Star Wars Canon vs. Legends: My Case for a Multiverse

Star Wars Episode VII Fan Poster

Star Wars Episode VII Fan Poster

I love Boba Fett. Until recently, Boba Fett was still alive. However, now, Boba is dead. Until we know otherwise, he never made it out of the Sarlacc pit. Mara Jade isn't Luke's wife, Starkiller is not Vader's apprentice, Plagueis isn't a Muun, and Jacen never turned to the dark side. He didn't even exist.

This line of thinking is at the core of why so many fans are upset. Whether you think that way or not, a lot of people do. Before the announcement, I was on a panel at Salt Lake Comic Con. Questions about The Force Unleashed or the Thrawn trilogy were a huge part of what we discussed. At one point, the question was asked to the audience if they would like to see a complete reboot of the EU, and the answer was surprisingly, almost universally, no. Even I didn't expect that, and I'm a HUGE fan of the EU. So the fact that they completely rebooted Star Wars canon has a lot of people on edge.

Here's another story. A friend of mine came to me yesterday and said that he was reading up on what happens after Return of the Jedi so he could get pumped for Episode VII. He's a casual fan, so he hadn't heard the announcement. I was sad to inform him that he would not be seeing Jaina in Episode VII, especially because he expressed to me how much he loved that character. He, like many, thought that was disappointing. I think we would all love to see Jaina on screen.

I, for one, am torn. On the one hand, I never expected Episode VII to completely follow the EU. They needed creative liberty, and they simply would not have it if they had to follow 200+ books and comics. I'm excited at the new direction Star Wars is going. The fact that they can go anywhere and do anything is incredible! That only increases the anticipation for the film to be released, because we have no expectations.

Heir to the Empire Legends cover

The sequel trilogy will not follow the events of Heir to the Empire or any other Legends material.

That said, I am sad to see the Legends material take a back seat. I'm honestly tired of hearing "oh that stuff is still there," or "you can still enjoy those stories," or "they can't take away your childhood." While this is slightly true, it represents ignorance of what we're going through. Sure, those stories are still there. They're still officially licensed, and they are definitely a step above fan fiction. But they're also not the true story. It becomes a matter of priority. If I had to pick between something canon, and something non-canon, I'm going to choose the canon 90% of the time. That's why I still haven't read the old Marvel comics. And I know there are many people who think the same way. If new Legends material is released, I might read it if I have time, but it's a big maybe. In general, I plan on sticking to the canon from now on.

Solution: A Multiverse.

So how can we elevate the status of Legends so that people like me can read about Jaina or Kyle Katarn and feel like doing so is worth it. The only way I can elevate the status of the Legends material in my head is to create a multiverse. As of right now, this is what I do. In my mind, I imagine that the Legends material actually does "happen" in an alternate universe from the film version. This isn't official, and I'm not imposing this theory on anyone. But if it ever does become official, I will be very happy.

I think a multiverse would work wonders in easing the minds of the many fans who are upset with the reboot. I was initially hesitant about the idea of a multiverse. After all, Star Wars didn't seem to fit into that genre. That was more of a thing for Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. But now, I think this is the only way to make it work.

Some might say, "It's a fictional universe anyway. Why does it matter what is/isn't canon?" Well folks, I'm sorry, but continuity is and always has been a huge deal in any geek franchise. It's just something you will always encounter, whether you're into it or not.

Some have also compared the EU reboot to what DC Comics and Marvel have done, pointing out that there is no continuity in the different versions of each superhero. People still read the comics and watch the movies, even if they don't exist in the same universe, right? Wrong! Wrong for two reasons:

  1. In 1985, DC Comics realized it was time to reboot their characters and have a fresh start. There was simply too much baggage in all the previous comics to continue the same story. Not unlike the EU right? So they launched a HUGE crossover event called Crisis on Infinite Earths. The basic idea behind this comic was to tie all of their existing lines together and create a multiverse. It was clear that all former iterations of their characters, and all future ones, would all be part of the same multiverse. So in a sense, every DC comic book is canon. The only question is which universe does it fit into? Marvel has done something similar, though they haven't been as clear about how it works as DC has.
  2. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has recently proven in ticket sales that people love a shared universe. It's great if you tell a good story, but it's even better if that good story connects with another good story. Generally speaking, if one part of that shared universe is financially successful, it will boost the sales of all other media directly associated with it. Marvel Studios has done a great job, and now it's becoming all the rage. Marvel-Fox, Marvel-Sony, and DC Comics are all trying to do the same thing. Most franchises these days involve some kind of transmedia marketing, because it sells! Bottom line, the more you can connect the canon, the more successful it will be.
Crisis-on-Infinite-Earths dc comics

DC Comics rebooted their properties with a massive crossover multiverse event.

My point is, it has proven successful to tie all the media together. If you simply classify Legends as not canon, fewer people will pick it up. There are some exceptions, but for most of your mainstream media, it needs to tie into the overall canon or it won't be as successful as it could be.

What I Want to See

On the extremely slim chance that Lucasfilm would create a multiverse, this is how I would want them to do it.

The Darth Bane books are confirmed as Legends.

The Darth Bane books are confirmed as Legends.

Step 1: Fully clarify what is Legends, and what is canon. This is partially complete, but there are still some things that aren't clear. For the rest of this to happen, it has to be clear.

Step 2: Make the Old Republic era canon. The Old Republic era is almost a small franchise within a franchise. It has a huge following, including some who aren't fans of the films. The story is almost entirely self contained and wouldn't affect the canon material of the films in any way. Plus, of all the Star Wars eras, this is the one I would most like to see new stories in.

Step 3: Tell a story that creates two alternate universes. The best place to put this would be before the Darth Bane books (already confirmed as Legends). This would then explain the differences between the Legends and canon continuities. I don't really care what the story is, but it should probably be big, like Shadows of the Empire/The Force Unleashed level of big.

JainaS

A team-up with Daisy Ridley's character and Jaina Solo? Shut up and take my money.

Step 4: CROSSOVER EVENT! Honestly, who wouldn't love to see Jaina team up with Daisy Ridley's character, whoever she is? Or see film-Luke team up with Legends-Luke. Personally, this would excite me almost more than the films...almost. It would provide a clear continuity link between each alternate universe, and it would be just plain awesome!

Step 5: Continue the Legends line. Once you have established the Legends material as canon (even though it's still separate from film canon), it will be much easier to continue writing more stories in that universe. I highly doubt we'll get any more stories otherwise. The focus will mostly be on the film canon, and developing that universe. But if there's a multiverse, we might have a chance of getting more Legends. We might even get to see the Sword of the Jedi trilogy we all want to read.

And look guys, I'm not saying this will happen. I'm not saying that my opinion should be universally accepted by the fandom. I have a strict way of looking at canon that not everyone shares. For me, if it isn't canon, I usually won't read it, but that's just me. Not everyone is like that. Evidence does suggest that a shared canon does improve the sales of everything involved, but that doesn't mean that the Legends material won't make money. I could be completely wrong on that.

But I do like to speculate. And that's what Far, Far Away Radio is all about. So let me know what you think of my case for a multiverse. Would you keep Legends as it is, with no crossover tie-ins? Would you like to see a multiverse? Do you have any other awesome ideas? Let me know in the comments below.