Star Wars Expanded Universe

Star Wars Expanded Universe
The Star Wars logo, as seen in all films.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe encompasses all of the officially licensed, fictional background of the Star Wars universe, outside of the six feature films produced by George Lucas. The expanded universe includes books, comic books, video games, spin-off films like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, television series, toys, and other media. This material expands and continues the stories told in the films and, excepting where it contradicts the films, is generally considered canonical. However, George Lucas has viewed it as a separate canon from his movie series.

Contents

History

Development

The early development of the Expanded Universe was sporadic and unrefined, particularly because there was so little official material for the creators to build on. For example, the "Expanded Universe" is generally considered to have begun with Alan Dean Foster's February 1978 Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye (although technically it began with Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978). This novel drew inspiration primarily from an early draft of the Star Wars script and was conceptualized as a possible filmed sequel. Furthermore, while George Lucas was given sole writing credit for the original Star Wars novelization, Alan Dean Foster actually ghost-wrote it, contributing heavily to the Universe in the process. While he worked on the novelization, he was given a copy of the working script and a tour of the production.

Much of the early EU material from the early 1980s contained analogies to the real world, rather than embracing the holistic fiction of the Star Wars films. Much of this material now seems rather detached from the rest of the EU.

A turning point was reached when West End Games began publishing the Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. In order for players of the roleplaying game to create new adventures, West End Games needed to provide supplemental material describing the Star Wars universe in previously unknown detail. For example, the Aurebesh alphabet was originally a random piece of set dressing in Return of the Jedi. Stephen Crane copied those symbols and turned them into a complete and coherent alphabet (which would later be used in the feature films). Developing details like this in a consistent fashion turned West End Games' Star Wars products into a de facto reference library for the Star Wars universe, to the point where Lucasfilm actually sent copies of the game supplements to other EU developers to use as source material.

Shortly thereafter, in the early 1990s, Bantam published Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy. Widely publicized as the "sequels which were never made", Zahn's novels reignited Star Wars fandom and sparked a revolution in Star Wars literature. Around this same time, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy, including the very popular Dark Empire stories.

All this development began to feed back on itself: West End Games was producing roleplaying supplements detailing the material from Dark Horse's comics and Zahn's novels. Novelists and comic creators were using West End Games' supplements as reference material. Sequels to the novels were being published as comics and vice versa. The scope of the Expanded Universe grew at a prodigious rate.

To date, the bulk of the Expanded Universe has detailed the Star Wars universe after the end of Return of the Jedi, as numerous topics, including the rise of the Galactic Empire, the personal histories of Anakin Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine, and the Clone Wars had been declared off-limits by George Lucas prior to the development of the prequel trilogy.

It was decided in the late 1990s that using the Empire as the villains had become repetitive and monotonous. Hence a new threat, the Yuuzhan Vong, was introduced in The New Jedi Order, more specifically, in the first book of the series, Vector Prime.

The Expanded Universe and the prequels

Prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm specifically prohibited development of the time period prior to A New Hope in the Expanded Universe (with the exception of the Tales of the Jedi series which took place thousands of years before the movies). The release of Episode I, however, created an entirely new storyline for writers to work from.

Since The Phantom Menace was set in a time of peace, it was hard to invent any kind of threat for the heroes to fight against. Thus most material that built on The Phantom Menace was either set before or during the film, rather than after.

Attack of the Clones, on the other hand, introduced another fresh conflict - one which fans had wanted to see for over twenty years. Aside from being explored in comics and novels, the Clone Wars would be given their own animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars, which would serve to lead up to the release of Revenge of the Sith. In this series, many battles throughout the galaxy are shown, with the Force shown to seemingly its full extent in fantastic fights, such as Mace Windu single-handedly destroying a whole droid army, without even using a lightsaber. The first (2004) season of the series concludes by introducing the newest villain, General Grievous, an important character in Episode III. Grievous was also a main player on episodes 21-25, released in 2005 and leading directly to Episode III. Following the release of Episode III, events between the two trilogies are now being elaborated, like the Great Jedi Purge.

