The Last Jedi; A New Hope for the EU?

With the release of The Last Jedi a mere day away, anticipation–and expectations–from fans are incredibly high. The feelings left behind from Force Awakens were mixed. Some loving it, some hating, some feeling it was just a rehash of the original trilogy.

Many people have avoided watching trailers altogether, wishing to be completely surprised upon release. Some of us have watched trailers, but refused to watch anything else related at all. Some have watched everything and want to go in as prepared as possible.

For me, personally, I love the trailers because they get me amped up.

But I don’t want to know anything else. Especially because of the changes in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If you aren’t a hardcore SW fan, or love the movies but do not know the EU, here’s the breakdown. The EU is basically everything within the Star Wars franchise, story-wise. It includes everything from the books, to the original movies, video games, cartoons, and more.

For the longest time, the EU was considered Canon. This means it was accepted as an official part of the storyline/universe. Everything from the Solo twins (Jacen and Jaina), to Mara Jade Skywalker, the Yuuzhan Vong wars, Darth Nihilus, and everything before, after, and in-between counted as part of the official narrative.

But then, LucasFilm did something that left many fans–and many of us still–reeling.

The Expanded Universe was no more.

On April 25, 2014, an official statement was released, outlining the decision to eliminate the EU from the canon.

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.”

The reason provided for the disconnect from the existing EU was to give the writers more freedom.

It would allow them to shape the upcoming movies and stories without the restrictions of tying everything in.

The decision did make sense. But, this revelation was still a blow to those of us whose favourite stories and characters are from the EU. For me, my entire obsession with Star Wars was solidified because of the EU.

The characters I came to admire and adore were being erased from official canon. They still exist, but no longer would there be a future for them.

“In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe.”

Basically, for anyone familiar with the EU, we were going into the new trilogy just as blind as everyone else.

It was interesting to see them tie in elements of the EU with Force Awakens. Many a theory has come forward that Rey and Kylo are basically Jacen and Jaina Solo–the children of Han & Leia–reimagined. This is a theory I subscribe to, based on the characters themselves. Their personality and the direction they seem to be sending these two characters on align with the twins.

As two of my favourite EU characters, it would also mean that I could have them in the new canon. Maybe not the same exactly, but they would be there, reimagined, with new names, in all their wondrous glory.

The Last Jedi drops for early release tomorrow evening, taking the next step into a brand new Star Wars universe. Obviously, we have tickets to one of those shows because not seeing it when it opens would be an epic fail. For me, anyhow.

I have high hopes for this film. I won’t spoil anything from the trailers for those who are holding off from anything, but it seems we are in for an intense sequel. My biggest hope for The Last Jedi is that we will see even more indications of the old EU being integrated into the new canon.

Like Anakin was meant to, I hope we will see Rey and Kylo bring true balance to the force together.

The failing of the Jedi council was that they believed balance meant tipping the scale further in the favour of good. But balance can only be achieved with equal parts. In my opinion, that would mean not necessarily having equal Jedi and Sith, but rather those that are capable of embracing both their dark and light sides to move forward in the world. For EU fans, the term for this kind of person was a grey Jedi–if they ascribed to the Jedi/Sith implications, that is.

Entering into The Last Jedi movie without Han Solo will be hard. Watching it knowing Leia will never again be captured as a living human being is going to be heartbreaking. For these reasons, and for reasons the story will reveal, I expect to be just as emotional over this next chapter as I was when I first saw A New Hope.

Regardless of what actually happens in here, I find myself most looking forward to seeing whether they’ll be able to make the new canon as engaging and thrilling as the EU.

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