A moment of silence to honor the passing of the Star Wars Extended Universe…
Ok, now then: with Disney taking over the Star Wars universe with the transparent intent to exploit, expand and market it in every way conceivable, diehard fans of the Extended Universe–the collection of books, video games, toys, stories, comics and the like which originally populated the gaps left before, after and during the movies–mourn the loss of some of their favorite tales of the galaxy far, far away.
But there is hope! Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy has said that elements of the former EU (now known as the Legacy stories) might trickle into the new tales and become canon again. Some of it already remains: the prequel films and the Clone Wars TV series cherry picked from the EU, making planets like Coruscant and characters like the Nightsisters legit. Since Clone Wars remains canon, more bits of the EU might survive than first assumed.
Regardless, plenty of tales from the Extended Universe warrant revisiting in some form or another, and in case anyone from Lucasfilm or Disney is reading this right now (you know who you are, and so do we!) here are some friendly suggestions as to elements of the Extended Universe that should turn up in future Star Wars stories, or at least become canon again.
11. Leia Organa, Jedi Badass
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of The Force Awakens found beloved action heroine Princess–now General–Leia Organa Solo relegated to standing around in a bunker repeating the words of her subordinates with an officious tone. Given her family and Force sensitivity, she would have an obligation to study the ways of the Force, and become a Jedi. In the original EU, Leia tactfully studies the Force and becomes a powerful Jedi in her own right.
Give the woman a lightsaber! The developments in The Force Awakens offer a magnificent opportunity to have Leia take up the family craft. Can you imagine the dramatic tension of a saber-wielding Leia confronting her child for his actions?
10. Kyle Katarn
Kyle Katarn hit on the scene from the Dark Forces line of video games. A roguish mercenary with Force sensitivity, he combined everything great about Han and Luke into a single character. The role of the Resistance in the new sequel trilogy remains somewhat nebulous–exactly what is it compared to the Republic, and how does it function? With those questions still unanswered, and the Resistance presumably relying on the black market to gather intelligence and supplies, Kyle Katarn would make a great addition to the story, either as a contemporary of Leia and Han, or as a man roughly the same age as Poe Dameron. His inclusion could also open the door to non saga spinoffs about Katarn and his adventures exploring hides of scum and villainy.
9. Grand Admiral Thrawn
Perhaps the best villain to appear outside a Star Wars movie or TV show, Thrawn became the nemesis of the New Republic in Timothy Zahn’s widely praised Thrawn book trilogy. In it, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the last high-ranking member of the Empire, emerges from the shadows to defeat the fledgling Republic and reestablish the Empire. Early rumors about Episode VII suggested that Thrawn would become a major villain in the new films, possibly played by Benedict Cumberbatch, but of course, they proved false. Thrawn would, however, make a great addition to the First Order, since the Thrawn’s objectives in Zahn’s novels resembles those of the neo-Empire.
Another great addition from the Thrawn Trilogy, the Noghri are a primitive race of super-strong aliens loyal to Darth Vader. Noghri–who would go on to make a number of appearances in other novels and games–provided some interesting hints at the cost of the Clone Wars. Following a key battle over their homeworld, spacecraft wreckage poisons their environment. Vader earns their loyalty by scrubbing the planet surface clear of chemicals, allowing the Noghri to live on. Their devotion to Vader only adds to the dark reverberations of his Sith legacy, and the muscle-bound anatomy of the species would offer a great chance to see some impressive action in the new features.
7. Prince Xizor
Xizor shook up the dynamic of the Star Wars universe by giving Darth Vader a rival for the Emperor’s attention, and the head of the underground, black market organization Black Sun. The films have yet to explore the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe in any great detail, and restoring Xizor to continuity would provide a great opportunity to do so. Moreover, it would provide a Vader-like figure to act as a super villain of sorts. No doubt the black market/criminal underground played an important role in the rise of the Republic and the First Order. Xizor could be the key to stories exploring the seedy scum.