In addition to adding new possibilities, the prequel trilogy contradicted a number of statements involving the Clone Wars in existing novels. In Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, for example, the dates given for the war were inaccurate. This was since retconned by explaining that the dates were given using the Noghri calendar. Also, the character Admiral Pellaeon makes a specific statement about fighting clones in the Fleet (presumably under the Republic) and that the early clones were "unstable, sometimes spectacularly so." This completely contradicts the prequels, but was later addressed in Karen Travis's Republic Commando books by the addition of the Nulls. And again, in book three, True Colors, Pellaeon makes his first chronologically appropriate appearance as a fresh Republic officer. As well, with all six films officially released, more and more ties between the prequel and original trilogy eras are being made. Rogue Planet's introduction of Zonama Sekot, for example, was both an important tie-in to Episode II and part of the resolution for the New Jedi Order series. And Outbound Flight linked The Phantom Menace with several Zahn novels (the Thrawn trilogy, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, and Survivor's Quest).

Story eras

Unlike the films which are set no more than 36 years apart from one another, the expanded universe takes place over thousands of years in the Star Wars universe. The earliest work involving the expanded universe chronologically is the Tales of the Jedi comic series, which is set five millennia before the films. The most recent is the Legacy comic series, which is set about one-hundred and thirty years after Return of the Jedi. The timeline below uses the in-universe BBY dating system, based on the years before and after the Battle of Yavin featured in A New Hope.

  • The Old Republic (25,000 - 1,000 BBY)

In this era (set thousands of years before the films), the Jedi are large-numbered, and serve as guardians of peace and justice. The Tales of the Jedi comics series takes place in this era, chronicling the immense wars fought by the Jedi of old, and the ancient Sith. The Knights of the Old Republic series takes place during this time, as well as the Darth Bane series. The Sith Era takes place during this time.

  • The Rise of the Empire (1,000 - 0 BBY)

Set in the time around the prequel trilogy this era takes place after the seemingly final defeat of the Sith. In the waning years of the Republic, the Senate was rife with corruption and scandal, and saddled with a bureaucracy so immense that effective governing was nearly impossible. The Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, secretly orchestrated his rise to Supreme Chancellor under the guise of Senator Palpatine and personally engineered the Clone Wars. He promised to reunite the galaxy under a New Order, and destroyed the majority of the Jedi.

  • The Rebellion (0 BBY - 5 ABY)

With the Old Republic gone, an outcry of resistance begins to spread across the galaxy in protest to the new Empire's tyranny. Cells of Rebellion fight back, and the Galactic Civil War begins. This era begins with the Rebel victory that secured the Death Star plans, and ends after the death of the Emperor high over the forest moon of Endor. The Rebellion starts to reform itself into a body of government, first as the Alliance to Restore the Republic, and later the New Republic. The original trilogy takes place during this era.

  • The New Republic (5 ABY - 25 ABY)

Having defeated the Empire at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance must now transform itself from a militant resistance force into a functioning galactic government. As Imperial territory is reclaimed, the New Republic suffers growing pains, having to fend off insurrections, Imperial loyalists, and wayward warlords. Also, Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi, begins to rebuild the Jedi Order and train new apprentices.

  • The New Jedi Order (25 - 40 ABY)

With the Jedi Knights now over one hundred strong the New Republic has signed a peace treaty with the remains of the Empire. The galaxy is finally enjoying a peaceful respite from decades of war. It's in this era that a horrible alien menace invades the Republic from beyond known space. The Yuuzhan Vong lay waste to entire worlds in their scourge, as depicted in the novels of The New Jedi Order. The Dark Nest trilogy falls at the end of this era. The mysterious Killik encroach upon Chiss-controlled space, inciting a three-way war between the Chiss, the Killik Hive, and the Galactic Alliance, with Jedi falling in on all sides.

  • Legacy (40 - unknown date ABY)

Having reached peace with the Yuuzhan Vong, the newly formed Galactic Federation of Free Alliances (commonly referred to as Galactic Alliance or GA) struggles to keep itself working as a single government. But many threats from inside are joined by a danger that comes from the remains of the Dark Side, that threaten to give rise to a new Sith Lord more powerful than Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine. The new Jedi Order created by Luke Skywalker faces a new era as the heirs of the Skywalker legacy grow up. Jacen Solo has partnered with a nemesis from Luke Skywalker's past, Lumiya, who has promised him only if he becomes the next Sith Lord will he be able to bring peace to the galaxy. The Legacy of the Force novels are set at this time. Following the culmination of the Legacy of the Force novels, a series titled Fate of the Jedi begins, involving Luke as he tries to correct the blemish left on the Jedi Order by Jacen Solo.

Much later in this era, as suggested by the title, is the Legacy comic series. Set one-hundred thirty years after the films, these comics follow the story of Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke Skywalker who has to confront a resurrected Galactic Empire under the control of a new Sith Order.

