When Disney bought LucasFilm from George Lucas almost two years ago and announced that they would begin making additional Star Wars movies, I was cautiously optimistic. Many people were afraid of what they’d do to the universe Mr. Lucas created, to which I said they couldn’t make it any worse than Lucas already had (see Jar Jar Binks and Greedo shooting first).
But now, I admit, my faith has been shaken.
For weeks I’ve been hearing the rumors. In talking with others I’ve heard the dark whispers. I even saw headlines that seemed to confirm the gossip. Now, it has been officially confirmed.
The Expanded Universe is being cast aside so that future Star Wars movies and television series can be made without being beholden to it. 34 years of artists and authors pouring their hearts into a universe they love has just been erased like chalk from a blackboard.
The Expanded Universe (or EU for short) got its start shortly after the first Star Wars film was released. The Expanded Universe is the story of Star Wars told outside the realm of the movies. It consists of video games, comic books, and novels. I was ignorant of its existence until 1996 when the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project descended upon the ranks of fanboys everywhere, sparking instant nerdgasms in us all. I was a gamer, not a reader, so I was stoked about the game. When I heard there was a book to accompany the game I decided to check it out, and that was when I found out everything I had been missing.
I bought and read Shadows of the Empire, then began collecting all of the books in chronological order and devouring them. The Truce at Bakura. The X-Wing Series. The Thrawn Trilogy. The Jedi Academy Trilogy. I finally caught up with the story arc as The New Jedi Order series was released and I’ve bought each new book as it’s been released.
I’ve also kept up with the EU through video games. After Shadows of the Empire came Rogue Squadron. Then a sequel. Then another. Then came The Phantom Menace and Jedi Power Battles. Then Bounty Hunter which, despite its dismal reviews is one of my favorite Star Wars games. Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, The Sith Lords, are two of the best games I’ve ever played. I continued to play them all up to and including The Force Unleashed II.
I never did get into the comic books, however. Comics are a medium I just cannot make myself enjoy.
It’s plainly evident that I’ve dedicated a lot of time and money to the EU. I have over 100 Star Wars novels sitting on my book shelf. Many of the novels I’ve read multiple times. I have 15-20 Star Wars video games ranging from my N64 all the way to my Xbox 360. Many of the video games I’ve played through numerous times. So it comes as a huge slap in the face to me that the Expanded Universe, in which I’ve immersed myself for the last 18 years despite its flaws (Boba Fett died in the Sarlacc Pit. He should never have been brought back.), is being struck down and declared null and void.
Yes, I do realize that St. George himself once affirmed the EU was not canon, but I know that he approved all (or most) of the story lines prior to selling his franchise to that company who ruins all of its young stars. It seems to me that, even if he would later want to discard a part of the EU (such as the Jaster Mereel story line for Boba Fett which he abolished by revealing Fett is really a clone in Episode II), he wouldn’t dispose of it entirely. Of course, it’s no longer his call.
While reading the announcement from LucasFilm, I couldn’t help but feel like I had just awoken from a dream in which I had spent the day with the most beautiful woman on the planet. It was the greatest day ever, but as I rub the sleep from my eyes it dawns on me that none of it was real. It was all just a manifestation of my subconscious. Well, it seems to me the last 18 years haven’t been real. It seems LucasFilm doesn’t think much of the time and money I invested (nor that of the millions of others who also invested their time and money) into the EU, and that is upsetting.
I’m not going to mount some high horse and tell you I’m going to boycott the new movies because we all know that’s not going to happen, but I’m very disappointed that Kathleen Kennedy and her team decided to go this route when there are many worthy novels and comic book story lines in the EU from which they could have crafted new movies (Thrawn trilogy, helloooo??). The good news (or silver lining, if you prefer) is that all movies, novels, video games, and comics will go forward as a cohesive story, united across all media. That’s something, at least, to know that this will never happen again.