Some Star Wars fans lost it when Disney first announced that they would be nixing all existing Expanded Universe material from the franchise's canon. All of a sudden, the decades worth of material that had sprouted up between 1977 and 2012 were erased in one fell swoop. Now, every bit of that material that isn't a feature film has been retro-actively been added to the Star Wars Legends brand.
On a surface level, it's easy to understand why fans would be upset over such a drastic move. If you'd spent a lot of time investing in this world, having all of it deemed irrelevant would be a big deal for anyone. However, this gave Disney and Lucasfilm an amazing opportunity. Rather than be beholden to a canon that was created before they owned the property, it would make sense to restart the whole thing so that you could make it all cohesive and consistent.
No longer would their be minor strands of inconsistency laced throughout the books, comics, and video games. Anything that came out would be fact-checked and approved by the Star Wars Story Group, which was established when Disney first acquired Lucasfilm.
On a recent episode of the "Black Girl Nerds" podcast, Lucasfilm creative executive Rayne Roberts talked about why forming the group was so important to Lucasfilm.
"I’ve spoken to [Kathleen Kennedy] about it, and what her initial idea was when she came into the company was, you know, she’d produced countless big franchise movies over her career, and a lot of times she’d noticed that there would be these ancillary books or supporting materials that would be developed to support these films, and the people that would go make those were not the same people who had been involved in making the movies, and there was this kind of disconnect. And so she was very intentional about saying, ‘I want to create a central development team that has their hands in everything, so that all of the various media can be really intuitively and intentionally connected.’"
In today's world of franchise-driven media, where super-fans analyze every little detail down to a microscopic level, this kind of approach is greatly appreciated. When you take the time and effort to invest in some world, there is nothing more distracting than when the pieces don't quite fit together. It's by no means the biggest deal in the world, but when everything fits together like a perfect puzzle, you're less likely to get pulled out of the world.
Of course, creating a Story Group like this is bound to have effects that go all the way to the top of the totem pole, and Roberts went on to explain how much easier it makes planning the future of the franchise.
"I think it’s been really comforting for [Kennedy] to know that the same team she works with to develop these movies is also in deep communication with everyone else. And we’re continuing to get better and better at it, that’s what’s really exciting. I mean, we’ve had our first couple of years where we’ve created connectivity, but we’ve got a lot more ideas to come."
In short, this group gives storytellers an opportunity to use characters in new ways. If there's an official timeline and lore to follow, then they'll know exactly where specific characters are at certain times. This knowledge could give them an opportunity to use that character where they may not have before.
Have any of you had a chance to consume a decent amount of Star Wars media outside of the films? If so, have you noticed an improvement in quality and/or continuity since Disney took the reins from George Lucas? Let us know down below!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first in many anthology films, is set to hit theaters December 16, 2016.