Works

Film and television

  • The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) was a two-hour television special portraying Chewbacca's return to his home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day with his family. Along with the stars of the original 1977 movie, such TV and music stars as Beatrice Arthur, Art Carney, and Jefferson Starship appeared in plot-related skits and musical numbers. The content is considered canonical, but the special is reviled by some fans and virtually disowned by George Lucas, though other fans enjoy its nostalgic sweetness and naively misguided creativity; an online petition for its video release has gotten press in New York Newsday and other media outlets. The Holiday Special features the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett, in an 11-minute animated sequence, and the first reference to Kashyyyk. The general look of the Kashyyyk sets from the Holiday Special formed the basis for the settings used in Revenge of the Sith (2005).
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) was the first of two films featuring the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. In Caravan of Courage, the Ewoks help two children rescue their parents from a giant known as Gorax. This and the next film are notable for having their stories written by Lucas himself; one of his few contributions to non-theatrical Star Wars productions, other than his obvious sanctioning of them.
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985). In this second Ewok film, Wicket, Cindel, and the Ewoks ally with a hermit named Noa to defeat Marauders who attacked their village.
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985–1986) was an animated series following the adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It featured Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3PO.
  • Star Wars: Ewoks (1985–1987) was an animated series featuring the adventures of the Ewoks prior to Return of the Jedi and the Ewok movies (despite being released after).
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) was a theatrical film released to promote and kick off a new animated television series based on the Clone Wars era, and featured the voice talent of several cast members from the live-action films.
  • An untitled live-action series set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope has been discussed but is currently on hold. It is thought to focus on minor characters from the Star Wars galaxy, with the possibility of cameo appearances by some of the main characters.
  • Lucas has mentioned a second Star Wars animated series that is currently in development, potentially titled Squishies.[1] It will be the fifth animated series in the franchise overall.[2][3] On April 5, 2010 it was announced that a new comedy series would be produced by Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich.[4]

Radio and audio drama

A radio adaptation of A New Hope was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. The adaptation was written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was followed by adaptations of the next two films in the original trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The radio adaptations were notable for including background material probably created by Lucas but not used for the films. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian, respectively; John Williams composed an original score; and Ben Burtt, who designed the sound for all of the Star Wars movies, did the same for the radio adaptations.

In 1983, Buena Vista Records released entirely original Star Wars audio drama, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell. Like the radio adaptations of the films, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell was written by Brian Daley.

For more than a decade, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell was the only Star Wars drama not adapted from a feature film. Then, between 1995 and 1998 more than a half dozen audio dramas were released as audio tapes and CD's. These audio dramas were adapted from Dark Horse comic books, and include: Tales of the Jedi (1995), Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina (1995), Dark Empire (1996), Dark Empire II (1996), Empire's End (1997), Dark Forces (1998), and Crimson Empire (1998).

Adaptations of the prequel films have not been made at this point.

Books

Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first movie, with the 1976 novelization of "A New Hope" (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George Lucas). However, Foster's 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was the first Expanded Universe work to be released. In addition to filling in the time between the movies, this additional content greatly expanded the Star Wars timeline before and after the film series.

Star Wars fiction flourished during the time of the original series (1977–1983), but slowed to a trickle afterwards. In 1991, however, Timothy Zahn's celebrated Thrawn trilogy debuted, sparking a new interest in the Star Wars universe. Since then, several hundred tie-in novels have been published by Bantam and Del Rey. The books have covered most key timeframes in the Star Wars universe, but most works have focused on the time period following Return of the Jedi and on the events of the Clone Wars. Select books have helped fill in the gaps between the original trilogy movies (e.g., Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Death Star, Tales series).

Other notable books in the series include the X-wing series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston, the Jedi Academy trilogy and Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J Anderson, the Republic and Imperial Commando series by Karen Traviss, and the multi-author New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi Series.

Comic books and strips

Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz.

Serialized Star Wars comic strips, featuring original material written by Roy Thomas, also appeared in Marvel's late-'70s youth-oriented magazine Pizzazz. As the earliest of these strips were published before original material began to appear in Marvel's Star Wars comics (which began by directly adapting the 1977 film) and before publication of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, these strips hold the distinction of being the first Star Wars material in print that was not adapted from one of the films.[5]

In the 1980s, as part of its Star Comics line aimed at young children, Marvel also published the short-lived series Ewoks and Droids, based on the two Saturday morning cartoons of the same name.

Star Wars was also a daily newspaper comic strip from 1979 to 1984. Among the creators were Goodwin, Williamson, and Russ Manning. Dark Horse has also published the newspaper comic strip in a collection entitled Classic Star Wars.

