Within the last few days, various media sources are confirming something that might be disheartening to many fans (including myself)
Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) content is officially non-cannon.
What does that mean? The only part of the franchise fans have gotten to enjoy that count as the official story are the six movies and the Clone Wars animated TV show that just recently ended. Most, if not all the books exploring various storylines, mythos and lore no longer have relevancy. Any comic books that thrilled readers no longer count. Now, some elements are going to be retained like the Inquisitor, the Imperial Bureau and Seinar Fleet Systems will be in Star Wars: Rebels. There’s also the possibility that the prologue storylines (aka before the films) might also be retained as official canon. However, if said prologue stories do get thrown out the window, beautiful gems like BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic will be disregarded as canon.
I get it; not everything from the EU is all good. There are some stories that do little to keep up some sort of continuity or canon (like the Jedi Knight games). Plus in the early phases of the EU a lot of writers were focused on telling stories that took place within gaps of the timeline and didn’t branch together. To keep track of all that would mean having to sit down and dissect the events to see which order they go in, which can be oftentimes confusing. By declaring most of the EU non-canon, Disney and Lucasfilm want to create cohesive story that’s easier to follow for both casual and hardened fans of the series. When referencing Star Wars most people stick to the movies because it’s the part of the story almost everyone knows. However, should they throw it all to the wayside?
According to this official blog:
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.
From a business perspective, this is a smart move. While the universe has been greatly enriched by the various stories out there for the expanded universe, not all of it is cohesive and interconnected. As discussed earlier, there are a lot separate, standalone stories that fans have gotten to enjoy that add little to the main canon (I mean, who doesn’t have a bit of zombie love?). To ensure the series being fresh, focused while being both easier to follow and maintain for both fans and the studio the president of Lucasfilms Kathleen Kennedy has created a story group (led by Leland Chee) to oversee all stories in production.
Plus, this gives JJ Abrams, Laurence Kasdan and company a lot more creative freedom to explore parts of the universe they create or are already established in cannon. With respect to the mythos established by the central pillars of the story (the films), they don’t have to worry about injecting references or events into the series to match the EU content. Furthermore, it allows Stars Wars to really get back to being relevant as a franchise much like Abrams’ work with the Star Trek reboot. The comics, books and games following either around or after the release of Episode VII will then be considered cannon since Lucasfilm has a story group keeping the reigns tight on ensuring continuity and inter connectivity between everything.
As a fan, what I’m about to say is going to seem a little bias but still rings true: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR for short) being stricken off as non-cannon is a little odd to me.
For one thing, KOTOR takes four thousand years before any of the movies and leaves plenty of creative freedom to tie it into the series. Who can deny how fun the adventure was playing as Revan in his quest to retrieve the star maps alongside Bastilla Shan and HK-47? Plus, Revan is also such a pivotal component to the Sith lore as the creator of the Code of the Sith (a twisted version of the Code of the Jedi) and as the Dark Lord.
More importantly, who doesn’t love those candid conversations with that lovable, murderous HK-47?
BioWare also worked very closely with LucasArts on keeping it as close to canon as possible while also having as much creative freedom as possible. As stated by Greg Zeshuck at the time:
Working with the Star Wars license was a great experience. We really enjoyed the feedback on our vision of the universe four thousand years prior to the [events that take place in the] movies [from the Ranch]. Our goal was to make sure that the content we created for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was reminiscent of the movies but unique enough to set it apart as a definite precursor. Overall, we were really happy with the results. We felt like we had enough freedom to truly create something wonderful.
The new trilogy of Star Wars wouldn’t have to make many references to KOTOR since it’s so far back into the past. If there were any references to be made it could be in set design, location and bibs dialogue here and there, but doesn’t play a pivotal part in shaping the story. The trilogy would still have plenty of creative breathing room to do what it wants to do while keeping a much-beloved fan favorite as part of canon.
Also, it would be pretty cool if there were some allusions to it in Star Wars: Rebels.
Not to mention, as my friend James mentioned to me, how mind-blowing would it be if Luke Skywalker was somehow related to Darth Revan? Wouldn’t that be exciting?
In all seriousness, Knights of the Old Republic is so revered by fans that it would be a crime to leave it out as not part of official canon. With all the attention to detail BioWare put into it while working with Lucasarts.
What do you think about the recent news?