There’s a lot (perhaps too much) complaining about all things Star Wars lately. The timing makes sense, since Star Wars has been in the news lately. The biggest quip of late has been the news that Disney is essentially rebooting the expanded universe (EU). This got everyone’s panties in a twist. The real kicker here though, is that this doesn’t matter in the long run.
I should start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of the Star Wars expanded universe. I have an entire bookshelf with only Star Wars books on them. I loved a great deal of the stories told in the expanded universe. While it kind of sucks that those stories won’t continue, it doesn’t mean the other books are being gathered up and burnt up Hitler style. Instead they’re reestablishing a new line of books that will run in line with their new onscreen efforts. This has always been the case. No matter what Wookiepedia claimed or whatever else, the onscreen universe came first in terms of canon. This reboot was always coming and there are good reasons why.
What’s worth mentioning though, is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Back during the airing of the Clone Wars television show, Karen Traviss was writing her Republic Commando series. As it turned out, the writers of the Clone Wars wanted to go in a different direction than she did. Therefore Traviss was told she could either change course with them, or abandon ship. She chose the latter and the series ended at least a book short. It’s unfortunate, but when you have a universe as expansive as Star Wars it’s bound to happen.
When it comes to the new movies, there’s a business decision to be made. It’s not that Disney wanted to erase everything Del Rey and Lucasbooks put together just because they felt like it. Instead they’re looking out for the general audience member who hasn’t touched the EU. Imagine having to go into a Batman movie knowing the entire sixty years of comic book history that preceded it. You’d be lost. It would be really tough to enjoy something that was simply stuck in an existing timeline.
This way everyone gets a fresh start and things make sense. The writers are able to cherry-pick the areas and characters they want to use (very much like comic book movies do) and continue on from there. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Solos only have the twins. Having Anakin would be confusing for audiences. While you may think that it would be simply to differentiate between the two, the general public isn’t that smart. People will claim confusion and it’s just easier to avoid that all together.
This also gives people a fresh place to jump on from. I can only imagine the number of people who have wanted to start reading the books only to realize to understand where certain characters came from and other references you’d have to go through nearly forty years of comic books and novels. It’s daunting to say the least. Now people don’t have to worry so much about that and they can start reading from the new beginning.
It’s entirely possible that down the road we’ll see fan favorite characters such as Thrawn and Mara Jade made into movie characters, albeit with a slightly different history. That’s worth something in my book even if it isn’t done exactly the way it happened in the EU. As long as they keep true to the spirit of the character – like comic book movies tend to – then I’m okay with it.
In the end, for those who loved the EU, those books are still there. They’re not going anywhere. Sure, those particular characters and threads may not be continued any longer, but that doesn’t mean this new phase in Star Wars won’t be any good. I would love to see everyone give it a chance and see where it goes. At the very least Lucas isn’t involved right?