Confirmed: The Expanded Universe’s role in the future of Star Wars

heir-to-the-empire-legendsYeah, we’ve got us an alternative universe, StarWars.com has announced: “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.” However, the EU as we know it is not going away – some of it is being re-released under the ‘Legends’ banner. And Star Wars going forward will be using many of it’s elements.

On that note, we have several adult Rebels, novels on the horizon, the first of which, A New Dawn, will be by John Jackson Miller. (On his own blog, Miller wrote about his trip to Lucasfilm to film the video.)

As an EU fan? This is more or less what I expected, and I welcome that there’s now a greater freedom for the films to explore the post-ROTJ era… And leave a lot of the EU’s less savory aspects behind.

23 thoughts on “Confirmed: The Expanded Universe’s role in the future of Star Wars

  1. Emily

    And now we must continue to wonder what their definition of “elements” is. Does it include actual characters, or character types and all the rest?

    Not unexpected as you said, and at least it’s some information.

    I don’t think this will stop the hand-wringing until more Episode VII information comes out. (And really, come ON, Disney – you’re making this worse with your silence. *ahem*)

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  2. Derek (@dja17)

    Honestly not sure how I feel. This was expected since they announced the movies, but it still sucks to finally have it confirmed.

    I know not everyone agrees, but I loved the EU’s (mostly) consistent timeline.The main reason I invested so much time (and money) in the SWEU instead of the Star Trek EU was because of this. Now I look at my bookshelf filled with books & comics and I know that I’ll never read another story in that continuity ever again.

    I definitely do wonder what elements will be used in the NewU (yes, I am trying to make that a thing!). Will Mara still exist? If so, did she marry Luke? What about giving birth to Ben? Or biling killed by Jacen?

    Two years ago DC did a similar reboot with The New 52, but it’s pretty messy. Hopefully Disney & LFL do a better job.

    (Well that turned into a long rant/stream of conscious.)

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  3. Aaron

    The most interesting line: “Demand for past tales of the Expanded Universe will keep them in print.” Or to put it differently: Stuff that nobody buys will disappear. Fare thee well, Crystal Star, we knew thee all too well. ;-)

    The rest is basically what we thought, but this confirmation could mean, of course, that the rumors regarding a “new” version of Mara, Jaina, Jacen, etc. could in fact have been true. I mean, if Rebels uses EU content, why should the sequels not do the same? And no, I don’t think we’ll get a blue-skinned super admiral, but if Luke turns out to be married why not to a former spy?

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  4. Joy

    I would guess that the major, archetypal similarities would remain (e.g., the Solo twins, as described during the Yuuzhan Vong), which is great. I think Luke should be good and miserable by this point, to keep the archetypes going, so probably no Mara Jade or young Ben Skywalker, which is sad for him and us. But looking forward to the other twins, diplomat Leia and master Luke, bickering, then squabbling, then at each others’ throats, etc. The final, “Well, it’s time to retire” ending of the EU left me cold, so I’m not shedding too many tears shed for that. This more archetypal ending should go out with a bang.

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  5. iiari

    Pretty much as we’ve all being starting to expect, i.e. a cutting of the cord after ROTJ with heavy inspiration taken from the pre-ROTJ EU and maybe even a smattering of some of the now “Legends” EU. Again, kind of like they did with TCW before. I’m very happy we won’t be dealing with parallel ongoing multiverses, though. I never liked that idea.

    I’m deeply hoping that the extremely interesting several thousand years of galactic history pre-TFM will be mostly left intact and I’m crossing my fingers hard that maybe they throw us some new EU material in that time-frame in the future…

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    1. susan

      I tend to agree, the part of the EU I was the least disillusioned with and the most likely to read in the past few years was Old Republic stuff. Kinda hope some of that medieval backstory goodness sticks around.

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      1. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

        Count me in as another person who hopes the ‘Old Republic’ era stuff is left untouched by this change. I’ll gladly do without everything else, but the Old Republic stuff (both KOTOR and TOR) are the only things in the SWEU that I’ve remotely liked in the last 10-11 years.

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  6. Synn

    My issue with this is that the Star Wars franchise has been kept alive over the years mainly by the EU. Comics, books, figures etc all part of the EU, and it’s effectively being dismissed or, at best, used as potential reference material.