In the late 1980s, Marvel announced it would publish a new Star Wars comic by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. However, Dark Horse Comics published this story - titled "Dark Empire" -instead, when Marvel's license on the Star Wars property lapsed. Dark Horse has gone on to publish a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe. These include: Star Wars Republic, Star Wars Empire, Star Wars Tales and Star Wars Tales of the Jedi. Dark Horse has also published the Marvel series in a collection entitled Star Wars: A Long Time Ago. In addition, the company has reprinted several Japanese manga-interpretations of the films, including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by Yoshiki Kudo and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Shin-ichi Hiromoto.

Computer and video games

Since 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name, beginning with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Other early titles include the Star Wars Nintendo Entertainment System game (published by JVC) and three other titles for the Atari 2600.

Atari produced arcade games based on the original trilogy, beginning with Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which were both 'flight sim' style games that utilized vector graphics. The third, Return of the Jedi, used more traditional raster graphics.

Star Wars has also opened the way to a myriad of Space-flight simulations that take the space wars of the saga in a more serious manner, teaching the player to fly various Star Wars universe starfighters along the lines of more traditional Modern Aircraft flight simulators. The first among these were X-Wing and its two expansions, B-Wing and Imperial Pursuit, dealing with the Rebellion's side of the war, taking place in the period right before, and up to, the destruction of the first Death Star. The second was TIE Fighter, dealing with the Empire's starfighters at the time prior to Episode VI. Both games were released for DOS and Macintosh. TIE Fighter also had an expansion disk, "Defender of the Empire". In addition, both the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter games saw two collector's edition releases (one for DOS and another for Windows 9x) which featured enhanced graphics quality and added missions. Newer simulators are also available, with X-Wing Alliance in the lead.

The first Star Wars first person shooter, Dark Forces, was introduced by LucasArts in February 1995. Telling the story of Kyle Katarn, Imperial soldier gone mercenary, the game featured a little over a dozen levels where the player explored various original and familiar settings. Featuring an original and interactive soundtrack by renowned game composer Clint Bajakian using the iMUSE sound system, along with state-of-the-art graphics, the game succeeded in capturing many gamers' imaginations. The 1997 sequel, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, was notable for having a few cut scenes which were made up of live-action footage of certain Expanded Universe characters, such as Kyle Katarn.

Rogue Squadron was a cross-platform title on Nintendo 64 and PC which allowed the player to experience a more arcade-action version of the same gameplay in X-Wing and TIE Fighter. The game consisted of piloting several different Star Wars vehicles through missions on planet surfaces and in space. Rogue Squadron saw two sequels, both on the Nintendo GameCube system.

Star Wars: Rebellion allowed players to compete in the Star Wars universe on a larger scale, focusing more on the strategic aspect of handling (or defeating) a rebellion, with resource management and agent-allocation, as well as large-scale conflicts between entire fleets of starships.

Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords by Obsidian Entertainment are recent additions to the EU, and take place in the Old Republic era, right after the Mandalorian Wars.

Other games are: Battlefront, Battlefront II, Battlefront Renegade Squadron, star wars battlefront elite squadron]], Galactic Battlegrounds, Republic Commando, Episode III: The video game, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Star Wars II, Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, Star Wars Galaxies, and Empire at War. Also released were Rebel Assault and Rebel Assault II which are considered by many to be more interactive movie than actual video game.

On September 16, 2008, LucasArts released Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which bridges the events from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to Episode IV: A New Hope. The game centers on Darth Vader's secret apprentice who goes out to destroy the last of the Jedi.

In the Fall of 2008, it was announced that The Old Republic (a Massively Multiplayer Online Game) was being developed by BioWare for the PC, it is intended to be a sequel to the very successful Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) games, also produced by BioWare. Fans of the series were told to expect The Old Republic to be KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9...alluding to the massive content the game is supposed to be planned to launch with.

Board and roleplaying games

In a 1996 game from Hasbro, entitled Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game, which is set during the era of the original trilogy, new live-action scenes were shot of Darth Vader on the Death Star around the events of Return of the Jedi. The footage was made available on a special VHS tape, included in the box of the game. When playing the board game, the players could put in the tape, which would play while they were in a game. David Prowse reprised his role as Vader, and James Earl Jones returned as the voice of Vader. Some of the original crew for A New Hope came back to shoot these scenes. A Ravensburger in Germany in 2002.