6. Mount Tantiss
Another relic of the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn, Mount Tantiss is something of an Area 51/NORAD for the Star Wars universe. The story goes that in the heyday of the Empire, Palpatine stockpiled designs for mega weapons like Death Stars inside a mountain hidden away in the Wayland system. Tantiss also has the last remaining cloning technology in the galaxy, after the Empire purged the clone planet–later revealed as Kamino in the prequels–of all technology, so as not to start another round of clone wars. A location like Mount Tantiss could act as a gateway to even more sinister threats to the galaxy, not to mention offer some explanation into the nonsensical Starkiller of The Force Awakens.
5. The Coruscant Senate
I know, I know…but the Senate scenes in the prequels are boring! That may or may not be true, but they do offer a glimpse into the political workings of the Republic, and the Senate Chamber itself has some visual gravitas. Just what happened on Coruscant following Palpatine’s death, and why didn’t the Republic try to re-establish a government there? A return to Coruscant would allow for an exploration of the chaos following the death of the Emperor, not to mention the remarkable landscape of the planet-city itself. Besides, with the destruction of the new Senate on the Hosnian system, the Republic will have to set up a new government somewhere!
4. The Yavin Academy
The Extended Universe held that Luke established a new Jedi academy in the old Rebel base on Yavin 4. While Yavin 4 didn’t exactly sit in the center of the galaxy, its proximity to other major planets like Coruscant or Nar Shaddaa offered easy access for Luke to intervene in a galactic crisis as needed, and to easily recruit new padawans. Granted, the EU had no murderous Kylo Ren to commit genocide and essentially push the reset button on the hopeful ending of Return of the Jedi, though it did have similar figures (Jacen Solo, another lunatic child of Han & Leia, comes to mind). Luke’s exile is one of the weakest elements of The Force Awakens. Future movies could nullify his irresponsibility and have Luke come out of hiding with new found resolve to stop the First Order. One of his first duties should be to start training a new generation of Jedi, and Yavin 4 would make a great location for it.
3. Clone Jedi
The animated Clone Wars series did an excellent job of exploring the daily life and career of a clone trooper, and the struggle of finding identity amid a race of, well, clones. One thing the Clone Wars neglected to do, which the EU did very, very well: the idea of cloning Jedi! Even if both Palpatine and the Jedi Order would oppose such experimentation, that wouldn’t stop rogue scientists from trying to create a Force-sensitive army. In the EU, the attempts to clone Jedi proved only partially successful. While the clones lived, their high sensitivity to the Force caused inevitable madness. What better way to add some stakes and drama than to inject the Snoke-Luke conflict with a third party of Force wielding maniacs hellbent on destroying both!
2. The Further Adventures of Boba Fett
Despite the countless internet rumors that Boba Fett actually survived his fall to the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi, no on-screen address has yet declared that he somehow escaped and managed to return to his bounty hunting ways. Disney/Lucasfilm has already announced a Boba Fett-themed anthology film, due out in 2018, so why not go one step further and explore his adventures in a post-Empire galaxy. Knowing his backstory as well–including his age–courtesy of Attack of the Clones would also add weight to his storyline. The Fett fan base is a rabid one, and Disney would be foolish not to advance his story.
1. Mara Jade
Despite never appearing in any Star Wars film or TV series, Mara Jade actually became one of the most popular characters in the entire saga. Perhaps no single element of the EU is more missed than Mara, the ginger-headed rogue Jedi, and if one character deserves to be restored in the new continuity, it’s Ms. Jade. Given the time that has passed between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Disney wouldn’t have to repeat the stories from the EU either. Rather, the films could simply introduce Mara as Luke’s wife (and likely Rey’s mother) as an already in-training pupil of Luke’s, and another terrific badass woman to add to the Star Wars roster. Then again, actress Laura Dern has joined the cast of the yet-untitled Episode VII, so maybe the House of Mouse has a similar idea!
The publications and games chronicling the now-defunct EU are, of course, still widely available for fans to explore as they eagerly wait for the next adventures in the Star Wars galaxy. Still, given the millions of dollars it generated over the years–in part, making the property a valuable investment for Disney–it should not be ignored. The new movies offer a chance to extract and refine the best elements of the EU for integration into canon, and Disney would be foolish not to take up the challenge.
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