Classic Star Wars Novel Being Adapted Into Disney+ Movie

By Nathan Kamal | 2 months ago

grand admiral thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn

Rumors are swirling that Disney is planning their first full-length feature film for the Disney+ streaming platform, and it is going to be based on some major source material: Heir to the Empire. According to GeekosityMag, their sources indicate that the various Star Wars series on Disney+ are leading up to a grand finale, which will be Timothy Zahn’s classic novel. Since The Mandalorian became a huge hit (thanks in large part to Werner Herzog’s favorite puppet), Disney seems to have doubled down on releasing Star Wars material on Disney+. Now that The Book of Boba Fett did…alright, kinda…and the hotly anticipated Ahsoka and Obi-Wan Kenobi series are coming up, it does feel like they could be coming up on some grand point. 

Of course, the working theory behind this is that after the relative failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One as theatrical releases (after all, the former only made a measly $393 million), Disney is putting their safe money on the streaming platform. The other part of the theory is that they are taking a cue from Kevin Feige over in the Marvel Studios branch of Disney and building shared storylines that eventually converge to a big event, as the early MCU movies eventually lead up to 2012’s The Avengers. That event will be Heir to the Empire, one of the first and undeniably most influential of the post-original trilogy stories set in what was once known as The Star Wars Expanded Universe. It was a pretty big deal in Star Wars fandom when decades of stories were relegated to “Star Wars: Legends” status and declared non-canon. But as of late, Disney has been showing strong signs that they are willing to mine the Star Wars EU for raw material, like referencing Grand Admiral Thrawn in The Mandalorian and bringing characters from the cartoon series into live-action.  

Heir to the Empire was first published in 1991, in the desolate period between the resolution of the original trilogy and before the continuing mixed feelings of the prequels. As the first part of what came to be known as The Thrawn Trilogy, it followed the original characters as they fought against the remnants of The Galactic Empire trying to reform under Thrawn, and to form a New Republic despite internal battles and politics. Its primary villain was ostensibly a fallen Jedi Master named Joruus C’Baoth (later revealed to be an insane clone of a dead Jedi), who first took Luke Skywalker under his wing, and then allied with Imperial remnants. But one of the most historic accomplishments of the book was to introduce Thrawn himself who would go on to a major villain in Star Wars Rebels, and presumably the upcoming Ahsoka

All of the Disney+ series thus far are set in the time period shortly after Return of the Jedi, which would put it right around the events of Heir to the Empire. It is not beyond the pale that Disney would be planning a mega-event, and use one of their most beloved Star Wars EU properties as raw material (especially now that they are starting to utilize events like Han and Leia’s wedding). Only one thing can certain: if Disney does Heir to the Empire, Jim O’Heir will definitely be Joruus C’Baoth, right?