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What Star Wars: Episode VII Could Lift From the Expanded Universe

At this point in time we’re all stuck wondering about the new Star Wars trilogy Disney has promised, what the storyline for these upcoming films could possibly be. We’re hoping for something new, something that won’t be a rehash of old themes, but keep Star Wars cool and fun and relevant to a generation of moviegoers who have never grown up without Star Wars.

Is it likely that all tie-in media of the past couple decades will be ignored in creating these films, but that doesn’t mean that they should ignore it. Here’s a brief wishlist of what from the Expanded Universe we might want to see on the big screen.

1. Mara Jade

There are so many reasons why it would be fantastic if Mara Jade were pulled into film continuity. (A reminder that in a poll done for the Star Wars Insider years back, she was the only character from tie-in media who made the Top 20 Star Wars Characters of All Time list, as voted by fans.) For one, keeping Luke a celibate monk just because he’s the big Jedi Master on the galaxy campus seems unfair and a bit forced. But Luke’s romantic status aside, don’t we all want to see this incredible Jedi in action? Preferably with her Emperor’s Hand plotline intact? Mara Jade’s place in the Star Wars universe has always been a fascinating one, her journey so complex and intriguing that it seems a shame not to use her. If they are worried about explaining her presence away, they could treat her much in the same manner that the Marvel Universe does when introducing a character that comic fans will recognize and a general audience will not. Give her a fun introduction, treat her like she’s been there for a while, she’ll be embraced in no time. And it would have the added bonus of including more fabulous female characters in the Star Wars galaxy.

2. The Rogue Squadron

While following a small team of core characters does seem to be the way of Star Wars films, the development that the Rogue Squadron received in the novels make them just what the doctor ordered to keep those space battles from getting dull. Imagine taking down an enemy and instead of your usual chatter—“Red 5 to Red 3”—we got a gang of friends who are used to working together and giving each other hell. These days, most battles on film look exactly the same, and are outrageous for the sake of outdoing the other guys. This would be a welcome way of scaling back and keeping the action fun. And with how keen Disney is on creating individual Star Wars films that don’t play into a trilogy arc, this could be the perfect opportunity; if they gave those characters enough face time, they could easily spin off into their own movie, the same way they got their own book series.

3. The Jedi Praxeum

Some form of Luke’s academy from the novels seems like a given, but depending on how Jedi and Force-users are tackled in these movies, it’s possible they would erase the presence of the school altogether. Still, it seems impossible to deal with new Jedi without even making mention of the manner in which those Jedi become knights. Even if Luke’s particular set of students in the books are traded off for brand new characters, watching how he differentiates his practice from the Order that came before will be an important way of establishing how the Star Wars galaxy has changed since the Empire’s fall. In addition, it allows for a new cast of Force-wielding characters that don’t need to be bogged down in old Jedi Code rules. Those new characters will have all the potential that figures like Ahsoka Tano and Mace Windu and Aayla Secura brought to the table and were not quite allowed to deliver on.

4. More alien characters front and center

What Star Wars Episode VII could lift from the Expanded Universe

Because the Expanded Universe didn’t have to worry about budgets to create prosthetics or CGI for any number of species, alien characters had much more active roles throughout the novels and comics. Those Bothans that Mon Mothma was only able to refer to in Return of the Jedi are an active species, and they cause a lot of political ruckus. The current vogue for science fiction in pop culture has been to avoid aliens for the most part (or to use them as faceless, scowling villains the way The Avengers did and Pacific Rim is about to do), which is precisely why Star Wars making a comeback is so exciting. Give audiences more than that gorgeous cantina scene, let them enjoy a few more aliens besides Chewie, people with different customs and beliefs. Let Star Wars reach for a little bit more complexity instead of making alien life a cute side joke. If you’ve got it, there’s no reason not to show it off.

5. Cloning

While it’s extremely doubtful that Zahn’s Heir to the Empire Trilogy will be replicated to any extent in the new films, the decision to keep cloning a concern is just plain logical. The technology exists, it can be easily abused, and denizens of the galaxy are bound to have opinions on it. If an easy point of contention is needed, or simply a way to mess with our heroes, cloning can do the job. Who should be cloned? What kind of damage could cloning do to a galaxy that does not seem to have laws in place governing the process? How many clones are still left over from the Empire, if some of the old troopers made it all the way through the Rebellion’s win? There are so many possibilities and countless ways to implement them. Keep the clones.

6. The New Republic

There has to be some form of governing body in the galaxy. While fans might be concerned that the new films will get bogged down in the same overwrought political rhetoric that the prequels did, the bottom line is that Leia is a damned good politician, and would want to help oversee the restructuring of a new governmental body. What would emerge in the Empire’s place? Though we don’t need it to be a central piece of the tale, we do need to know how these people have reordered their worlds, what problems they faced in trying to pull it all together again. Who has the power now in their universe, who is pulling strings? Are the Outer Rim planets still on their own, or are they being folded in? Did more than one government get formed? Is there contention between the two? What about the criminal classes, how are they dealt with now? What about stopping the slave trade that exists in their galaxy? So many questions that could lead to so many new stories.

7. Worlds to Visit: Corellia, Nar Shaddaa, the Hapan Cluster and More

The Expanded Universe fleshed out worlds that were merely mentioned in the films and created many of their own. The combined effort made the Star Wars galaxy like a really good 31 flavors ice cream shop, where deciding what scoop you would go for was agonizing. Corellia should absolutely be explored, especially considering its link to Han’s heritage. Nar Shaddaa would give them the chance to explore the criminal classes, the underbelly, and in a far more interesting way than the lower levels of Coruscant provide. Then there are strange sovereign areas like the 63 worlds of Hapes, whole cultures that could be explored and provide intricacy. The Star Wars galaxy is a big place, and continuing to keep that at the forefront of these new films will give them the longevity that they seem to be going for.

What would you like to see from the Expanded set? Characters? Plot arcs? Places? Give ’em to me!

Emmet Asher-Perrin really hopes that the Boba Fett standalone film is based on the Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy, but that’s another matter enitrely. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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