Friday, April 25, 2014

The EU is dead, long live the EU!

UPDATE (4/28/14): Subsequent announcements from DelRey and other sources have now stated that the announcement signals the end of all EU material that had been published up to this point. Thus, the only stories in the canon are now the six theatrical films, The Clone Wars, and Sons of Dathomir, a comic coming out soon wrapping up the Maul arc from The Clone Wars. This is somewhat more disappointing than I'd hoped. Still, I hope to have an article up soon about where politics in Star Wars might go from here.

Disney and Lucasfilm have just announced on the Star Wars website that Episode VII will not follow the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the announcement mentions that Star Wars will continue to draw upon the EU for ideas, this essentially amounts to a reboot.

Most of these characters never existed...
I'm sure the Internet will be flooded with commentary about this. But a few points are worth keeping in mind:

  • The announcement only mentions the post-ROTJ EU. It seems safe to assume at this point that the rest of the EU, including KOTOR and Darth Plagueis, is safe. For now...
  • The announcement only mentions that the movies "will not tell the same story." This does not necessarily imply that all stories will be invalidated. Presumably, books like Truce at Bakura, which takes place days after ROTJ and has little impact on the larger canon, could be safe. Same with the X-Wing novels, which do not feature Luke, Han, or Leia. It's not clear if Lucasfilm will take the time to distinguish between post-ROTJ stories that directly contradict the movies versus those that do.
  • That said, Lucasfilm could have used a scalpel to remove contradictory material (i.e., if you want Chewbacca in the films, invalidate everything from New Jedi Order on). That's obviously not the approach taken here. The announcement thus suggests we're likely to see major differences between the EU and Sequel Trilogy. The announcement justifies this as necessary to give the script writers more creative freedom, but I suspect Lucasfilm preferred a reboot because it wants to get new readers into the EU but worries the existing catalogue of 40+ books would have been too intimidating.
While I mourn the loss of the post-ROTJ EU, this reboot does open the possibility of creating a stronger story arc for Leia. As I've said before here, I think the EU did a grave disservice to Leia by cutting her political career short and halfheartedly trying to turn her into a Jedi. I'd love to see the new movies fix this by making Leia a senior stateswoman and leader.

So... it was a decent run, with some highs (Heir to the Empire) and some lows (Fate of the Jedi). I can't say this was my favorite period of the EU, but many of us older fans have invested quite a bit of time and effort into these characters and stories. Now, it is time for us to reflect upon the enjoyment we got out of those stories and, as Yoda would advise, to let go of our attachment.

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