The trailer for Star Wars Rebels season 3 premiered at the ongoing Star Wars Celebration in Europe, with Rebels show-runner Dave Filoni (who also worked on the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars TV show) there to present the preview. Longtime Star Wars fan-favorite actor Warwick Davis (Wicket from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) hosted the panel, as Filoni and the Rebels voice actors Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren) and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine) discussed what lies ahead for characters such as Sabine, Darth Maul, Ezra, and more in season 3.
Said Rebels season 3 trailer is now online and starts off by recapping events from the Rebels season 2 finale – including, Ezra’s (Taylor Gray) close encounter with Darth Maul and the Sith Holocron. The rest of the trailer contains many an exciting reveal about the episodes ahead on the Disney XD animated series, including an action scene that involves Mandalorians (one screened as an extended clip during the Rebels panel at Celebration). However, none of those reveals are quite as exciting as the confirmation that Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) will make his debut on Rebels during season 3.
You can watch the full-length trailer for Star Wars Rebels season 3 above – and then check out the new poster, below.
The Rebels season 3 trailer confirms that Thrawn will serve as the primary antagonist for the Ghost and its crew this season, as far as the Imperial side of things is concerned. However, as the above Rebels poster suggests, Ezra and Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) – the latter now blind from his encounter with Darth Maul in the Rebels season 2 finale – will do battle with Maul in one way or another throughout Rebels season 3.
In the trailer, we see the Sith Lord attempting to make Ezra his “apprentice”, recognizing that Ezra (who looks noticeably older and more mature with his new haircut) is already being pulled towards the Dark Side. During the Star Wars Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration, a clip was shown featuring another encounter between the show’s heroes and Maul… one that ended on a cliff-hanger where Kanan was placed in mortal danger, much to the Celebration crowd’s frustration. Filoni indicated that Kanan will become something akin to a blind samurai warrior during Rebels season 3. The trailer supports that idea, showing that Ezra’s mentor has now grown a beard and must rely on his connection to The Force (as well as his still-functioning senses) more than ever before.
There are other fun teases in the Rebels season 3 trailer, including a brief appearance by Wedge Antilles: the legendary X-Wing pilot and Rogue Squadron member, who here is shown as just a young Imperial pilot ready to defect from the Galactic Empire. Suffice it to say, Rebels season 3 is already making good on the show’s promise to continue expanding the Star Wars universe – while at the same time, bringing in other characters and connecting to key events from other Star Wars movies, TV shows, and novels alike.
Meet Grand Admiral Thrawn
The Rebels season 3 trailer revealed several intriguing tidbits about the episodes that lie ahead. However, the most exciting reveal in the footage was that of season 3’s main antagonist: beloved Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends) villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn. In addition, Thrawn’s creator, Timothy Zahn, is confirmed to be writing a new canon novel featuring the character that will be published in 2017.
Zahn appeared during the Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration by way of a pre-recorded video message, saying it was an “incredible honor” for him to work with Filoni and the rest of the Rebels crew to adapt Thrawn for the animated TV show. You can check out the official cover artwork for Zahn’s upcoming Star Wars: Thrawn book, below:
Thrawn, a blue-skinned alien (who belongs to the race known as the Chiss) and tactical genius who serves the Galactic Empire, was introduced in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire book trilogy (set five years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi). The character took command of the Empire’s forces following the death of Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars Legends continuity, but will presumably serve a different role in the newly-established Star Wars canon. Thrawn’s addition to the Star Wars Rebels ensemble in season 3 has been rumored for some time now, based on the idea that “this time he will be using his evil brand of genius against the heroes of the starship Ghost.”
Here is what Filoni had to offer the crowd at Star Wars Celebration, with regard to Thrawn’s legacy as part of the Star Wars EU (prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012):
“You couldn’t have grown up a Star Wars fan without encountering Thrawn in Heir to the Empire. It was a dark time when there weren’t any more movies, and it blew our minds that there could be more.”
Grand Admiral Thrawn will be voiced on Star Wars Rebels by Lars Mikkelsen (House of Cards), the older brother of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story costar Mads Mikkelsen. You can check out screenshots of Thrawn from the upcoming Rebels season 3 above. That includes an image of Thrawn alongside the Planetary Governor of Lothal, Arihnda Pryce, who’s also making her Rebels debut in season 3 (after only being mentioned by name during the seasons past).
Star Wars Rebels season 3 premieres on Disney XD in fall 2016. Star Wars: Thrawn will be published in 2017.