Timothy Zahn talks briefly on upcoming Thrawn novel

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We learned yesterday that Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novel will be a prequel to the character’s Rebels appearance, but Zahn gives a more specific timeline in a quick interview on StarWars.com.

The novel begins “with his first encounter with the Empire,” and ends just before his Rebels debut, Zahn says. (A new take on Outbound Flight, maybe?)

Zahn also reveals just how much he’s seen of the Rebels appearance (about as much as we did) and whether we can expect anything from his Legends books.

It’s a Legends-heavy crowd for Hasbro’s 2016 fan choice figure poll

Black series Mara Jade (Yakface.com)The Star Wars Fan Figure vote finalists are in, and it’s a Legends-heavy field this year: Jaina Solo, The Force Unleashed’s Starkiller, Darth Talon from the Legacy comics and even our own namesake Mara Jade. Rounding out the choices are The Clone Wars’ Captain Rex and bounty hunter Dengar.

(Were certain Legends zealots doing some targeted ballot-stuffing to ensure this outcome? Oh, definitely. Yet in the grand scheme of things, they clearly followed the rules, and there’s no malice to be done here. An action figure hurts no one, so let them have their fun.)

Mara won this a couple years back, and even the resulting figure was something of a disappointment, I don’t really feel tempted to vote for her again. (That Fan’s Choice was her third Hasbro figure, and every single one had to be wearing that silly catsuit, apparently.) Having three women in the finals might be unprecedented, but I don’t find any of the choices all that exciting. Vote as you will: The winner will be announced at Hasbro’s SDCC panel on Friday.

What we learned at Star Wars Celebration Europe: Rogue One, Thrawn, and our new (young) Han

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Another Celebration is over, and while this one felt a bit restrained, here are the big hits. Follow the links for all the details!

ro-posterRogue One
We didn’t get a Rogue One trailer – what was shown only to the live audience was mostly footage we’ve already seen with only a handful of new additions – but there was a nifty sizzle reel. And we learned a couple things about the worlds and characters of the film – plus a poster! And Gwendoline Christie is a fantastic panel host. Later, Kathleen Kennedy said they’re leaning towards not giving the film an opening crawl. Also, check out these amazing cast photos from behind the scenes at the con.

Rebels expands the GFFA
But the con’s big surprise – at least for our purposes – is Thrawn coming to Rebels. The rumor has been floating around since January 2016, but what really took it over the top was the additional news that Timothy Zahn will be writing a new novel about the character. In other book news, we learned that Alexander Freed is doing the Rogue One novelization, while James Luceno is writing the film’s tie-in, Catalyst. We also got a cover for the Ahsoka novel, as well as some hints as to what the character got up to between The Clone Wars and Rebels.

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Han Solo and the Official Casting Announcement
Alden Ehrenreich was finally confirmed as the young Han Solo, and Batman on the Millennium Falcon is totally canon. (Or not.)

Episode VIII
With the focus on Rogue One, we didn’t get much on VIII. But Mark Hamill praised Rian Johnson’s dialogue, and Johnson showed a few new behind-the-scenes pics at the Future Filmmakers panel. We didn’t get a title because it doesn’t have one yet. But remember, there’s still one more Celebration between now and the film’s release…

And finally, here’s a sweet video that was played at the Closing Ceremonies:


We’ll have a new tweet roundup in a day or so, as well as continuing wrap-up coverage, but those are the highlights!

SWCE: Alden Ehrenreich confirmed as young Han Solo

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No Episode VIII title* out of the Future Filmmakers panel at Celebration Europe, but they did confirm Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo and bring him out on stage. He was the first person to audition (out of 3000 people!) and won the role over 6 months. Directs Christopher Miller and Phil Lord have only just moved to London for pre-production, and they expect to start shooting in early 2017.

* Because there is no title yet.

Earlier, Kathleen Kennedy said Episode VIII director Rian Johnson “moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.” We learned that Johnson spent about six weeks with Lucasfilm before even starting in on the script.

The panel winded down with surprise appearances from John Boyega, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. (Plus Gary and Millie.) It looked fun, but there was nothing really earth-shattering revealed. Check out the StarWars.com liveblog for details.

Below the cut, videos from the panel, and the interviews afterward!

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SWCE: Alexander Freed writing Rogue One novelization

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Matthew Ruddle, marketing manager for Penguin Random House UK, dropped a few news bits on the livestream Sunday morning. Most notable is that Alexander Freed (Battlefront: Twilight Company) is writing the Rogue One novelization.