Several editions of the Star Wars role playing games have been published. The 1st edition (a d6 version) was published by West End Games in 1987. The 2nd edition was published by West End Games in 1992. The 2.5 edition was published by West End Games in 1996. In late 2000, Wizards of the Coast released the 3rd edition (a d20 version). In 2002, Wizards of the Coast released the 3.5 edition. Bill Slavicsek worked on all the editions. He included a conversion table (from the previous d6 versions to the new d20 version) at the end of the 3rd edition that helped Star Wars RPG players adapt to the new d20 version.

On June 5, 2007, Wizards introduced a third d20 version of the game, dubbed the Saga edition. This edition was updated to include setting information from all six movies in the main series, as well as the events portrayed in the New Jedi Order novels. In addition to setting updates, the book also included a greatly revised version of the d20 system, adapted to work better with the fast pace and heroic feel of the Star Wars movies.

In 2005, Hasbro developed and released a DVD TV Game based on Star Wars and utilizing the Trivial Pursuit game-play format.

Multimedia projects

  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1996) was an ambitious multimedia project created by Lucasfilm. Dubbed "a film without a film", Shadows of the Empire told the story of the events between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and introduced a new villain named Prince Xizor. Utilizing all previous types of media that have been used to present the Expanded Universe, the project included a novel written by Steve Perry, multiple comic book series, a soundtrack, a video game, concept art, action figures, and the like.
  • The Clone Wars (2003–2005). Using methods similar to the Shadows of the Empire project, Lucasfilm directed a widespread project to tell the stories of the Clone Wars. This project was made up of films, novels, video games, comics, action figures, and even its own animated series (described above).
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008). Described as "the next chapter in the saga",[6] The Force Unleashed follows the pattern set by the Shadows of the Empire and the Clone Wars projects, consisting of several elements commonly associated with the marketing of a feature film, including a video-game, tie-in novel, action figures and a comic series, and along with the upcoming television series, will bridge the gap between Episode III and Episode IV.

Mockumentaries

  • Return of the Ewok (1982) was a 24-minute fictional mockumentary-style movie, focusing on Warwick Davis' decision to become an actor and act as Wicket in Return of the Jedi.
  • R2-D2: Beneath the Dome (2002) was a 20-minute mockumentary-style movie, focusing on the "true" story of R2-D2's life. It was made as a fun side-project by some of the crew of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but was later deemed suitable for television and for its own DVD.
  • "LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace"

Star Tours

In 1987, Lucasfilm and Disney, utilizing the power of ILM, teamed up to produce Star Tours, an amusement park simulator ride through the Star Wars galaxy. It was to be placed in the Tomorrowland section of the park, in the location of the dark ride Adventure Thru Inner Space. The ride is advertised as an opportunity to take a tour to the forest moon of Endor via the Starship 3000. The ship is controlled by a robot named Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens of Pee Wee Herman fame), who happens to be new at giving the tours, and your riding experience happens to be his first time at the controls. Along the way, the rider encounters many mishaps, including run-ins with Imperial Star Destroyers, and near collisions with asteroid fields, until their ship finally makes it safely back into the port. A Star Tours II has been announced by George Lucas, to be based on prequel situations, although exactly when it will begin production or its opening date are as of yet to be confirmed. A limited-run line of action figures is also available exclusively in the Star Tours gift shop, based on droid characters from the ride and the line leading into it.

The ride is currently being renovated under the title Star Tours II, and will now feature elements of both the original and the prequel trilogy.

Toys

In addition, many other toys have been made. The Star Wars toy phenomenon began in 1978 with the original action figures, toy lightsabers and blasters, twelve-inch figures, toy vehicles, and much more products. These toys are known as the vintage Star Wars toys. Today many of these "vintage" figures are quite rare and hard to find. Many are also worth a lot of money. Recently, a toy line called Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Collection, brought back elements of the original vintage toy line, such as vintage packaging. With the coming of Star Wars: Episode I, Lego began creating little (and quite large) buildable Star Wars characters and scenes. Recently, the Lego creators have invented light-up lightsabers for their figures. Lego has even licensed these toys in the LEGO Star Wars video game series (mentioned above).

Many types of toys have been made. Darth Vader helmets and voice changers now inhabit the shelves, usually right next to the Ultimate Lightsaber Kit, which contains parts to design and assemble your own functional lightsaber toy. The term "Expanded Universe" was first used with Kenner's assortments of action figures based on the various Star Wars novels, comic books, and video games. Previous toys based on novels were sold by Galoob as "Epic Collections."

