There really wasn’t ever a lot of doubt, but Star Wars, and its new handler, Disney, has officially closed the door on its Expanded Universe, at least as far as the upcoming films are concerned. In an official statement, Lucasfilm confirmed that the only material the new movies will be pulling characters from are the original Star Wars films and two official TV shows – Clone Wars and the upcoming animated Disney series Star Wars Rebels.
“While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the [Expanded Universe] 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,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said. “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.”
Despite the announcement, however, the Expanded Universe will live on outside the movies. Even though the films will not draw from it, Lucasfilms is taking steps to ensure that the Expanded Universe will continue to grow.
“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” Kennedy announced. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”
For those that haven’t followed Star Wars beyond the movies, Lucasarts defines the Expanded Universe as “anything in the Star Wars universe outside the scope of movies or TV shows,” specifically, “books, comics, games, etc.” That includes stories that feature the main characters from the films, as well as events that may have happened thousands of years before. As long as it builds off of Star Wars lore and is not part of the film and TV world, it is part of the Expanded Universe.
Moving forward, Lucasfilms has created a new story group designed to coordinate all Star Wars creative development. This group will oversee the stories in the upcoming novels, games, and everything in between. That includes all of the Star Wars comics, which are reverting back to Marvel after spending several years under the oversight of Dark Horse Comics. There will even be a slight bit of crossover.
“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,” a Lucasfilms statement claims. “While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. 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.”
Current Expanded Universe properties will remain in print under the newly created “Legends” banner.
The next piece of canonical Star Wars content on the way is Star Wars Rebels, a computer animated series set between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. The series takes place roughly five years before the events of A New Hope, and follows a group of rebels fighting against the Empire. The show will debut this fall on the Disney Channel, and then air regularly on Disney XD. Star Wars Episode VII will then hit theaters on December 18, 2015.
To help explain the role of the Expanded Universe going forward, Lucasfilms has released a new video outlining the Expanded Universe’s past, present, and future. If you’re curious about the Expanded Universe, we have five places you might want to check out.