He also revealed that Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novel will be a prequel to his appearance on Rebels. “You’re going to get to see how Thrawn got to his position of power, how he became so respected in the Empire, and just what makes him such a brilliant villain and tactician,” Ruddle said.

Alas, he couldn’t share even that much detail on James Luceno’s Catalyst, which was also announced yesterday. “If you’re going to be watching Rogue One, you need to read Catalyst,” Ruddle said. “It ties in, it connects dots.”

SWCE: Star Wars Rebels S3 to introduce Grand Admiral Thrawn; Timothy Zahn writing canon novel!


thrawn-novel700Grand Admiral Thrawn was revealed as a villain in Star Wars Rebels S3, and that’s not even the whole of it. Timothy Zahn – who gave his blessing to the Rebels version via video – is writing a canon Thrawn novel that’ll be out in April 2017.

The Rebels Thrawn is being voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, Mads Mikkelsen’s brother.

Thrawn, who originated in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in 1991, is the first Legends character to make the jump to the new canon.

When asked if Mara Jade could be next, Filoni was fairly straightforward: “No, not likely.” (I am, for the record, more than okay with that.) Filoni also said that the ysalamiri aren’t making the leap to canon, although there are some visual nods to them in the production design of Thrawn’s introduction.

On his Facebook, Zahn said he’s just turned in the first draft of the novel.

The trailer also featured Wedge Antilles and a Force sensitive character named Bendu, who’s being voiced by Fourth Doctor Tom Baker. For more on everything else about Rebels S3, head to StarWars.com.

Two episodes were show (but not livestreamed) and you can read one review, with some spoilers, over at io9.

Filoni and Lucasfilm’s Kiri Hart talk about how the show makes Thrawn work on Sunday, comparing him to Vader as a villain: “We want to treat him like a big time villain, as much as Darth Vader,” Filoni said. “But on the strategic, military side of things.”

Watch the panel video under the cut. Continue reading

SWCE: James Luceno is writing Rogue One novel Catalyst

catalyst700Among the reveals at today’s publishing panel: Expanded Universe vet James Luceno is writing Catalyst, the Rogue One companion novel. We also got the cover, which is pretty neat, but no more details than that. (Still a mystery: The adaptation.)

Most of the things at the panel were kids books, but we also learned about a few new Star Wars Insider short stories. There’ll be two new Blade Squadron stories, including one in September that ties into Aftermath: Life Debt. (The Insider also had their own panel.)

There’s a new Galactic Atlas that’s written from an in-universe perspective, featuring “600-700 individual illustrations.” A new Complete Locations will cover Starkiller Base, Maz’s castle and Rey’s AT-AT home. And Jason Fry’s Weapon of a Jedi is being adapted for younger readers as Luke and Lost Jedi Temple.

SWCE: Rogue One poster, behind-the-scenes clip debuts!


The first surprise at the Rogue One panel was Gwendoline Christie hosting. The second was the poster, and the third is the behind the scenes clip we see above.

ro-posterJohn Knoll revealed that he first came up with the idea of a the story when he first heard rumblings of the live-action series, during the filming of Revenge of the Sith. He put it away when he learned more about George’s concept for the series, and pulled it out again when the spinoffs were announced. Check out the original concept art of the team.

Director Gareth Edwards talking about meeting Mark Hamill (and later, George Lucas!) on set, barely keeping it together.

Edwards also confirmed that the beach planet is named Scarif, and later cast revealed another planet, Jedha. Apparently people make Force-based pilgrimages there – Edwards compared it to Mecca. This appears to be the market planet, and where we meet Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen,) Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed.) Edwards had more to say on Jedha in a post-panel interview – it’s certainly an intriguing addition to the galaxy.

We learned a bit more about several characters, including our first look at Mads Mikkelsen’ Galen Erso. He invented something “so fantastic it might change the universe.”

Jones also got her first look at the Jyn Erso action figure direct from Christie. Here’s a closer look at her from the floor:

Ahmed said his pilot character Bodhi works for but is questioning the Empire:

He also got quite a few zings in. On that note, Alan Tudyk also shared what Anthony Danials said when he told him his droid was CGI: “You shit.”

Ben Mendelson called Orson Krennic “smarter” than his Imperial predecessors, and “a little sexier than some of them, not quite as sexy as some of the others,” with a wink to Christie.

Christie concluded the panel with a group selfie:

And now, days later, you can watch it all for yourself!