Between 1983 and 1999, there were no Star Wars films. I know. I was alive the entirety of that time and most of it sucked (because of the no Star Wars, clearly). Then came the Prequel Trilogy (I’ll pause and let you shout your opinions into the ether), and another ten year gap before The Force Awakens. Now, we’re going to get a Star Wars film every year forever. Don’t think they’re stopping at Episode IX. They will be cranking out episodes and spin-offs as long as Disney has the license. And, if they’re as good as TFA and Rogue One appears to be, there is absolutely no problem with that. But, what filled the gap, keeping Star Wars alive during the aforementioned 16 and 10 year gaps? The Extended Universe.
After nearly killing the franchise with a decade of Droids and Ewoks, in 1991, we got Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, the first Star Wars novel acknowledged as canon. It was followed by roughly 300 other novels, seven billion comics, and several cool video games. These filled in the gaps between the films, stretching back 10,000 years before A New Hope, to roughly 200 years after. There were some amazing characters introduced: Darth Revan, Darth Bane, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, etc. Lots of stuff happened. They killed off Chewie by throwing a planet at him (no, really), Han and Leia had three kids and a much better marriage, though the kid they named Anakin (because Leia is going to name a kid after the guy who tortured her and blew up her home planet) died in a war with really aggressive reptiles. They other children, twins, Jacen and Jaina both became Jedi under Luke’s New Jedi Order and then Jacen went to the Dark Side and his sister had to put him down. Palpatine came back from the dead a few times. The point is, a lot of stuff was out there when Disney lapped up the property. TOO MUCH STUFF. Disney jettisoned everything considered canon before their acquisition of Lucasfilm except for the films and The Clone Wars and Rebels TV series. They had to do it. How can you have any creative freedom when you’re bogged down by that much continuity that only .5% of your audience even knows about (yes, we’re the.5%). So out it all went, all novels, comics, video games and TV shows henceforth all weave into the movies and are canon. Disney quickly used this in Star Wars: Battlefront to backdoor Boba Fett surviving the Sarlacc Pit (something the EU had long ago established.
A lot of fans hope to see the best parts of the EU and, perhaps some of the characters worked into films in the future. What they may not realize is, Star Wars has been cherry picking from the EU since the Prequel Trilogy (I’ll pause again for the howling). Episode VII also borrowed some ideas from the EU. Kylo Ren is essentially Jacen Solo, but with a much bigger grandaddy complex. In the novels, Jacen kills his aunt, Kylo kills his father; there are a lot of parallels. The video above will examine 15 that have already been mined from this storehouse of awesome. For example, it was in the comics that we first got a look at one of these babies: