The One Reason the 'Star Wars' Expanded Universe Is No Longer Canon

The One Reason the 'Star Wars' Expanded Universe Is No Longer Canon

Jan 16, 2018

We're now three movies deep into a new era of Star Wars, thanks to Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm back in 2012. One of the big appealing factors of at least two of them have been the return of beloved characters from the original trilogy. Meanwhile, one of the big issues fans have had with Disney's rule, though it may have been made beforehand, is the decision to remove the "Expanded Universe" (now "Star Wars Legends") novels, comic books and more from franchise canon. But if it weren't for that change, one particular Star Wars icon would have been confusingly missing from The Force Awakens and its sequels.

One event in one novel published back in 1999 is to blame. The first installment of the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series of books, R.A. Salvatore's Vector Prime, was the first to kill off a major character from the movies, and not only that but the way this character died was rather laughable, at least in simplified explanations. Who was it? Chewbacca. How'd he meet his demise? A moon fell on him. It's an honorable, self-sacrificial death, but it certainly upset a lot of people. However, that's not why Lucasfilm decided to retcon the death and everything else. 

In a new episode of SyFy's Fandom Files podcast, Lucasfilm's Leland Chee, who used to work in Star Wars brand continuity and is now part of the similarly focused Star Wars Story Group, explains everything:

"For me, it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends -- a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca: because he can't speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca.

"But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you're not gonna deprive fans that. There's no way that I'd want to do an Episode VII that didn't have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison."

(As it turned out, another minor character from the original trilogy who'd died in the New Jedi Order books was also able to come back to life for the new movies --- SPOILER, only to die in The Last Jedi.)

As for Chewbacca, he's an instrumental component ofThe Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and surely next year's Episode IX, though if he hadn't been written into these movies fans still would have gotten to see their beloved Wookie in the prequel trilogy installment Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith and the upcoming spinoff prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story, for which a new official synopsis (see below) confirms another significant moment for the character. 

"Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes."

Chewbacca and Han Solo's first encounter was also detailed in the old Expanded Universe -- in the 2000 comic book Star Wars: Chewbacca, in which Han is an Imperial officer who spared and saved Chewie's life -- but that version of events is also now discarded from canon. How exactly the Millennium Falcon-piloting duo will meet on screen is still unknown, but it's hard to believe Han would be a member of the Empire in the movie. We'll see when Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on May 25, 2018. 

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