because they exclude Palpatine. The Emperor is an iconic villain, one who has undoubtedly provided incredible storytelling moments and interesting plot twists. But a franchise as expansive as Star Wars can’t rely on the legacy of one villain forever, and The Mandalorian, The Acolyte, the High Republic Era at large, and Rey’s upcoming New Jedi Order movie all prove why it’s so important to create new characters or focus on ones that haven’t had a chance to truly shine yet in live-action canon. Enter: Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Star Wars Grand Admiral Thrawn Palpatine

As Ahsoka will partially function as a Star Wars Rebels sequel, it’s no wonder the show is bringing back Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn, both in canon and Legends, has proven to be a formidable enemy and tactical mastermind. He poses a serious threat to the heroes of the Mandoverse and will undoubtedly shake up the status quo. It seems likely that Ahsoka, The Mandalorian season 4, The Mandalorian movie, and perhaps even Star Wars: Skeleton Crew will tell an overarching canon adaptation of the Heir to the Empire storyline. Thrawn, on his own, is an incredibly compelling character, and yet certain hints from The Mandalorian season 3 may link his story to Palpatine’s.

Related: Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn? Star Wars Villain Origin & Future

Should that link exist? Arguably, no, though it’s a tough line to walk. While Project Necromancer and Thrawn’s hinted cloning efforts could be part of Palpatine’s backstory, it seems a shame to have a character as interesting as Thrawn be merely another cog in Palpatine’s master plan. While Star Wars’ efforts to turn Palpatine’s resurrection into something more believable have been mostly successful, there’s a risk of using the remaining Mandoverse story merely as a vehicle to make The Rise of Skywalker more meaningful. But doing that also makes sense, given the Mandoverse’s placement in the timeline. As long as Star Wars stories are being told between the prequel, original, and sequel trilogies, there’s always a risk that Palpatine might overshadow the everything.

This story originally appeared on Screenrant

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