    Surely George Lucas had sign off on the EU over the years and would treat it as “canon” (I know the films are his only canon), so why dismiss fans this way? Why not enhance the existing EU, rather than re-write it.

    I had the same issue when the Clone Wars became “canon”. GL must have signed off on the RC novels etc, and RC games to allow them to be released, then just change his mind and completely re-write that era on a whim.

    Feels like the fans aren’t cared about.

    Well, after that rant – let’s see what they do with it. As long as the stories are good, then I’m sure everything will be forgiven

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    1. InSaneWeTrust

      Eh, for all the headaches The Clone Wars caused Wookieepedia, how many stories did it really undo? There was nothing in the show that made me think Shatterpoint never happened or there wasn’t a Captain Fordo or Kal Skirata. In my head canon(or “from a certain point of view”), Coruscant Nights just happened with a different Jedi dying at the beginning.

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  7. CassieS

    Happy feels:
    1) I’ve only skimmed the video, but noticed Tim Zahn got a talking head. Yay. Although it’s probably because of his place in the EU’s past rather than any place he might have in its future, it still made me happy.
    2) Now my head canon of The Thrawn Trilogy, The X-Wing books, I Jedi, Hand of Thrawn and Survivor’s Quest is as “official” as someone else’s canon that goes all the way to Crucible. Seriously makes me happy.
    3) Maybe, just maybe, the current team at Lucasfilm made the “Legends” decision because they, too, can recognize that the dreck is strong with the current EU and the books left behind the feel of the films quite some time ago. I don’t see this so much as of a diss of fans (and let’s face it, number of involved EU fans who leave messages on the internet < number of potential buyers for a brand new, "Star Wars-y" timeline by an exponential power) as a chance to give fans what they REALLY want, not what they say they want. Jen Heddle commissioned some of my favorite Marvel novels during her time at Simon & Schuster – I'm thrilled to see what might happen.

    Side eyes:
    1) Can Lucasfilm, for once, get away from the RPG materials?!?! I understand they're a rich resource. So is fresh imagination.
    2) Back to the tired, dried up well with Luceno. Ugh. Can we please get writers who weren't involved with the NJO, or anything past it timeline-wise? I'd make an exception for Stackpole. Nope, don't even want Stover. I'd rather read original novels from him.

    Overall, I'm hoping that the best of the EU best will get cherry picked and absorbed into the new continuity, the worst (superweapons of the week, Galaxy Quest villains, bug sex, creatively bankrupt rip-offs of the Prequel Trilogy, Cthulhu snacking on old Skywalker girlfriends) gets jettisoned out a faulty escape pod with no hope of rescue.

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    1. susan

      The excessive fascination with the RPG stuff never made sense to me either. I get the impression it had a lot to do with signaling that you’re a l33t, old-skool fanboy who knew about it and had insider knowledge. That said, people I respect are into it, and some of them are on the Story Group, so not too surprising RPG stuff is still there. But I mean seriously, there are a lot more fans invested in, say, Mara Jade than in 1980s RPG elements.

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  8. Kelly

    I think we’ll just have to take a multiverse approach the way comic universes do. There’s just no way to cover the same era and have EVERYTHING be consistent and canon. As big a continuity freak as I am, I’m okay with thinking of the books as one take and the movies as another, just like Marvel comics tell one story and the Marvel movies/TV series tell another. The only thing that will really pain me to see contradicted in the movies is Mara’s existence and place in the story, but I’ve pretty much resigned myself to that being likely.

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  9. Mike Overby

    For me, material from the time closest to the films is kinda boring because it’s stuff we’ve seen so often. They were finding excuses to cram stuff in there whenever they could, and it was oversaturated. So this isn’t really exciting to me because I read “maximum creative freedom” as “maximum use of the film timeline.” Which, admittedly, does include the timeline of the new films, too, but the initial offerings are making me wary of a repeat of the old universe’s Rebel Era, where every week was three new adventures on three planets in three sources.

    I suppose there’s room for optimism if this reboot does “leave a lot of the EU’s less savory aspects behind,” and doesn’t become a whole universe with a tone based in the more recent EU’s less savory aspects. I do not want a universe where, from its beginnings, ideas like Creepy Leia, quality-wise, are publishable.