In the late 1990s, Star Wars toys reached deep into the Halloween and specialty markets where Officially Licensed Star Wars helmets, costumes and collectibles could be purchased easily from online retailers on the internet and from retail chains. Star Wars fans of all ages could easily purchase like Star Wars costumes for Halloween and plays from online specialty stores. From lightsabers and blasters to robes and helmets, many of today's costumes and accessories are licensed through Rubies Costume Company of New York and sold through independent and retail chain stores. Likewise, companies such as Hasbro have developed and sold toy weapons, action figures and collectibles from the Star Wars series.

With the development of the newest Star Wars CGI movie and popular TV series, The Clone Wars, even more toys have been developed by introducing new characters and adventures to a younger generation outside of the original Star Wars series.

Continuity and canonicity

The Expanded Universe is intended to be a continuation, and an expansion, on the six Star Wars theatrical films produced by George Lucas from 1977–2005. All EU material, combined with that presented in the films is meant to function as a complete story. However, in order to allow this story to function as a whole, it must be kept under in an order of continuity. Lucasfilm holds this of such high importance that a teams' sole job at Lucasfilm is maintaining continuity between Lucas's films, and the EU, which is written by many other authors and artists, many times out of order, and with many different ideas. Lucas, however, is free to go in any direction he wishes in his films to tell the story he intends. He acknowledges and supports the works of the EU but tells the stories he wants to tell in the six films. When asked in an interview his general opinion on the EU, he replied:

I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent. The way I do it now is they have a Star Wars Encyclopedia. So if I come up with a name or something else, I look it up and see if it has already been used. When I said [other people] could make their own Star Wars stories, we decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one. They try to make their universe as consistent with mine as possible, but obviously they get enthusiastic and want to go off in other directions. - George Lucas, from an interview in Starlog #337

George Lucas has also stated that as far as he was concerned the rule of the Sith ended with the death of Palpatine and freedom and democracy were restored to the galaxy with the Jedi's return, as he symbolized this by including the Senate building and the Jedi temple during the celebratory scenes at the end of Return Of The Jedi. He has stated that although he is aware of EU literature and welcomes its creativity, he has no part in the resurrection of Palpatine and the Yuuzhan Vong invasions (though this would contradict comments by Tom Veitch that it was Lucas himself who suggested they resurrect Palpatine instead of using the original idea of a Vader impostor in the Dark Empire storyline).

George Lucas retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe. For example, the "death" of central characters and similar changes in the status quo must first pass his screening before authors are given the go-ahead. In addition, Lucasfilm Licensing devotes considerable effort to ensure continuity between the works of various authors across multiple companies. Nothing in the Expanded Universe is supposed to contradict the films or any other part of the Expanded Universe. Upon occasion, Lucas's new films, reedited Original Trilogy films, or statements have contradicted existing EU material, and several retcons have been used to fix these inconsistencies.

Some purists reject the Expanded Universe as apocrypha, believing that only the events in the film series are part of the "real" Star Wars universe. This line of thought is supported to the extent that some Expanded Universe material released before Lucas's prequel films drew erroneous conclusions that Lucas later corrected. However, elements of the Expanded Universe have been adopted by Lucas for use in the films. For example, the name of planet Coruscant first appeared in Timothy Zahn's novel Heir to the Empire before being used later in the prequel trilogy (although its pronunciation changed) - though the planet itself, under a different name, had existed in a previous version of the script to Return of the Jedi. Also, the Twi'lek Jedi Aayla Secura originally appeared in the ongoing Dark Horse Comics series Republic - apparently Lucas saw the cover which featured her and liked the look of her character so much that he included her in the Jedi battle at the end of Attack of the Clones, played by Lucasfilm employee Amy Allen, and her demise is later shown in the Order 66 Jedi Purge scenes of Revenge of the Sith. These examples sometimes end up confusing the issue, as they have blurred the lines between the Expanded Universe and "his world".

There are also minor disputes about what is, and what is not, part of the Expanded Universe. For example, the two Star Wars spin-off films: Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor were written by George Lucas and are films, but they are not one of the six main films in the series, so they are usually considered to be a part of the Expanded Universe.

Official levels of canon

The Holocron is an internal database maintained by Lucas Licensing for the express purpose of trying to maintain continuity within all licensed products. The Holocron was originally sorted into four levels of canon, reflecting LFL's canon and continuity policies: G, C, S, and N. a fifth level, T, was recently instituted and comprises the CGI series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the currently untitled live action Star Wars television series which has yet to begin any form of production. See the article on Star Wars canon for greater detail.

