Star Wars canon has changed significantly since Disney purchased LucasFilm and Star Wars from George Lucas back in 2012. Before the sale of one of pop culture’s biggest franchise, a whole ‘Expanded Universe’ had been created, with books, comics, games and graphic novels being produced with Lucas’ say so, furthering the story from a galaxy far far away.
These stories began almost 4000 years before A New Hope and the formation of the Jedi Order and ran to about 140 years after the events of the the first film with Luke, Leia and Han’s decedents, Cade Skywalker and Ania Solo. It covered everything from the legacy of the Skywalker and Solo families, the new Jedi started by Luke Skywalker and tales centred on everyone from main characters to that little weird alien fella you saw in the background of Mos Eisley’s cantina.
Now this Expanded Universe was considered canon pre-sale, although Lucas could over-rule it at any point should he make any more movies or tv shows. He, or a team close to him, had to approve or deny any story elements or character developments.
Since Disney though, the Expanded Universe was wiped from canon and is now termed ‘Legends’. No more entries into this universe are being made as Disney themselves look to create a ‘world’ of their own with tie in comics, books, games and tv shows, like Rebels, to compliment the movies. The status of Rebels and Clone Wars and canon was firmed up in Rogue One where Forest Whittaker portrayed Saw Gerrera, a character from the two aforementioned animations. We also saw Rebels droid Chopper and the ship ‘Ghost’ while Captain Synulda’s name was heard.
In fact it is probably easier to tell you what is now Star Wars canon than what is not. So the following is considered canon: the Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI), the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III), the new trilogy (Episodes VII-IX), Rogue One, the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rebels, the Clone Wars animated tv show, the Battlefront video games and a whole host of comics and novels.
However some elements of the Expanded Universe has made their way into canon, the biggest of which is probably Grand Admiral Thrawn, who appeared as the main villain in Star Wars Rebels third season. Created by author Timothy Zahn for the ‘Heir to the Empire’ trilogy of the Expanded Universe, he was a blue skinned ‘Chiss’ who took control of the Empire after Vader and Palpatine’s death and set an evil cloned Jedi on Luke Skywalker. In Rebels, he appeared with the same appearance as a high up Imperial hell bent on destroying the Ghost crew and burgeoning rebellion. His character is being developed more with Zahn writing a new Thrawn novel for Disney.
A number of planets, ships, crafts and characters have made their way in to the new canon as well. Nar Shaddaa, a smugglers moon that orbited the Hutt’s home planet of Nal Hutta which became canon in Marvel’s Star Wars comic in 2015. Malla, Chewbacca’s wife, who first showed up in the cringeworthy Holiday Special became canon in the 2015 novel A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy and Imperial Inquistors, force sensitive and Dark Side without being Sith who are sent by Vader and Palpatine to track down any Jedi that escaped Order 66 and just generally carry out evil deeds, and the idea that Han and Leia having a son that fall to the Dark Side are some of the more interesting examples.
The Expanded Universe was fun, probably with more poor output than good, but it did provide Disney with a plethora of ideas to draw upon should they want to. For now there is a distinct cut off though between Legends canon and Disney’s canon, much to the chagrin of some fans.
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