Star Wars canon change risks “pissing off a lot of people”

Clone Wars star Sam Witwer on canon change fears ahead of Star Wars: Episode VII

Sam Witwer voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Was
Sam Witwer voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Was
Sam Witwer voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The embodiment of fan done good, Being Human US star Sam Witwer voiced Starkiller in The Force Unleashed videogame franchise and Darth Maul (and the sinister Son) in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, so he’s a man with a certain amount of interest in the recent decision by Lucasfilm to drop George Lucas’ canon hierarchy in favour of one unified continuity in the run up to Star Wars: Episode VII.

“I think if they can pull it off it will be worth it,” said Witwer speaking exclusively to SciFiNow, “otherwise they’re going to piss off a lot of people.

“I know there’s been a lot of outcry with The Clone Wars when something would show up and it wasn’t exactly what they’d read about, like the Mandalorians, but the funny thing about George Lucas’ Star Wars is that he really did pull as much as they could from the Expanded Universe and change stuff where necessary.

“If you go back before Star Trek: Next Generation, there was an expanded universe for Star Trek, a wealth of books floating around there, and there was only maybe a couple of movies and an old TV series, and there was this big expanded universe and when Gene Rodenberry started making Next Generation, all of that got thrown out.

“The Klingons and Romulans and everything were different from what people had read about, everything was changed. People seem to forget that, and at least with Star Wars there was a real effort.

“They used visual concepts from the Expanded Universe and characters were brought in, the Mandalorians – they’re a pacifistic people, but they used to be warlike, and they may yet be warlike again – that type of thing. These are consistencies that people take for granted and they get angry when some things change, but look at the Star Trek fans – they got nothing! We at least have some cohesion.”

Sam Witwer as Starkiller in The Force Unleashed II
Sam Witwer as Starkiller in The Force Unleashed II

While Star Wars: The Clone Wars was considered T-canon – one step down from the movies – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was on a rung below that – C-canon – with some elements, like the Dark Side ending being right at the bottom of the pack when it comes to legitimacy – N-canon, or non-canon.

Now, Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni is working on Star Wars: Rebels – DIsney’s new animated series set between the trilogies – there’s no danger of Witwer’s voice work as the horned Sith Lord being left out in the cold, but the videogame continuity is totally up for grabs.

The company’s gaming arm LucasArts closed in April 2013, with Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault junked so Disney could move onto the more cost-effective/profit-friendly business of licensing the universe out rather than developing rewarding new storytelling worlds internally.

Basically, 2008’s The Force Unleashed and its 2010 sequel could easily find themselves dropped from canon entirely, and Sam Witwer’s fan-favourite Force-wielding bad-ass Galen ‘Starkiller’ Marek along with it.

Gameplay from The Force Unleashed II
Gameplay from The Force Unleashed II

“I know Force Unleashed was sold as canon,” says Witwer. “I don’t know if George remembers this, but he helped create that story. I don’t know if he’s entirely aware because he didn’t spend a lot of time on it – he was busy working on Clone Wars – but he would come in, they would have story conferences and then he would go away for a while and come back almost year later.

“But the scenes that we did in Force Unleashed and the places that we went and the bold moves we made were in some cases sanctioned by George, but in other cases he made us do it!

“He was like, ‘Do the formation of the Rebel Alliance; what about Darth Vader’s secret accomplice?’ I don’t know how Force Unleashed is going to be treated in the future, I don’t know if Star Wars: Rebels is going to contradict it or not, but George was there, and the things we did were George mandates, so it’s an interesting thing. But like anything, stories evolve.

“For the most part, you’re hoping that it’s thematically the same, that we’re still talking about the same issues and that we still have the same heart.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is due in cinemas 18 December 2015. You can buy Star Wars: The Complete Saga for £57.99 on Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk.