A long time ago (2012), in a galaxy far, far away (California) the House of Mouse bought the house George Lucas built. Star Wars, the crown jewel of Lucasfilm Ltd., was a gold mine in Disney’s eyes and they intended to take it all. Disney felt that the timeline was too confusing and filled with inconsistencies. Part of their plan was to streamline the sprawling universe made up of movies, comics, games, and novels and create a single more cohesive timeline. The Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) would be no more.
Disney relabeled the existing EU books as “Legends” and canceled all of the upcoming books that would have continued the story.
Fast Forward six years, four movies, a few TV shows, several comic book arcs, and a dozen or two novels and the very thing Disney said they’d get rid of is back. The Star Wars universe is no more and no less confusing than it was before 2012. The biggest difference is, in this writer’s mind, the passion is no longer there. The new canon books lack the spark that the Heir to the Empire trilogy had.
I will be honest here, I am a HUGE EU fan!!! I have read over 70 novels in the EU and I loved the majority of them. The EU was MY Star Wars.
Say what you want about the old Legends books, but they at least had consequences. The current books are almost completely inconsequential. Disney is so obsessed with their movies’ stories that the stuff in their books can’t be fully formed. If any of you have read books like Heir to the Jedi, Thrawn, or even Aftermath, you’ll know what I mean. Not a single story really fleshes out the movie plots or expands on anything. I mean, they’ve filled a little history between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but overall they don’t really matter. The books are so self-contained that they may as well be one-shot comic books.
EU books, on the other hand, progressed a story. Yes, there were plot holes, continuity issues, and some really bad books, but overall the narrative moved and they provided entertainment. The EU saw new characters be born and old ones die. They told small stories about a husband’s search for his wife and epic ones about extra-galactic invaders that caused billions of deaths. The EU evolved, these new books don’t.
My first exposure to the EU came in 1996 with Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Search novel, which was part of the Jedi Academy Trilogy. It was amazing to 11-year-old me. I had grown up watching my parent’s VHS copies of the Original Trilogy and was an avid action figure imagination-er. I had created my own Expanded Universe during my youth and I’d even mix Star Wars and Marvel toys together (I was a prophet and didn’t even know it). Reading that book made me want to dig deeper into the Star Wars universe than ever before. Before I knew it was a dozen books into the EU and thirsty for more. I continued to read every major EU series including the X-Wing series, Thrawn Trilogy (of course), and the massive New Jedi Order series. I was excited about the Sword Of The Jedi series that was planned, but Disney decided I wasn’t smart enough to separate the Legends books from their movies. Booooooo!!!!
Now that you know where I am coming from, let’s discuss why Disney should allow the Legends books to continue.
Like I mentioned before, the current canon suffers from many contradictions, plot holes, and continuity issues. How could it not? The official Star Wars universe includes all of the movies, Rebels, The Clone Wars, the current Marvel comics, non-Legends books, and the future movies and shows. Ahsoka and time travel, Darth Maul in everything, lack of characters in the present that played major roles in the past, and TOO MUCH BETWEEN Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope!!! Fuel issues have never been a problem, not even in the EU that I can remember, but all of a sudden its a big issue in The Last Jedi. Darth Maul has been dead, fought Obi-Wan again, had a brother, but none of that impacted the other movies, until this summer. Even Han Solo’s movie attempted to make him the scoundrel he was in A New Hope, but instead makes him a hero that helped start the Rebellion. Speaking of this summer’s Solo, don’t you think Han and Lando would have mentioned the droid they merged with the Falcon’s computer? Talk about continuity issues! And while Flow Walking, a Force technique in the EU, allowed Jacen Solo to see the past and imprint messages in the future it certainly didn’t allow him to grab someone and bring them through time. Actual time travel can really lessen the impact of events in the Star Wars universe because it means things can be undone, that consequences aren’t permanent. It’s like telling us Spider-Man has a sequel movie after seeing Infinity War.
Now I hear some of you screaming at me about the continuity issues in the EU. I hear your comments about how bad the book Darksaber was or how crazy the idea of a force-wielding Hutt is. I get it, but in a world of dozens of video games, countless comics, and hundreds of books there’s bound to be some losers and poor ideas. But let’s look at some of the good.
The Thrawn Trilogy set the standard for all things post-OT. It created one of the most beloved characters, enhanced Darth Vader’s legacy, and enhanced the history of the galaxy. The X-Wing series brought the adventurous side of Star Wars to light. It’s characters, the pilots of Rogue Squadron, were swashbuckling and rough around the edges. I, Jedi presented a unique personal story that was written in the first person. The New Jedi Order told an epic tale of alien conquest and did more to grow the characters than anything else since Vader said “No, I am your father.”
The primary reason the Legends books could do so much was the fact there was no plan for more movies at the time. This meant the authors could do more, create more worlds and characters, and take the story in places the movies couldn’t. The EU was meant for the fans, not the casual viewer. You had to have some base knowledge to even begin with the more simple X-Wing series let alone jump to Legacy of the Force or Fate of the Jedi. This meant reading them felt more personal than the main story of the movies. George Lucas made Star Wars for himself but these authors were writing the books for fans, because they were fans themselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been some good things from the reorganized canon. I really enjoyed the first run of the Darth Vader comics and the main Star Wars comic book has been mostly good. Although the last two years have seen it lose its purpose. It is running out of stories to tell that are interesting. The new Thrawn book was well written, but after his introduction on TV, he feels less threatening. He doesn’t have the same flare that Timothy Zahn gave him in the early 1990s. I didn’t really enjoy Rebels, it just felt too childish and felt like it tried too hard. Maybe because it wasn’t enough like the EU to me. I hated Solo but loved Rogue One. Take out Canto Bight, make Holdo behave like a real military leader (no leader would have withheld that information from their subordinate commanders. Especially one that commands a large portion of their forces), and combine Poe and Finn’s story (Poe was supposed to die in The Force Awakens anyways) and The Last Jedi would be in my top five.
Disney can bring the legends books back. I am fairly certain Christie Golden still has the Sword of the Jedi books saved somewhere. We are smart enough to separate Legends and the new canon. Disney could even have something like “Legends: Saga” where the storyline is cohesive and plain “Legends” to be what if’s and one-shots. What harm could come from it? The average movie goer is not going to refuse to watch the movies because they got confused by reading Showdown at Centerpoint. I think it would enable them to make even more money than they do now. There are people that are hungry for the story they grew up with to continue and they will pay for it.
I love Star Wars. I always have and always will. There will be ups and downs, good and bad, and I will be there through it all. Look for my companion piece on my favorite EU stories coming soon. Did you like the EU? Do you want the Legends to continue? Do you like the new books? Let us know in the comments below, and may the Force be with you.