Last week, Lucasfilm released a statement regarding the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The basic gist of the statement is that all EU materials are officially non-canonical; only the six Star Wars films and the Clone Wars animated show are considered irrevocable canon moving forward. New entries into the series, such as the upcoming Rebels series and Episode VII, will therefore have the freedom to incorporate EU elements, but are not beholden to them.
I fell in love with Star Wars at an early age, and that only grew when the Special Editions were released in theaters. I grew up reading novels, comics, and various “Essential Guides,” in the Expanded Universe; I played an untold number of video games, the Star Wars card game, and even got passingly familiar with the pen-and-paper RPG. I was 12 when Episode I came out, and saw it twice on release day; I actually even thought it was pretty good, at the time.
I guess the expectation, then, would be for me to rail against “The Man” for deciding to invalidate all of those stories, characters, adventures, and cool new spaceships. The fact of the matter is, though, that all this statement did was reinforce was has always been policy regarding the EU. Lucasfilm tried to keep all EU stories consistent with one another, and nothing released under the imprint was ever allowed to openly contradict the films. However, the films were the only official canon, and the prequels overrode numerous things that had been established in EU stories during the ‘90s.
The simple fact of the matter is that trying to create new, post-Jedi stories for the upcoming films that don’t step on the toes of the EU would be logistically impossible. More than that, the writers would be confining themselves for the sake of a handful of good stories, and a whole lot of nonsense. I love the Timothy Zahn books, as does every Star Wars EU fan; if the new films were being made ten years ago, I would even hope the new trilogy might be based on those works.
Most of the EU, though, is moderately well-written, at best, and some of those novels are just bad; the same holds true for the video games as well. I will admit that most of the comics and graphic novels released by Dark Horse over the years are pretty fantastic, with only a few really poor entries. Regardless, these new films need to be able to entertain all audiences, and have the freedom to explore new storylines. Trying to keep the EU canonical would almost guarantee alienation of regular moviegoers, and require characters like Emperor Palpatine’s three-eyed son to be taken into consideration.
I guess I can’t get worked up because this announcement doesn’t go back and erase all the enjoyment the Expanded Universe has brought fans over the years: I still have a crush on Mara Jade; I still know the Outrider is the only ship cooler than the Falcon; I still got to be an elite test-pilot for the TIE defender; I still won’t ever believe Boba Fett died in the Pit of Carkoon. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” is more than just the opening crawl from those films for me; it’s an invitation to go to that galaxy, to close my eyes and see a dozen different versions of the trench run rushing up to meet me.
I don’t know if these new films are going to be good, but I’m hopeful; I don’t feel as altruistic toward Rebels, based on my dislike of The Clone Wars, but I wouldn’t mind being surprised. I respect this statement, especially given that George didn’t feel the EU was worth addressing in a similar manner prior to the prequels. Plus, since the new films have “full access to the rich content,” there’s still hope to see a big-screen version of Admiral Thrawn.