– by Joseph Jammer Medina

It’s been over five years since Disney took the reins of the Star Wars franchise by acquiring Lucasfilm. From there, it didn’t take long before the studio executed Order 66 on the entirety of the Expanded Universe of Star Wars. This meant that all the story fans had been reading for the past few decades were now null and void.

No longer were characters Jacen and Jaina Solo part of the actual canon of this world, and no longer would stories like Shadows of the Empire hold any weight in the current continuity. In addition, the moniker of this multimedia content was changed from “Expanded Universe” to “Legends.” While many fans were upset by this move from Disney and Lucasfilm, it made a lot of sense. The waters were already muddied with contradictory stories, and the last thing they wanted was for their new trilogy of films to be hindered by what came before, especially since most mainstream audiences have never even touched a book.

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However, it while that’s a good enough reason in and of itself, it sounds like Chewbacca was a key reason as to why Lucasfilm opted to wipe the Expanded Universe clean. Speaking with Syfy, longtime Lucasfilm employee Leland Chee said:

“For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends — a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca.”

“But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an Episode VII that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi have both hit theaters since then, and in both films, Chewbacca had a fairly important role. As with the original trilogy, Chewie is able to live on in fandom thanks to this move from the studio.

Do you think this was the right move for them to change to the Expanded Universe to Legends? Let us know down below!

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  • CrystalClearTruth

    lol. They bring back Chewie just to kill off Han, Luke and Leia. Right. Who is Chewie going to pal around with now? BB8?

    • SaiyanHeretic

      1. Wookies have far longer lifespans than humans, so he would have outlived them anyway.

      2. Nobody would be eager to recast Han, Luke, or Leia with new actors, but Chewbacca is a tall guy in a furry suit, and lots of people can imitate Peter Mayhew’s iconic roar.

      • Weresmurf

        Peter Mayhew never made the roar, it was created in post. But yeah, Chewie was recast in Episode 7 already.

  • oh_riginal

    What was his big role in The Last Jedi? All I seem to remember him doing is sitting around waiting on Rey, then flying for her while she smiled and said she liked shooting lasers at her enemies, making them explode violently. ;-P

    • David E

      Roasting Porg and feeling guilty about Roasting Porg.

      • oh_riginal

        And yell at Luke and not hug him like how Leia didn’t hug him after Han died.

        Chewie gets no love in the sequel trilogy. R2 got more love and he basically had one scene.

  • Moby85

    I agree with the decision to shelve the EU on a number of levels. Due to the fact that Peter Mayhew was able to train that young Finnish guy to become Chewie (in my mind, a seamless fit) Chewie can offer a major, original character, that will serve as connective tissue to perhaps SEVERAL subsequent trilogies given the actor’s young age.

    Furthermore, I have been reading a 2012 Star Wars book on the “Essential Guide to Warfare” and the history of the expanded universe is so dense, so detailed, that filmmakers would be forced to only film EU stories with little room to be original.

  • FeixPunk

    Bring back the EU as an alternate universe. I loved the EU. I would love to read the Sword of the Jedi books about Jaina. Mike Stackpole’s Xwing books and I, Jedi were always my favorite.

  • SaiyanHeretic

    The EU and multiple levels of canon was always unwieldy. Even with the new “from now on everything is canon” rules, they’re going to run into creative roadblocks. The smarter answer would be to simply say, “Only the movies are true canon, everything else is secondary and subject to retcon, the end.”

    • Ditko

      That was Lucas’ approach, only the movies are canon. It really is the smartest way.

  • MaryP

    I CANNOT believe they would do all that just to save Chewie — and then kill off so many other beloved characters. Why would they do that?? Although I do not believe Luke and Han are really dead. LOL whenever someone looks dead and then falls a long way and we don’t see what happens to them, they’re not really dead. And Luke’s final shot in TLJ doesn’t prove anything — Jedi have been disappearing forever. I don’t get what everyone’s so upset about, thinking he died — there’s no proof of that whatsoever.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.