  • G (George Lucas) canon is absolute canon. This category includes the final releases of the six films, the novelizations of the films, the radio dramas based on the films, the film scripts, and any material found in any other source (published or not) that comes directly from George Lucas himself. G canon outranks all other forms of canon.
  • T (Television) canon, which currently comprises Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the as yet unaired live action Star Wars TV series. This level of canon is considered to take precedence over C canon (see below), possibly due to the fact that George Lucas is directly involved with these shows as executive producer, and in the case of Clone Wars is also on the writing team.
  • C (continuity) canon refers to the main body of EU work, and is the next most authoritative level of canon. All material published under the Star Wars label that doesn't fall into either G, T, S, or N canon is C canon and is considered authoritative as long as it isn't contradicted by G canon.
  • S (secondary) canon refers to older, less accurate, or less coherent EU works, which would not ordinarily fit in the main continuity of G and C canon. For example, this includes the popular online roleplaying game Star Wars Galaxies, and certain elements of a few N-canon stories.
  • N continuity material is also known as "non-canon" or "non-continuity" material. What-if stories (such as those published under the Infinities label) and anything else that cannot at all fit into continuity is placed into this category. "N-continuity" is not considered canon.

Lucas's use of the Expanded Universe

C-canon elements from licensed creators have been known to appear in Lucas' films. Most of these are brief, cameo appearances, almost taking the form of Easter eggs (which may have been added by animators or others under Lucas, rather than specifically dictated), but others are more substantial:

  • Boba Fett, originally introduced as a villain in The Star Wars Holiday Special, was incorporated into The Empire Strikes Back, and quickly became one of the most popular Star Wars characters. He went on to appear in Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones, ultimately we witness the first on screen camera time of the adult Boba Fett in Star Wars: A New Hope, Special Edition in the scene where Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo interact in Dock Bay 94 on Tatooine.
  • The name "Coruscant" was originally used by Timothy Zahn in the Thrawn trilogy of novels. Lucas was going to include the capital world of Had Abbadon in Return of the Jedi, but adopted Zahn's name for Imperial Center when presenting the planet in the Special Edition and prequel movies.
  • Swoop bikes, originally introduced in the Brian Daley novel Han Solo's Revenge and seen in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, were featured in a scene added to the Special Edition of A New Hope. In the sequence introducing Mos Eisley, a swoop bike scares a ronto. Anakin Skywalker also pilots one of these type swoops during his search for his mother in Attack of the Clones.
  • Quinlan Vos. Vos briefly appeared as a background extra on Tatooine, in The Phantom Menace at a Mos Espa café. His character and story was later elaborated upon in the EU. A cameo appearance of this character was witnessed in Revenge of the Sith when you see a tank open fire on him and his "supposed" demise. His name (as "Master Vos") was also mentioned in the film, however, by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Jedi briefing room in the Jedi Temple.
  • Aayla Secura. Appeared as a significant, albeit minor, character in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. She is the second victim of Order 66, as seen in Revenge of the Sith
  • The Outrider and with it, the YT-2400 freighters in general. It has a minor cameo, seen from a distance, lifting off from Mos Eisley, in the special scenes added to A New Hope for the special edition.
  • Action VI Transports, initially appeared as the Wild Karrde in Heir to the Empire, they also arrive at the Theed Spaceport in Attack of the Clones.
  • Prince Xizor. Cameo appearance in The Phantom Menace on a Coruscant landing pad.[citation needed]Also, a Micro Machines model of the Shadows of the Empire villain was used to populate the spectator stands at the Mos Espa Arena in The Phantom Menace.
  • The Force Speed ability, first created for the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Used in The Phantom Menace by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to evade droidekas.
  • The planet Tund, first mentioned in the Adventures of Lando Calrissian series of books, was identified as the planet Ben Quadinaros was from in The Phantom Menace.
  • The planet Rishi, introduced in Dark Force Rising, was given a mention via the Rishi Maze in Attack of the Clones.
  • Nee Alavar, a background character in Revenge of the Sith, was identified as a Lorrdian. The Lorrdian people first appeared in the novel Han Solo's Revenge.
  • The double bladed lightsaber (which Darth Maul uses in The Phantom Menace) was first used by Sith Lord Exar Kun in the Tales of the Jedi comic book series.
  • The name of the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk first appeared in the EU, although Lucas himself invented the species and the planet.
  • Though originally developed for the Special Edition of A New Hope, the Sentinel-class landing craft (also known as the "Imperial landing craft") made its first appearance in Shadows of the Empire. This is the craft seen lifting off in A New Hope when the stormtroopers are roaming Tatooine on the Dewbacks.
  • In the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (released in 1978), C-3PO mentions that Darth Vader knows "all the proper code words and commands" to shut him down. This would make sense, given the revelation in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (released in 1999) that Vader himself built 3PO when he was a little boy. Whether Lucas was aware of this when making The Phantom Menace is unknown.

