If you haven’t read Brian’s great article about the potential of a Star Wars multiverse you should go check it out at Tosche Station. My post here is actually a response to his post in a way. My post isn’t meant to be an attack on his (we are friends) merely a look at things from a different perspective. I don’t hate what he lays out as a plan for the future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and if that is the way things went I could accept it, but it’s not what I hope to see.
So why don’t you like the multiverse idea? The Marvel multiverse is a jumbled mess. Sure the last few Marvel movies all seem to exist in the same continuity but let’s look beyond that. Take the X-Men for example. In the movies alone there are at least 3 separate continuities (counting the Wolverine movies). In the comics there are no less than 10, and there have been 4 animated shows all with their own continuity. What’s good about a multiverse can also be bad. Unlimited story possibilities. This can get out of control. Another example from Marvel is Spider-Man. This character has 30 different continuities… just in the comics. This is something fans of comic franchises like Marvel and DC are used to. Their favorite characters are constantly changing with the times. This is not Star Wars though. The thing that has always been appealing to me about the Star Wars universe has been the attempt to keep everything as one big story. There aren’t multiple versions of Luke’s origin. Luke doesn’t get rebooted to appeal to a more modern audience. The story is the story. Sure there have been plenty of contradictions, but they can usually be cleaned up with clever (and sometimes not so clever) retcons. Yes, George’s vision has sometimes contradicted Expanded Universe sources. No big deal. If it contradicts with a Star Wars film or The Clone Wars it gets kicked out of continuity. Simple. Clean.
“…unless something occurs in a canon project (*Star Wars films, The Clone Wars) to directly contradict a published source (*comics, books, etc..), it can reliably be said to have occurred. Extensive records track the growth of the Expanded Universe, cataloging planets, characters, technology, and events, to allow for a sprawling, believable continuity connecting the published works of the Star Wars universe. It’s not perfect… This is not to diminish these tales in any way, but rather to illustrate that the Star Wars Expanded Universe is a living document that grows and evolves over time.” – Pablo Hidalgo from the Essential Readers Companion (2012)
*I added the stuff in parenthesis for clarification
It evolves over time. Why change this going forward? We don’t know yet what the new Star Wars movies will contain and how well they will mesh with the EU we know. I’m sure many people thought the EU was in trouble when the Prequels came out. It survived with no alternate timeline needed. Sure they had to make some changes to Boba Fett’s backstory, but it survived.
Isn’t Star Wars already a multiverse? From a certain point of view, yes. There are a number of Star Wars stories that exist outside of the main continuity like the Infinities comic series, most of the Tales comics, and one would suppose the upcoming The Star Wars comic series. But these stories are usually more of a “what if” scenario and have never been described as parallel universes. On the most simple level Star Wars can be broken down into 3 canon levels.
- The main canon/George’s vision – This is the 6 films and The Clone Wars TV series.
- Everything else – All the comics, books, video games, etc.. that make up the Expanded Universe. This continuity includes the stories of the films and The Clone Wars and adjusts as necessary to fit with them.
- Non canon/Infinities – This is everything that doesn’t fit. Stories that were never meant to be part of the canon and stories that have been kicked out of the canon because they no longer mesh with the main canon.
Will these designations change with George walking away and Disney taking over? Probably, but the change doesn’t have to be drastic.
So what do you suggest? Do what has always been done. Once the movies come out make adjustments as necessary. For all we know the movies may be set far enough into the future that they won’t contradict with the EU at all. What’s more likely is that they will contradict a number of novels that come after Return of the Jedi. They may even contradict all the post RotJ novels. This doesn’t mean that the new movies can’t exist with the rest of the established EU. So we may lose a bunch of post RotJ novels to Infinities status, or maybe they will retcon them as a really crazy dream Luke had, but we will still have our one cohesive, ever-evolving story.
But I want to know what happens with Ben, Jaina, Tahiri, Jag... Yeah so do I, and we will likely get more on those characters in Crucible and Sword of the Jedi (please don’t cancel SotJ!) but we have to look at this from a pure business perspective. Does it make financial or marketing sense for Disney, or whatever publishing company they use, to continue to publish novels that have nothing to do with and may contradict the movies they are about to make? If the movies feature children of the Solos and Skywalkers that aren’t Ben and Jaina, I doubt the stories of those characters will go much further than what has already been announced. We instead will get new books and comics that focus on either the new characters introduced or eras that do not overlap with the new films. This will be sad for fans of characters like Ben and Jaina, but it is a possibility we should prepare ourselves for. The EU will probably shift its focus to revolve around the new films.
Only time will tell what will happen with the Expanded Universe in the future. Things will likely change in some way and sometimes change is good. For now all we can do is speculate and for some of us speculation is half the fun. The good news is the Expanded Universe is probably not going away and the better news is we are getting new Star Wars films. In times like these it can feel a little uneasy to be an EU fan, but we should also feel extremely excited as Star Wars fans. And in the end that’s what we all have in common.