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  10. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

    I, for one, welcome this change. I told my sister about this, and she put it fairly well IMHO: There comes a time when you have to change the sandbox, and that’s when it starts to look more like a kitty litter box.

    The SWEU, in my blunt opinion, has looked like an unkempt litter box for some time. The upside is that there’s the 30 year gap between Episode 6 and Episode 7, but what could happen then is largely dependent on where we start with Ep. 7. And on the upside, at least they’ll still make available some of the classic EU stories for those who may want them.

    But just because the EU characters many know and love (or hate) aren’t going to be officially recognized anymore, doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. That’s what fan fiction, fan art, and cosplay is for.

    (And to echo my remarks above, so long as the KOTOR/TOR era is left largely untouched by this change, I’ll be satisfied with whatever comes down the pike)

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    1. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

      … Argh, I blanked out somewhere.

      What I meant to say was, The upside is that there’s the 30 year gap between Episode 6 and Episode 7, so theoretically some characters/concepts/events could feasibly be retconned/adjusted to fit into a “sliding timeline” for the more fluid aspects/ideas, but what could happen then is largely dependent on where we start with Ep. 7.

      (Sorry about that)

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    1. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

      If I read the news correctly (which I did give a closer look after my initial comment above), anything set _after_ ‘Return of the Jedi’ EU-wise will be ignored and replaced by new material starting with ‘Rebels’ and ‘Episode 7′.

      So far as I know, I haven’t seen any comments from BioWare both on Twitter and the official TOR forums, so take this as a tentative ‘No, the TOR era will probably be left alone (for now)’.

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  11. InSaneWeTrust

    For people upset by this, I’m reminded of an old comic(I think Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story), which had the disclaimer “This is an ‘imaginary story.’ But aren’t they all?”

    Just because somebody claims an official story they published didn’t really happen. that doesn’t make it invalid, any more than some CGI edits made the movies you grew up with non-canon. It’s all fiction, so Han shooting first is just as “real” as Greedo missing at point-blank range.

    Speaking for myself, I’m not that upset since most of my favorite EU stories are the ones that take place before ROTJ, and usually the ones that feature prequel characters or entirely new creations rather than the iconic OT cast. Obviously there’s the ones everybody loves like the Zahn trilogy and I enjoyed the hell out of Shadows of Mindor, but all in all I won’t be too bothered if Palpatine never had a three-eyed son or IG-88 never became the Death Star.

    So I’m cautiously optimistic that most of my favorite stories and characters will be left alone for now. I doubt anything in the Sequels or Rebels or “young Han Solo/Boba Fett” movies is going to erase the Bioware games or Kyle Katarn or “Darth Plagueis” from existence.

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  12. Graaf

    @ InSaneWeTrust

    I’m hearing that attitude a lot. While I, too am optimistic for this change, I think that’s missing the point of what makes people so upset.

    When I was a teenager, Jacen and Jaina felt like my siblings. I grew up with them. Even when Jaina was pushed aside and written terribly, at least there was hope for better stories featuring her in the future.
    If it’s the case that the Jaina Solo we know will be replaced by a new character and a new canon (however superficially similar), it’s not that her past stories become “invalid”, it’s that there won’t be any future for the character we’ve known for so long. She’s dead, and in a far more final sense than if her death had been written.

    I can’t help but feel a bit sad about that.

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  13. Sean

    Now we get to have two kinds of disgruntled SW fans: OT and EU varieties : ) Seriously, I’m glad that Lucasfilm and Disney are at least acknowledging these changes. They could have been totally lame and swept the EU under the rug. There’s actually a lot to be said for jumping a couple generations into the future and totally sidestepping any of these problems, but an absence of Hamill Fisher and Ford does not sell movie tickets. I guess we can always hope for a time portal in scene 1 : P

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  14. Graaf

    My ideal would be a re-write from just before NJO. Earlier stuff can be re-adapted or ignored as needed. Perhaps an X-Wing TV show, and no one mentions Crystal Star again. Give us Jaina Solo in her twenties. Give us the New Republic, not the GFF-whatever.
    My fear is that they’ll throw away Jaina, Wedge and Mara, not to mention people “only geeks care about” like Garik Loran. Myri Antilles or countless others, in favor a a standard grizzled bad-boy protagonist.
    This is a tremendous opportunity to do justice to decades of Star Wars fan love. I hope it’s not wasted.

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