Disney’s decision to decanonise the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe in the run up to Star Wars: Episode VII met with a thousand voices suddenly crying out in terror and refusing to be silenced, which is understandable really because for the longest time (especially during the prequel trilogy) it was the only place where half-way decent Star Wars stories were still being told.
But here’s 5 reasons why the decision ultimately doesn’t matter in the slightest:
1. George Lucas never cared about the Star Wars Expanded Universe
The only real difference between Lucas-era Star Wars cherrypicking from the Expanded Universe and Disney-era Star Wars cherrypicking from the Expanded Universe is that Disney aren’t pretending that the Expanded Universe is important in the one hand, while killing the stuffing out of it with The Force Unleashed, the prequel trilogy (Sith rule of two, padawans, midichlorians) or The Clone Wars in the other.
Disney will continue the proud tradition of stealing the odd character or location from the amazing wealth of books and comics that George started when he embraced Coruscant from Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire and Force Speed from the West End Games roleplaying game, only they won’t lie to you about it.
2. Star Wars books, comics, TV shows now all ‘matter’
One reading of the story is that “the Star Wars Expanded Universe is being destroyed”, sure, but another reading is “from now on all Star Wars is created equal.”
No longer will the stories you enjoy be at the bottom of some dark hole, routinely shat upon by the edicts of whatever piece of tie-in tat is being pushed to the fore this week. The whole Lucasfilm canon system was effectively set up to ghettoise the hardcore fans at the expense of the TV show or videogame, which would then be thrown down the hole in turn.
From this point on everything will complement the overarching story. Star Wars: Rebels is linked to Star Wars: Episode VII, the books will fill in the gaps, and whatever else happens will further shade in this dynamic storytelling universe on a scale we’ve never seen before.
This is the sort of grand tapestry that’s far more faithful to the idea of the Expanded Universe than the ‘real’ Star Wars Expanded Universe was.
3. The Star Wars Expanded Universe was a means to an end
Surely you read Star Wars books and Star Wars comics because you enjoy the stories being told, not because you’re mercilessly grinding toward some sort of end point where George Lucas will hang a medal on your neck and the credits will role.
Did you read loads of good books, loads of classic comics and get hours of fun out of various videogames and animated series? Well then, JJ Abrams isn’t going to come round to your house and cut your memories out with his laser scalpel.
Meanwhile if you are mercilessly grinding toward some sort of end point, you’d probably get just as much satisfaction out of collecting buttons because your enjoyment has toss all to do with Star Wars.
4. The values of the Star Wars Expanded Universe live on
Following on from the above, if you enjoyed Star Wars books of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then what you enjoyed were the stories being told by master storytellers, not action figure-like combinations of characters and situations (and if you did, then you’ll be happy anyway).
Already the first wave of new Star Wars novels are coming from veteran Expanded Universe authors and The Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni has full showrunner/creator credit on Star Wars: Rebels.
These new stories may not be neatly following on from where you last saw their creators, but the DNA of the tales – the balance of action, adventure, mystery and drama, the screen-perfect characterisation, and the implicit understanding of just what it is that makes Star Wars special will continue.
5. Star Wars isn’t real
Obviously. Star Wars is a film series that grew into a multimedia empire, the produce of myriad creators and decisions and agendas – many totally cynical – whatever meaning it has is meaning that you the fan choose to put onto it.
Doctor Who fandom has some pretty harsh lessons here; Doctor Who canon is simply whatever is on the screen at any one time. A product of 50 years of contradictory books, audios, showrunners and screenwriters, the onus falls upon the fan to provide their own significance, because taking everything at face value is to court frustration.
This is always the way it was and the idea of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was a bit of marketing sleight of hand to hold the whole thing together like a fleet of wobbly pontoons.
Nobody can take Dash Rendar, Jacen Solo, Nomi Sunrider or Kyle Katarn away from you if you don’t want them too.
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.