Don’t Worry—the Star Wars Expanded Universe is Not Going Away Because of Episode VII

Screenwriter Simon Kinberg has got the internet all in a tizzy over comments he made regarding the current Star Wars spin-off screenplay he is writing. The quote given by the Hollywood Reporter seems to indicate that the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe is being trashed.

Not just the books and comics. Literally everything.

Here is the quote given by Kinberg in regard to what he will be pulling from canon:

“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.”

The specifics of this quote are telling. He says outright that using elements from the surrounding material is by no means a no-fly zone, but that the film canon is the film canon. This means that the upcoming trilogy will not be using major points established by any outside Star Wars property—that includes other popular media, such as The Clone Wars cartoon and the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels cartoon (that Kinberg himself is also writing for).

Here’s the thing—all this means is that the current screenwriters are being instructed to come to the table with new material. The last thing Disney wants is for every screenwriter to have to do a couple years worth of research (that’s how long it would likely take with all the material accumulated) to write one movie. More likely, each writer is being instructed to come up with a good script independent of the several encyclopedias worth of Star Wars information out there. If there’s something they remember from a book or the cartoons, an element they’d like to bring in, they’re allowed to suggest it. If what they write jives perfectly with EU and cartoon canon, awesome.

If it doesn’t… that’s not really a big deal. The Expanded Universe went through years of retcon when the prequel trilogy was released, and actually came out stronger for it by and large. In fact, the EU often improved on and made more sense of the prequels. The point is that the movies are always the primary canon. Everything else will always have to shift around them. That’s nothing new where Star Wars is concerned. It’s the status quo.

And the chances of them ignoring this deep well of material altogether is unlikely in the longrun. We can’t forget that the youngest generation imbibing Star Wars has grown up on The Clone Wars cartoon. That is Star Wars for them. To ignore their version of it entirely would alienate part of the core viewership for the upcoming films. The same is true for any kid who ends up loving the Rebels cartoon. These things have to at least appear as though they belong together, or you risk confusing your newest fans.

We can likely count on a lot of bleedthrough here; Coruscant appeared in the prequels because it became the galactic center in the Expanded Universe novels. No, we probably won’t see Mara Jade. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she is being deleted from existence—if this new trilogy follows a brand new set of characters, who knows what’s happening alongside their story?

At the end of the day, Star Wars is becoming a lot like comics. (Though I feel like this is an entirely separate discussion to have at another time.) There will be stories and arcs that some fans prefer over others. There will be entire versions of the universe that people chose to ignore. It will continue on this way.

But as far as Kinberg’s comments are concerned, it’s not an indication of impending canon-pocalypse. It’s just standard procedure when trying to add new threads to a tapestry that’s already taking up your entire wall and then some.

Emmet Asher-Perrin just wants to know who is in the new movie. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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