With a move that surprises no one paying attention to Star Wars news, yet still comes as a pretty painful moment, the brains and hearts behind Star Wars told the world via StarWars.com that the Expanded Universe no longer tells the official story.
The moment Disney announced the production of a Star Wars sequel trilogy, speculation surged about which of the EU stories the films would tell. Would we finally get to see a live-action Grand Admiral Thrawn? Would Disney go the Yuuzhan Vong route? But, with this announcement, it becomes Ilum-crystal clear that these films will blaze their own trail and forego the decades of storytelling stepping stones laid before them.
This news is almost not news, as George Lucas has said all along that while he approves the Expanded Universe material, he is not beholden to it in the films. The films are the spine of the universe. They are the first wave from which all others emanate, as has always been the case. J.J. Abrams and company are taking advantage of the precedent set by Lucas.
For many, this comes as a shock, as a betrayal even. The most loyal Star Wars fans have been reading the continuing adventures of the Big Three (Luke, Leia, and Han) since the 80s, and many of them were unpleasantly surprised by the announcement. There’s a sense that the entire Star Wars universe is already set in place, that any alterations to the core storylines, including introduction of new characters, will feel like Disney is destroying something fans have come to love.
But I say to those “loyal” fans, deal with it.
The sloughing off of years of twisting, turning plot-lines, of countless characters described, defined, and dissected, affords Abrams and company the ability to tell precisely the story they want to tell, visit the planets they want to visit, introduce the characters they want to introduce, without having to adhere to the details of some paragraph from a book written 15 years ago. The production team won’t begin the films cornered by decades of stories.
Abrams is now free to SURPRISE us, the fans, with new adventures, with new characters we’ll—almost undoubtedly—come to love. With the EU ignored, we’ll all get to be as we were before we ever saw a Star Destroyer glide overhead in Star Wars Episode IV: in a sacred, blissful place of not-knowing. Wouldn’t you rather that than sitting in the theater on opening night thinking to yourself, “WRONG. Luke used a shoto to fight Lumiya. WRONG. Anakin Solo died fighting the Vong.” etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. Now, you won’t know anything at all. I know that feeling can be scary for many people, but try to embrace it.
So, next year, try to forget Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, Mara Jade, and—I feel physical pain writing this—Han and Leia’s kids. If they’re not on-screen, it won’t be the end of the world.
The best part about all of this? CHEWIE’S STILL ALIVE PROBABLY! RAARWWRAR!