Apr 28 2014

Debate of the Day: How Much Do You Care About the Death of the Star Wars Expanded Universe?

Published by at 2:03 pm under Debate,Movies

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It was announced this weekend that in order to give the filmmakers “more freedom” when crafting the new endless series of Star Wars movies we’re about to see, starting with Episode VII, that now all comics, books and games relating to the Star Wars Expanded Universe are now officially declared null and void. As in, they’re no longer canon, and whatever the movies produce will be.

There’s naturally an uproar now that fans of all the beloved Expanded Universe Star Wars stories A) won’t see them adapted into films and B) have their beloved stories “not count” when it comes to the official universe. “It’s like they don’t even exist now!” they cry, and fail to realize the irony of that statement.

As much as I love Star Wars, I don’t quite see the drama here. Like, you would have to be a level 100 fanboy to literally have your enjoyment of a series of books stripped away because they’re no longer “canon.” Like, you still read the stories and loved them at the time. Why does it matter that this portion of a fictional universe is no longer what “really happens” in that fictional universe?

If you liked the stories, I get why you might be sad they’re not making them into films, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fresh ideas. Sure, there are great Expanded Universe stories, but there are also terrible ones. And there are just so many total that crafting an endless film series while dancing in and around them would be nearly impossible.

That said, Abrams and Disney have a lot to live up to now, because if their new Star Wars is bad, these fans will be shouting from the rooftops about how the Expanded Universe got it right and Hollywood screwed it up.

What do you make of all this?





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14 responses so far

  • David R

    Unquestionably the right call. Aside from sidestepping the tedium that would result if forced to hew to all the stories and backstories and context embedded in thirty years of literature, jettisoning the EU is what Lucas always said he would do if he had to.

    Without being too cutting about it, the Star Wars supplemental literature was never much more than official fanfic. Lucas was generous enough to let people play in his sandbox, but neither he nor anybody else should feel like they have to agree with the artistic whims of dozens and dozens of writers as they move forward.

  • Joe

    Obviously the EU is all based on the foundation laid by the original movies, but does all the content within the EU match up 100% anyways? As a person who has only read 3 or 4 EU stories by different authors I cannot say. But I would find it hard to believe that all the story lines in the EU all match up perfectly given how many characters, planets, and time frames the EU spans – as well as the number of authors involved.

    With that said, I don’t really see a problem with Lucas declaring the films as gospel of the Star Wars universe. If anything, doing so will create another canvas on which new or existing EU authors can paint and perhaps with more solidarity.

    • Rex_Hondo

      They’ve actually done a surprisingly good job of making sure stuff matches up from author to author. Even when they don’t match up, somebody (usually Timothy Zahn) will come along with an explanation, or at least a passable hand-wave.

      • Joe

        Thank you for clarifying!

        I still, however, feel the same way about the movies potentially creating another base on which to write more EU stuff.

  • cypher20

    Well, I’m not a level 100 fanboy but I did read some of the earlier EU books. They were good and interesting, especially the Rogue Squadron ones. Overall, I do find it hard to see the drama. It would have been a nightmare to bind the movies by the EU and besides, most of the movie going audience would have been in the dark as they haven’t read the EU. I think it was the right decision and that further, it really shouldn’t be a surprise.

  • Luke Martin Shimek

    I have not read much since 2002, so I cannot comment on that. Before that point, I had read over 50 pieces of the EU. While I am not terribly surprised that Disney is killing the EU, and I think most of the discussion here brings up good points about why to jettison it, this probably marks the end of my interest in Star Wars going forward.
    While there was some low quality “fanfic” parts of the EU, many of the stories were of higher quality than the bulk of the “official” universe. The EU is what kept me interested after the Prequels attempted to sap the life out of the franchise. I’m sure its just being an old codger, but it seems like the most recent stories are not aimed at people who have been with SW since the last of the original films.

  • http://enathansisk.com E. Nathan Sisk

    I don’t really care about the stuff that would have happened after Return of the Jedi, but what about the prequel stuff? As in, Knights of the Old republic. If I was being honest, the best Star Wars story I’ve seen was KOTOR.

    • David R

      1) Hard to see how that millennia-old stuff is even relevant to the new movies, as they appear to only be going forward at this point.

      2) Lucas used and/or influenced a decent amount of the material that filled in the historical blanks of his onscreen universe. Wouldn’t be surprised if the current crop of filmmakers employs the same strategy of simply taking what they like and ignoring the rest.

      3) Ultimately, the Prequel stuff is still EU, even if it’s interesting. You may not know this, but am I right in thinking that Plagueis is essentially canon, or was that hyperbole at the time of release?

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com/ Nick Verboon

    It’s pretty much just common sense. No way can the films move forward being beholden to all of that material out there. I’m more bent that they made the Clone Wars CG cartoon canon. Now that felt like fanfic.

  • NeoDevilZ

    A bit disappointing to see the EU go. Much like the article stated, there were great EU stories, but equally just as many bad ones. I guess rather than picking and choosing what remains and what goes, its easier to just chop it all out and start fresh.

    My hope is that the added creative freedom allows them to make some spectacular storylines.

  • venom_y3k

    I think is a good thing that they are not canon, that way they dont have to force stories that fit that universe. But it didnt say anywhere that they wont take any ideas, stories from they, maybe they will if it fits the big picture the movies are taking.

  • Rex_Hondo

    On the one had, I can understand Disney starting fresh. Also, I’m usually the guy arguing against the idea that we somehow “own” our favorite properties and get a vote on what’s official and what isn’t.

    Then I look at my shelf full of Star Wars literature, ponder the twenty-plus years I’ve invested financially and emotionally in that version of events, and can’t help but feel a little stung that the people in charge of Star Wars now don’t love it, warts and all, as completely as myself and a lot of other fans. (Not the most rational response, I admit)

    I also can’t help but feel a bit offended on behalf of the authors who worked damn hard to not only craft interesting stories, but to make sure that their work jibed not only with the movies, but with each others stories, who are now being told that their decades of work is simply not good enough to be included in the new paradigm. (Again, not rational, but just how it feels)

    I’ve made an uneasy peace with it, though, by just reminding myself that, even though alternate universes were never thick on the ground in Star Wars like in Star Trek, that’s essentially what the new canon is going to be. The new canon may produce some wonderful stories. That remains to be seen. Nobody’s coming to take my books away, though, and I can consider them to be my, personal, Prime Star Wars Universe if I damn well want to.

  • nickro

    As someone who has read almost all the EU post ROTJ books I can say that I really don’t care that they aren’t canon anymore. I’d much rather see new movies than more books. Don’t get me wrong I read those books and liked most of them but I started reading them because I loved the movies so much that I wanted it to keep going.

    I’m not sure I understand though, why it is necessary to decree all EU as non-canon. They make comic book movies all the time without adhering to the comic book canon. Maybe someone can explain that.

    As far as seeing the EU stories as movies I’m not sure I’d completely count that out. Like other pointed out they didn’t say they wouldn’t use those stories at all, just that they aren’t going to be canon anymore. I loved the Rogue Squadron books and think those were by far the best books of the series even better than the Thrawn Trilogy which I think is way overrated (I know it’s blasphemy to say that). Also even though it’s Old Republic, I’d love to see them make the Darth Bane series into a movie Trilogy. That was probably the best of all the EU that I read and totally don’t care if it’s not canon it was still a great series. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

  • goseebananafish

    It is a smart decision and a smarter decision to announce it now. Get all of the complaining out there at once and hopefully we won’t have to readdress it every time something in a new movie contradicts something in a book that relatively few people read.

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