J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII recently started filming, and with that looming on the horizon, as well as the stand alone spinoffs, the world George Lucas has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind. There’s also been a lot of talk about the role the Expanded Universe—comics, books, games, and other material not directly involved in the films—may play in the upcoming movies. Lucasfilm even recently appointed a task force of sorts to decide what is and is not canon. Now we have official word of what will and won’t fall under that banner moving forward.
Lucasfilm issued a press release that says that all media that will be released in the future will be considered a part of the official Star Wars Expanded Universe. The statement also indicates that, while some previous releases may not be an official part of that world, that doesn’t mean that those events can’t be referenced in new work.
The statement says:
While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.
Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm, adds:
We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon…We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.
Part of the purpose of this move seems to be keeping fans guessing about the potential plots for the upcoming movies. The filmmakers want to honor what came before, but also be able to throw in their own wrinkles and ideas and not be beholden to some concrete past. That makes sense when you think about it, there’s such a mass of surrounding media that it would be damn near impossible to keep all of the decades worth of minutiae straight. The release also says, “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.”
That said, the “Creators of new “Star Wars” entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe.” They also note that the upcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels, will feature pieces and elements from the Expanded Universe, including the Inquisitor, Sienar Fleet Systems, and more, all of which apparently come from 1980s role playing games. Basically, the whole field is open and ready to be mined for content.
Rebels will be the first addition to the new canon, but there are already plans for more, aside from just the films. Del Rey Books will publish a novel by John Jackson Miller that is currently being written, the events of which will reportedly precede Rebels and offer a glimpse into the backstory and origins of the characters from that show. We know that the series takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, so the novel should fill in some gaps between the two films. Previous entries into the Expanded Universe will also remain in production, and will be kept in print under the new “Legends” banner.
And as they say, this is just the beginning, and the Expanded Universe has just started to expand.