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Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Sun Crusher, the moral descent of Jacen Solo, the spacefaring Dirty Dozen known as Wraith Squadron, the clones of Emperor Palpatine, Mara Jade: All these and more will almost certainly not appear in the upcoming Star Wars sequel trilogy, or the spinoff series Star Wars Rebels, or indeed any future iteration of Star Wars-related content. As revealed in what is quite possibly the nerdiest press release in the history of publicity, Lucasfilm is inaugurating a new era in the galaxy far, far away.
“The company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development,” the press release explains. “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.”
The Expanded Universe encompasses the huge array of Star Wars media that flourished in the decades post-Return of the Jedi. The main vehicle for the galaxy’s expansion was the massive array of Star Wars literature — Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire being the best-known, although the prize for “actual best” is IMHO split between A.C. Crispin’s The Hutt Gambit and Michael A. Stackpole’s I, Jedi (Corran Horn 4evah.) It also includes comic books (farewell, Gaar Suppoon Hit), videogames (so long, Dark Forces), and everything else that wasn’t explicitly produced under the auspices of George Lucas.
However! The Expanded Universe will still exist under a new “Legends” banner, which I guess could mean that, within the continuity of the actual canon, the Expanded Universe stories were actually just “legends” about Luke Skywalker and Co., conceived by people in the Star Wars galaxy many centuries later — which is the kind of completely insane explanation that all conversations about fictional continuity eventually dissolve into. The studio posted a nice clip to honor the Expanded Universe, including a Timothy Zahn sighting!
However, it’s worth pointing out that Lucasfilm isn’t completely ignoring the various characters, vehicles, planets, and concepts established in the Expanded Universe. “Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe,” the studio explains. “The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.” So it’s entirely possible that the new canon will utilize the old canon the same way that the Avengers movies utilize Marvel comic books — sometimes as direct inspiration, sometimes as purposeful misdirection (Hello, Mandarin!)
So, to sum up this news: You can probably stop wondering who is going to play Jacen and Jaina Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII, but they still might have characters who kind of vaguely resemble Jacen and Jaina Solo, but they probably won’t do the same things Jacen and Jaina did, unless they do. Take it away, Bill Murray!