Now that the dust is settling on Star Wars Celebration 2023, it’s time to digest, dissect, and attempt to interpret everything learned over the course of the last several days. Two of the biggest pieces of news, of course, came with respect to Dave Filoni and the upcoming Ahsoka series. First we learned that Filoni will direct an upcoming, feature film. There’s no time table for release, but the film will result in the culmination of the three, ongoing, live-action series. (The Mandalorian; Book of Boba Fett; and Ahsoka.) Regarding the latter, to fans’ delirious delight, is the news that Lars Mikkelsen will reprise his role as Thrawn. Each is amazing news in its own right. Taken together… we’re calling it now: Filoni’s movie will be titled Heir to the Empire, and will adapt the original Thrawn trilogy to the screen.

The signs are all there, from the timeline, to some of the same characters, to Ahsoka even saying “Heir to the Empire” out loud. We all know Dave Filoni well enough by now to know that her uttering those words was one hundred percent by design. How could he adapt Timothy Zahn’s stories to film now, so many years later? Fairly easily, if you really thing about it. So much of the original Thrawn trilogy could translate to this modern era of Star Wars storytelling, especially with Zahn’s input.

Will Dave Filoni bring Heir to the Empire to life?

Thrawn returning from the Unknown Regions to unite the Imperial remnants is a foregone conclusion. That notion, including the timeline, already meshes well with the original books. The attempt to form a fleet outside of official New Republic channels to fight him could also already be in play. (Sure, this time it’s Bo Katan instead of Lando Calrissian raising a fleet, but it would be an adaptation, don’t forget). Add in the recent focus in The Bad Batch on Mt. Tantiss, and, well, the makings of Heir to the Empire, you have.  But what of some of the other, main elements of the novels?

Bridger and Thrawn series
(Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

According to the rumor mill, Luke Skywalker may very well play a significant part in the events of Ahsoka. If Mark Hamill is willing to allow his character to continue on in “Deep Fake” style, then the door opens wide for Mara Jade. Likewise, Talon Karde (the original Thrawn trilogy’s resident “scoundrel”), could also easily jump to live-action.  Rolling it all into an Heir to the Empire adaptation wouldn’t be a stretch, especially with Thrawn’s casting firmly in place.


Sure, there is also a significant chunk of the original stories that likely wouldn’t translate. Carrie Fisher, of course, has passed on. Thus, Leia’s involvement in the story is unlikely. However, Harrison Ford did join Hamill on the Deep Fake bandwagon for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny…. What would be interesting, if Filoni does indeed pull of an Heir to the Empire adaptation, is how they would handle Thrawn’s demise. In “Legends,” he perished by the hand of his own assassin, Rukh. In current canon, Rukh, already (seemingly) met his fate in Star Wars: Rebels.

Heir to the Empire; Thrawn

I know, I know: This is all speculation. Still, when it comes to Dave Filoni, let’s just say the Force is strong with this one. If anyone could make this happen, and do it well, it’s him. One can hope, but there’s no denying one thing:

I, and everyone else I know that grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, and read the original Thrawn trilogy in the nineties, got chills hearing Ahsoka say the words “Heir to the Empire” out loud.

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