The Next Star Wars Movie Could Adapt a Beloved Book — With a Twist
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Ahsoka’s trailer made waves not just by introducing several animated characters to live-action, but by referencing a 30-year-old novel. When Ahsoka mentioned her old Rebels foe, Grand Admiral Thrawn, she called him the “Heir to the Empire.” Heir to the Empire, the 1991 novel by Timothy Zahn, was the Star Wars fandom’s introduction to Thrawn, and it looks like Ahsoka is inspired by his story.
But Zahn’s influence could go further than just Ahsoka. A wild new rumor suggests this book could fuel a whole era of Star Wars television, placing Ahsoka front and center — right where Luke used to stand.
Reddit and Twitter leaker MyTimeToShineHello recently tweeted that Dave Filoni’s upcoming movie, which will be the summation of the Mando-verse collection of TV shows on Disney+, will be called Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. That alone is not a huge shock, considering how Filoni has made it very clear that he takes much of his inspiration from the Legends canon, the entire era of media that was rendered moot when Disney bought Lucasfilm. But because Filoni brought Thrawn back for Rebels, anything from Legends is on the table now.
Lost Legends is an Inverse series about the forgotten lore of our favorite stories.
Heir to the Empire is set five years after Return of the Jedi, which is also when Season 1 of The Mandalorian is set. It follows Luke, Han, and Leia as they deal with the fallout of the Empire’s demise and the struggles of building the New Republic now that they’re powerful politicians and generals, not plucky rebels.
Naturally, this would be difficult to adapt into a movie without Luke, Han, and Leia. But knowing Filoni’s penchant for exploring the powers and mechanics of the Force, he could primarily focus on Luke’s storyline, which follows the Jedi as he crashes on a planet with mysterious fellow Jedi Mara Jade.
Mara Jade, who previously served as one of Emperor Palpatine’s top agents and had since begun working for a devious smuggler, plots to murder Luke, but they soon have to work together to defend themselves from Force-sensitive monsters. This adventure brings them face to face with Thrawn, as he tries to kidnap Luke for his own nefarious ends.
It’s a story beloved by old-school Star Wars fans, but it’s incredibly unlikely Luke Skywalker will appear much more in the Mando-verse. His de-aged CGI appearance in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett caused division in the fandom, and Star Wars as a whole feels like it’s finally ready to move on from Luke. However, this storyline could work with another character... like former Jedi Ahsoka Tano. As a Luke stand-in, she could find herself with a Force-sensitive Mara stand-in, and together they could be forced to face off against Thrawn.
This could be a great storyline for Filoni’s upcoming movie, although because it served as Thrawn’s introduction, it’s more likely we’ll see it in Ahsoka. But if Ahsoka covers the events of Heir to the Empire, the movie could cover the other two installments in the Thrawn trilogy: Dark Force Rising and The Last Command.
Heir to the Empire is the Legends ur-text, establishing the lore and tone of the decades of novels to follow it. Even the newer, canonical novels can be traced back to it. It deserves a good adaptation, and this may be the closest we get.
Ahsoka premieres on Disney+ in August 2023.