The Daala part is pure speculation, but I can see her as a firm maybe. It would be nice to see the character redefined to be less of a grab-bag of lame sleeping-her-way-to-the-top stereotypes – there’s really only room for improvement, and it’s not like they can make her president in this time period. Despite how many books they kept bringing her back for in the old EU, she’s not really what I would consider to be a significant character, which gives them that much more leeway. (Whether Luceno is the one to make those improvements… Well, it could be worse, I guess.)
But Mara Jade, as Luke Skywalker’s wife and a character with a still-significant fanbase all her own, is perhaps the most-high profile EU character who could (possibly) connect to the sequel trilogy, and an appearance in the new canon at this early point will rocket expectations sky high. (Do we really need more of that? Aren’t expectations for Episode VII high enough already?) My first instinct – that they’d put Mara in to kill her off earlier in the timeline – would just be cruel to fans that are still (occasionally) somewhat bitter over Legacy of the Force. Better no Mara than to kill her off all over again.
Word on the streets (well, the message boards) is that Disney has told the 501st and Rebel Legions that certain Expanded Universe characters are “not being allowed to march” in the Star Wars Weekend Motorcade. The only character we know for sure at this time is Mara Jade, but it’s easy to guess at several others from there. Nanci Tosche Station has thoughts.
One big question: Would this apply to characters from other eras who haven’t crossed over into tv or movies, like the Old Republic, or does it only affect post-Return of the Jedi characters who may in the path of the sequels?
Although this means certain costumers (including quite a few women) will no longer be able to march in the official parade, certain means of quiet protest have been suggested: Attendees can still dress in costumes or don EU character shirts.
UPDATE: TFN’s Eric Geller reached out the Lucasfilm on this, and they told him “that neither Disney nor LFL ordered a prohibition on EU characters in the SW Weekends parade.” Tosche Station maintains they’ve heard otherwise from 501st members, although no one is yet sure how high at Disney the orders may come from.
Episode 7 News is back with some clarification on their previous Mara Jade rumor. Their source now has a name – JediDigger – and they say his info comes from “discussions between people inside Lucasfilm and it’s licenses.”
The gist of his clarification is that they’re using the existing Expanded Universe characters as a template. The actual characters we get will be based on folks like Mara/Shira Brie, Jaina, Ben and such, but with different names – like the oh-so-convenient Korriban/Moriband confusion.
“This can not be made clearer, the post ROTJ EU launched in 91 is dead,” he says. “No story from Outbound Flight forward counts.” This all comes “the request of Disney, Kathleen Kennedy and Howard Roffman.”
But “the love of Luke Skywalker’s life” is a “character George Lucas has had since the end of Return of the Jedi,” which seems like it could conflict with the idea of basing her on Mara… Or does it? It’s not like we haven’t seen a similar character from Lucas before.
They’re also claiming that Michael Arndt has “moved on to Episode 8″ and that Abrams has met with Timothy Zahn. UPDATE: Zahn himself says this part isn’t true, which casts even more doubt on the rest.
So that’s a big rumor dump – but again, not a particularly trustworthy one: Taking the EU characters as templates is significantly less dramatic a change than I would expect. I continue to be skeptical.