Star Wars has long been one of the most iconic franchises in popular Western culture. The original trilogy has captivated millions of people from multiple generations, and the newer “prequel” trilogy has added to that already great legacy. However, many fans will recognize that there is much more to Star Wars than just the movies. The fantasy universe with its many inhabited planets, a semi-mystical energy field, and fantastic technology, has provided a great deal of story telling opportunities. However, Star Wars‘ Expanded Universe is going through some changes.
The Expanded Universe is a term that is essentially used for most Star Wars media other than the six feature films. This includes a large number of books, video games, comics, et cetera. Some of these products have met with great success over the years. It could also be argued that they helped to keep the franchise relevant in the long years between the two trilogies.
However, there are a couple of problems that have cropped up despite the general success. For one thing, it is not always easy to keep a large number of different authors on the same page. For this reason Star Wars as a franchise occasionally has had problems with its internal continuity. Sometimes the various books, movies, and games flat-out contradict each other. This is not necessarily a huge problem, considering it is a fictional world, but it could make things confusing for people looking to produce new creative works under the Star Wars banner.
More importantly, as books and such fill in more and more of the blanks in the Star Wars universe, it becomes increasingly difficult to make any new movies that are independent of the established timeline. This is the problem that Disney has run into upon its purchase of Lucasfilm. Disney is making more movies, but staying true to the established lore would be very constraining for the writers and directors. This is the primary reason why the Star Wars Expanded Universe is changing.
For one thing, the new films will not adhere to the previously established story-lines of the Expanded Universe. This likely does not come as a shock to many people, but it might be disappointing for some. It appears that future novels will be more closely coordinated Lucasfilm.
The good news for fans of the existing Expanded Universe is that those books and games will still be sold. After all, it would seem unwise to discontinue said products if people are still willing to buy them. However, it seems unclear at this point if the older story-lines will actually be continued. It might be that all future creative works must match up with the new movies.
Whether the upcoming changes to Star Wars and its Expanded Universe will be good or bad likely will depend on one’s point of view. The franchise will most likely continue to be successful. Nevertheless, there are surely those who will miss the way things were previously organized. One thing is certain Star Wars will never lose its place in movie history.
Opinion By Zach Kirkman