The Future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Originally posted on Jason's website, Lord of the Lightsaber, on January 8, 2014.

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of the Star Wars expanded universe. Recent tweets from continuity supervisor Leland Chee have rekindled the discussion of whether the future film will re-write current continuity or not.

It is clear that all published material, video games, and television will be part of the same level of canon as the films. What is still not clear is all the publishing and games released before now. We know that there is a story group devoted to overseeing continuity over all platforms.

Here is my theory on what I think the options are.

In my opinion, there are three options for how the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) will be treated.

  1. Episode VII will completely re-write the EU. There will be new characters, and others like Mara Jade and the Solo twins will not exist.
  2. Episode VII (and all forthcoming media) will exist alongside the existing EU. The story will be new, but the characters and their history will remain the same.
  3. There will be a blend of both. Perhaps the characters will remain, but much of their history will be changed. We may only get the occasional nod to the existing EU.

My opinion leans toward number three. The EU already has too much material in it to completely liberate the writers of Episode VII. Besides, writer Lawrence Kasden has mentioned that he would like to start fresh. However, I don’t think Lucasfilm/Disney will decide to throw away the expanded universe as it currently stands. Disney paid good money for all 17,000+ characters. They’re going to use them.

I’m sure a fresh start would be beneficial for the EU. We already know that Marvel is taking over publishing for Star Wars comics, so we can expect a fresh start there. But starting fresh and completely discarding past continuity are two separate things.

So here’s what I think they should do.

1) Have a Cross-platform Event to Explain Continuity

Assuming options 1 or 3 are the fate of the Star Wars EU, I hope/expect them to explain why there are differences in the canon. This will be more important if the film completely re-writes what we’ve grown up on.

Lucasfilm has, in the past, done a multi-platform event for important stories. They did this with Shadows of the Empire and The Force Unleashed. Both of these stories had video games, novels, comics, and even action figures. In my opinion, they will need to do this again.

The subject of the cross-platform event would be a crossover between old canon and new canon. It would explain all of the differences between the EU and the continuity of the new films. I’m not a huge fan of a multiverse, but I think it would be the only option, short of just throwing the old EU away.

2) Animated Adaptations

Assuming options 2 or 3 are chosen, it would be very nice to see which of the current EU stories are taken seriously. The Thrawn trilogy, for example, is highly prized by fans as the quintessential Star Wars sequel to date. However, it has only existed in book and comic form.

DC Comics and Marvel have had great success in adapting their more well-known comic stories into direct-to-DVD animated films. Some of these have been incredibly good. I think Lucasfilm would be smart to consider this option for some of their more popular stories. The Thrawn trilogy would be my first choice, but I would also like to see Dark Empire, the Jedi Academy Trilogy, The Courtship of Princess Leia, and anything from the Old Republic era.

We know that Gary Rydstrom and Brenda Chapmanformerly of Pixar, have worked on an unknown animated project for Lucasfilm. This may just be involvement with the upcoming animated series Rebels, but it may be something else.

So to summarize, I think most of current Star Wars canon will be re-written, but that we might see a cross-platform event explaining why there are discrepancies. It might end up being a multiverse. I certainly don’t think Disney will discard all of those characters in favor of a completely new canon. I also think Lucasfilm/Disney would be wise to adapt some of the more beloved EU stories in animated form.

What are your thoughts?