During this past week, Disney and Lucasfilm have given us some news concerning the galaxy far, far away and though it may not be exactly what we all want to hear, it’s at least a start that Disney is slowly beginning to release more information.
Lets begin with screenwriter Simon Kinberg, who is working on one of the Star Wars spin-offs as well as the upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, who told IGN that none of the current expanded universe material would be used for episode VII, saying. ” You know, it’s not off-limits, and it’s certainly inspiring — I’m working on an animated show for Lucasfilm as well, Star Wars: Rebels, that will take inspiration from everywhere, but I know for the movies, the canon is the canon, and the canon is the six films that exist.”
On Friday, Disney & Lucasfilm then released an official statement concerning the future of the expanded universe and what, if anything may or may not be done with the current expanded universe that currently sits on bookshelves like mine.
While the Expanded Universe will not be appearing in any official Star Wars films, it won’t be entirely ignored in the new Disney/Lucasfilm, era. The books will stay in print, and elements from the EU could be used in other EU Star Wars media, like Star Wars Rebels, but it will be as if the entire (what’s already been created) Expanded Universe officially never happened. To be clear the official Star Wars canon as of now is the six Star Wars movies and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Everything else moving forward, movies and novels will be canon.
Lucasfilm and Disney Publishing Worldwide have also unveiled a new line of Star Wars novels, to be published by Del Rey Books. This will be a more coordinated approach between the Star Wars movies, animated series and any spin-off material.
From Star Wars.com
Announcement of the Relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction Line
Going forward, Lucasfilm has begun mapping out the narrative future of Star Wars storytelling that will appear on film and television and in other media so that all projects will benefit from real-time collaboration and alignment. The future Star Wars novels from Disney Publishing Worldwide and Del Rey Books will now be part of the official Star Wars canon as reflected on upcoming TV and movie screens.
“With the establishment of the Lucasfilm Story Group and our even greater focus on unified storytelling, we expect our entire publishing program to be stronger and more meaningful than ever before,” said Jeanne Mosure, senior vice president and group publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “We’re extremely excited to kick off this new strategy with Del Rey Books.”
The first novel to benefit from this deeper collaboration is Star Wars: A New Dawn, by bestselling author John Jackson Miller. Set prior to the events of the forthcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, this novel tells the story of how two of the lead characters of the series, Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, came to cross paths. To tell this important backstory, Miller benefited from contact with series executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman, who together ensured this tale will be part of the Star Wars canon of storytelling going forward. It is scheduled for hardcover and eBook release on September 2, 2014.
“We’re extremely proud of the hundreds of amazing Star Wars books we’ve published at Del Rey,” said Scott Shannon, SVP, publisher, Del Rey and Digital Content, “And now we’re excited to finally be able to call our upcoming novels true canon — a single, cohesive Star Wars storyline — all while keeping the amazing backlist of Star Wars Legends content in print.”
Following Star Wars: A New Dawn, the all-new Star Wars fiction line will continue with the following 2014/2015 titles:
STAR WARS: TARKIN
STAR WARS: HEIR TO THE JEDI
STAR WARS: LORDS OF THE SITH
In years past, the storylines that would appear in print and on screen were developed separately, resulting in an “Expanded Universe” that differed in ways large and small from the filmmaker’s “canon.” These rich stories provide a treasure trove of characters to fall in love with — and deep worlds to explore and will live on in both physical and digital editions, newly-branded as Star Wars Legends.
I can understand the reasoning behind the decision with the current Expanded Universe and say in a sense, yes it’s there, but officially it’s not part of the official Star Wars cannon. I get it, you don’t want the fans of the EU clamoring or upset with any possible story lines they have come up with for Episodes 7, 8 and 9 or the separate spin-off movies.
They want as clean of a slate as possible for their screenwriters and directors to be able to make and tell the stories they come up with. It’s similar to the decision made by Paramount with the Star Trek franchise by creating the alternate universe in order to bring back the original characters and not be restrained by previous material.
After all Disney paid over 4 billion in order to acquire the Star Wars franchise and the last thing they want is to be restrained in the story they tell. If I had paid that kind of money I would probably be thinking along the same lines.
Now, will Disney and Lucasfilm just totally ignore the EU? My first answer to that would be NO. The current EU that’s out there has existed for about as long as Star Wars itself. For Disney and Lucasfilm to totally not use some of it as they make the new trilogy in my mind would be disrespecting not only the fans that have read the EU, but also to the writers of the EU.
I’m not asking that they recreate some of the same story lines or have some of the same events happen as they did in the novels, but using the names for certain characters, should they come to life on the big screen would be showing respect to the fans who are very familiar with the material.
For example, Luke’s wife in the novels was a woman by the name of Mara Jade. A name and character that was introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in 1991 and knowing the main three characters from the original trilogy will have a huge presence in Episode VII I don’t think you can have Luke be married or even referenced that he was and have it be any other name.
For those who go see the new movies and have never read any of the EU novels they may not care what her name is or what it should be, but I would hope Disney is at least aware enough not to make certain mistakes while moving forward.
At this point and time I’m going to give Lucasfilm and Disney the benefit of the doubt and will reserve my full judgement until after I have seen Episode VII in the theaters. To do so any sooner would be making a rash judgement that I have seen many do when it comes to other movie franchises and in my opinion they come across as closed minded.