Finally… finally… the new EU (expanded universe) canon has been announced, and so I’m taking this opportunity to resume transmissions on Star Wars Always!
The take home message is that the old EU is gone. Destroyed by the Empire! (Or Kathleen Kennedy—take your pick.) Catalogue titles will now be published with a “Legends” banner, although they will continue to be mined for interesting ideas and elements.
Meanwhile, episodes I-IX will be part of the new canon, as will The Clone Wars and Rebels and any new content going forward, including tie-in media. No more convoluted canon hierarchies, and no more distinctions between what’s EU and what isn’t. From now on, if it sports the Star Wars logo and it’s a new Del Rey release, it’s canon. (Presumably this will include forthcoming Marvel content as well, but where this leaves Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is anyone’s guess. Edit: This question has been answered in the affirmative.)
None of this is particularly surprising if you’ve been paying attention, but I’m sure some fans are still in shock right now. My personal opinion is that the EU had its hits and misses, but a reboot and new unified framework was needed if tie-in material was going to be viable in this new era of Star Wars content.
In the next 12 months we’ll be getting at least the following content, and maybe more still:
- May-July 2014: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, a comic miniseries based on unused scripts written for The Clone Wars
- September 2014: Star Wars: Rebels, a new animated TV series set prior to Star Wars: A New Hope, with an aesthetic heavily influenced by the work of original Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie; this will be accompanied by a new novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, which will be a prequel to the series penned by John Jackson Miller with input from the show’s creators
- November 2014: Star Wars: Tarkin, a novel by James Luceno exploring Tarkin’s backstory in-depth
- January 2015: Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi, a novel by Kevin Hearne set between Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back that follows Luke Skywalker and is written in the first person
- March 2015: Star Wars: Lords of the Sith, a novel by Paul S. Kemp that follows Darth Vader and the Emperor (Edit: Kemp adds that it’s set between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels, and it features a character from The Clone Wars.)
What is particularly striking is how, excepting the Darth Maul miniseries (which is really a Clone Wars leftover), all this content closely hews to the original trilogy. Even Tarkin, which will no doubt cover the Clone Wars period at the very least, centres on a main character from Star Wars: A New Hope.
I can’t emphasise this enough: Lucasfilm under Kennedy is refocusing the Star Wars brand very tightly on the original trilogy, most likely for two reasons: 1) to win back alienated fans by returning to what defined Star Wars in the first place, and 2) to set the scene for Episode VII in less than two years.
But with a new unified canon model, the term “expanded universe” is now redundant. The EU, even as a general concept, is officially dead. A New Dawn indeed…