This actually popped up a couple of days ago, but I’d sat on posting it mostly because I’m lazy (and needed a good title). I first saw it on io9, and ArsTechnica has since written an op-ed on it. In short… Disney is going to “address” the Expanded Universe (EU), and decide what’s in canon and what’s not from the EU. Anyone who’s followed Star Wars outside of the movies (which I’ll just assume is pretty much everyone here) knows that the “Official” to “EU” connection is fuzzy at best. Books, video games, some comics (but not all), TV shows, toys… all considered in canon, and often conflicting with each other. There were even levels of canon defined, with the movies at the top, then TV shows, then books, then I think fan fiction…
In short, the whole thing is a mess. Enter Disney, most likely salivating over its multi-billion dollar property and the greatest merchandising machine this side of Cars. Part of their control of the universe is actually controlling the universe. It’s why the comics are going back to Marvel (owned by Disney), why the books have been slowly going away (most likely to move to some other publisher), and why the Clone Wars cartoon was killed off in favor of Rebels on a Disney network.
Anyone that’s read my reviews knows I harp on the EU a lot, assuming you’re not one of the people that doesn’t just get annoyed at my opening joke at the expense of Episode I and goes right into complaining in comments. The EU is a love / hate thing for me… when I was far younger, I read the books and loved them. But as I got older, and started to do things like study writing in college (yeah, I never did finish that degree program… turns out I had a strong desire to eat once I graduated and switched to computer programming), I started to understand that the books were typically horribly written and even worse with their ideas.
Take the Timothy Zahn books for example, which gave us a whole lot of cool things (Thrawn, Mara Jade, Gilad Pellaeon, Coruscant) and some really dumb things (Clones with extra vowels in their names, Ysalamir). It’s actually probably the best the EU has to offer, but the reality is that these books are to movies what Michael Bay is to movies: lots of explosions and battles that fling characters from one to the next. I know, I have an opinion that’s going to make people mad… shock, I know.
The problem with the EU, in the end, is that it was so successful. Part of the reason the Thrawn trilogy was so successful is that there was basically nothing in the EU at that point. Star Wars was unloved and mostly forgotten in popular culture when it first came out. Seriously, it was 1991, and you hadn’t been able to buy action figures for five years, the Special Edition movies wouldn’t be out for another six, and my Ewoks still said “nyub nyub” in a song at the end of Jedi. For a lot of people that grew up on the PT and the like, it’s probably strange to think about a world where Star Wars wasn’t everywhere.
After the success of that trilogy, and the re-re-releases, PT, video games, etc., the EU just blew up. They were putting out books every couple of months, and there are more than a few that made the Twilight series look like Faulkner (looking at you, Darksaber). Worse, it got so complicated and interconnected that you could only keep up if you worked in a bookstore or were rich (guess which one I was when I was making minimum wage at a Waldenbooks).
Worse, there were things that were only canon in one medium (comics) and not the other (books). Unless the comic was really popular, like Dark Empire, and then you got to see it sort of creep up elsewhere. The same rule applied to video games, with characters like Kyle Katarn, the name of the guy from the Dark Forces / Jedi Knight series (which were awesome games), who became a major character in the books.
Personally, I think the EU brought this on itself, because it eventually got to be where the movies were a distant memory of too many things. It was responsible for making it so every character in the universe had some deep tie and interaction to the main characters from the movies, and it got so far along that you had to check Wookiepedia to check on the background of characters and who’d killed them off.
It should be interesting to see what Disney does here. On one hand, there are some very good ideas in the EU, some so good that they made their way into stuff that will be canon already (like Coruscant). It would be dumb to throw away the baby with the bath water and just scrap it all when you have good name recognition for things like Thrawn and Mara Jade (or the twins) for established fans. Yet there’s a lot of the EU that could do with a reboot (maybe get rid of the bugs, the Vong, killing Chewie for no * bleep * reason, killing pretty much everyone that Luke/Han/Leia ever loved because you can’t figure out how to write a proper story or drama… I could go on for awhile). I can see Disney cutting out a whole ton, and then bringing some of it back with future spin-offs, tie-ins, or new EU material.
So, I suppose, what would everyone like to see in the coming bloodbath, and what do you expect the EU to look like in the near future?