I’ve seen a few people these last few days lamenting the death of the Star Wars EU. If you missed out then to quickly elaborate: pretty much all the old Star Wars tie-in media isn’t canon (as in, didn’t happen) to the new movies. That means a ton of books, comics and video games like Knight of the Old Republic and Shadows of the Empire, until proven otherwise, took place in a separate continuity.
For those who are saddened by this, I hear you, I really do. I loved the EU to bits, even the parts that most people find less than awesome, Yuuzhan Vong I’m looking right at you in your big freaky alien faces. I was incredibly invested in those storylines and there are a lot of great characters that I grew to love who never got a single second of screen time in the movies. That said, there are three main reasons why I’m okay with this whole situation. Please do stay a moment and allow me to explain.
Reason #1: They’ll (Probably) Still Pull From The EU Anyway
The common misconception some people have is that Disney have launched a nuke at the EU and incinerated it into oblivion. From Mara to Cade, they’ve all been wiped from existence. That’s not necessarily how things have gone down though. In reality they’ve put everything aside while they draw up the new official continuity. This new picture is still being developed, where there’s appropriate space for it they’re surely going to be pulling from the EU to fill in some gaps.
Does that mean the Vong could still be part of the new Star Wars canon? That’s exceedingly unlikely, I think we’ll see Jedi Jar-Jar on screen before the Vong. But it does mean Knights of the old Republic and Darth Bane, to use two popular examples, could still weasel their way into the new lore.
Where am I pulling this from? I have no insider information at all, but just going from the facts it’s clear that this is perfectly plausible. For those unaware, there’s a new band of mystical Jedi librarians who have banded together to form the Lucasfilm Story Group. This group basically make sure that everything Star Wars going forward (books, comics and video games) are all set in the same canon universe as the movies, new and old.
The problem with the old EU is it was always canon to itself until proven not canon. It remained eternally fluid, able to be made completely irrelevant if anything in The Clone Wars or the prequel movies decided they needed to contradict it for the sake of telling a good story. Totally understandable.
Right now the only canon properties beyond the movies are The Clone Wars and the upcoming Rebels TV show. But when it comes to crafting new canon in the Star Wars universe it’s not a stretch to assume they’ll do the same thing they did with The Clone Wars. Which is to say: pull ideas from what works, replace what gets in the way.
Meaning, EU storylines that are set post-Return of the Jedi are going to be overwritten by the new Episode VII, that is inevitable. It would be a logistical nightmare to make the new films work around things like New Jedi Order, Legacy and Fate of the Jedi. However, that doesn’t mean ships, aliens, weapons and planets can’t come from the EU. It also means anything set in the past, like Darth Bane, could conceivably one day be made canon if someone in the new novels decides to drop his name. If J. J. and co. don’t do anything to establish the history of the Sith in the new movie, why not use Bane? Maybe at one point they’re going to need a throwaway line about Sith history, why invent someone new when they could pull from the EU? Like The Clone Wars did whenever it needed a planet or little-known alien.
Lucasfilm aren’t going to wipe something out if it is works well in the new timeline. Remember that even Coruscant came from the EU, technically. I’d be stunned if nothing from the EU ever makes its way into the new novels or even the new movies.
Reason #2: The EU Isn’t Going Anywhere
If this still doesn’t calm your passionate Sith rage at the loss of the EU then I recommend just altering the way you’re viewing it. Think of it like this, the EU still happened, it’s all still canon to itself. The movies are canon to the EU. The EU just isn’t all canon to the movies. Make sense?
There are two Star Wars universes, the EU and the new stuff we’re about to get. It doesn’t mean the EU doesn’t “count.” Just look to other franchises for similar examples, do Conan stories written after Robert E. Howard’s death “count”? Are they in the same world as the originals? Are they in the same world as the other completely different Conan stories that will come out in the future? There’s never going to be another Robert E. Howard novel but you can still read those stories and enjoy them, including how they all fit into the same continuity.
Mickey Mouse is not going to bust your door down and burn your copy of Heir to the Empire. Everything will remain in print. There isn’t going to be any new material but the old stuff isn’t going anywhere either.
Reason #3 There’s A Blank Slate To Fill With Stories
What did Luke and friends do once the second Death Star exploded? I have no idea but you can bet your ass we’re going to find out.
There’s already a new line of books planned, which will be the first of the brand new Star Wars tie-in novels. What will happen in them? I have no idea! Isn’t that exciting? There are years to fill out with new stories and new characters.
Also unlike the original EU from day 1 the new stories can pull from all six episodes. When it comes time for Luke to rebuild the Jedi Order, which c’mon he’ll totally do again, he could end up interacting with characters from The Clone Wars.
Where’s Ashoka in Return of the Jedi? I don’t know but I totally want to know. Unless she was going to turn up as an 80 year old, the old EU was never going to answer that question because Ashoka didn’t exist until the EU had made it fairly clear she hadn’t reared her head. The same goes for every other character from that era. Okay so some people will grumble they don’t want any prequel stuff in their Star Wars anyway, but I dare you to watch season 4 of The Clone Wars and not like it. I dare you!
So am I sad that there’ll never be any of the old EU continuations? Yes, I will miss Legacy II for instance. But when you sit and think about what we’re going to get over the next few years then it’s not a bad deal at all.
If you’re someone who still doesn’t think it’s worth it, then I understand. I don’t agree, but I totally see where you’re coming from. I urge you to try the new stories though. Star Wars is an amazing franchise and a brilliant playground for talented writers, the universe is more open and full of opportunity than it’s ever been in its entire history. We could be in for something really special.