Lucas has often worked very closely with EU creators:

  • In addition to being creator and executive producer, Lucas became part of the story writing team for the 3D CGI animated series which takes place, at least in part, in the same continutiy as Tartakovsky's Clone Wars series——though which parts of the original animated series take place during the course of the CGI series at what time period during the current series run is difficult to place at best—— and as such a great deal of what happens in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series can be considered at least partially G canon, while other parts, such as character designs and names not directly created by or without direct influence from him in their creation which have been imported from other materials are C canon, though their inclusion in this series leaves the exact level of canonicity they are considered to have in question. Certain characters from pre-existing C canon material, such as Quinlan Vos may now be considered part of the G canon due to Lucas' approval of them and inclusion in films or other materials he has created and released or been a part of, such as the CGI series, in which Vos appeared during the show's third season and in Phantom Menace, as noted above. Lucas did not create Vos, for example, however his inclusion into Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars seems to indicate he is now part of G canon, rather than C canon, but this cannot be confirmed without direct word from George Lucas on the matter. Other characters and concepts, such as the Nightsisters may follow the same level of alteration of canonicity from secondary canon (C Canon) to absolute canon (G canon). The inclusion of a fifth level of canon (T canon) further confuses matters in this regard, as George Lucas is directly involved in the current television series which makes up the T canon concept. See the Star Wars Canon article for further reading on this matter.
  • In writing the novelization of The Phantom Menace, Lucas informed Terry Brooks of the extensive history of the Sith and Jedi before that time period, so he could include it in his book. For example, the character of Darth Bane is an original creation of Lucas', and although he did not include information on the character in his films, he informed Terry Brooks of the character to incorporate into the novelization of The Phantom Menace. Lucas also gave Brooks other extensive bits of info of what went on during The Phantom Menace.
  • Lucas wrote the prologue for Matthew Stover's novel Shatterpoint.
  • During the production of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, Lucas instructed those involved to base the Prince Xizor character on the Dashade species from The Star Wars Holiday Special.[7]

On the other hand, Lucas has been known to ignore C-canon material when creating his films, even when this material is well-established and central to the EU continuity. This has led some to believe that the C-canon material is not, in fact, closely aligned with Lucas' vision. Examples of these inconsistencies include:

  • While in the EU the Republic has been extant for roughly 25,000 years, based on statements made by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, in Attack of the Clones, Palpatine says that the Republic has stood for a thousand years. Taken at face value, this would not only delete the majority of the EU's history, but contradict another piece of G-canon as well. Authors invented the Ruusan Reformation, in which the Republic is reorganized following the defeat of the Sith, occurring a thousand years before the movies, in order to explain, or "retcon," this statement.
  • The deaths of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker in the original trilogy made it appear that dead Jedi typically disappeared and reappeared as Force ghosts. Revenge of the Sith revealed that this is in fact a very rare ability only a few Jedi have ever mastered. It is unknown how many Jedi have actually mastered it, but Qui-Gonn appears to have been the first of the most recently known Jedi to do so, and Revenge of the Sith seems to hint that he in turn trained Yoda and Obi-Wan in the way to perform it. No explanation is given for how Anakin managed to learn it due to the utter lack of contact with Obi-Wan for at least eighteen years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, when Obi-Wan confronted Vader on the Death Star, and had no contact with Yoda after he went into self-imposed exile on Dagobah.
  • Boba Fett's origins originally named him as one "Jaster Mereel", a Journeyman Protector exiled from Concord Dawn. It was later revealed that Jaster Mereel was merely an alias Fett was using when he was exiled. The real Jaster, whose name Boba used as an alias, was retconned into a separate character.
  • The Clone Wars as described in Zahn's Thrawn trilogy were, at least in part, a struggle between the Old Republic and an army of insane clones grown and controlled by a number of "clonemasters." Attack of the Clones on the other hand, revealed that the Clone Wars were fought between the Old Republic (using clones) and a (single) Separatist movement (using droids). When writing the prequel trilogy, Lucas changed the dates he had originally given Zahn for the Clone Wars, so Zahn's estimate was at least a decade off. This inconsistency was easily retconed however, since it is the Noghri who give the former date, and this species was using their own unique dating system.

See also

Star Wars lists

Other Star Wars articles

References

External links


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