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In the 4th Century AD a council of Christian theologians and leaders gathered in Nicaea; the first ecumenical council of the Church was gathered in part to debate and determine what should be considered formal Christian doctrine and what should be considered formal Bible ‘canon’ as well as what should be omitted.
It was a crucial moment in the history of Christianity and Western religion that would affect the lives of millions of people for centuries to follow. Sixteen centuries later, in the year 2014, the modern religion of Star Wars has been undergoing the same critical process.

And just as the historical Jesus was never recovered from the Nicaea pact onwards, I worried that the sacred heart and soul of Star Wars was being threatened recently.

With all the spiraling fandom chatter about the upcoming Star Wars movies, and with the new Star Wars: Rebels animated series coming later this year, there was excitable talk of the franchise’s new owners seeking to ‘unify all facets of Star Wars to create one cohesive canon’. Predictably, numerous fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe – the novels, comics, video games, etc – excitedly advocated the incorporation of various elements of that EU into proper Star Wars canon, with many also advocating the EU as a possible basis for the upcoming film trilogy.

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My advice, speaking as a card-carrying lightsaber-wielding, Force-sensitive, moisture-farming, Nerf-herding Star Wars devotee since the age of six, has always been NO, NO NO. Firstly the Expanded Universe is NO sound basis for the new movies, and the second is that the EU should certainly NOT be officially incorporated into Star Wars canon.

As it happens, the matter has now officially been put to rest. Representatives of Disney released a statement in the passed week highlighting the significance of the EU for fans, but stressing the importance of creating a more unified and singular universe.

“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. 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.”

As unenthusiastic as I am about the new Star Wars films being made, I think the correct position has been arrived at.

I’m aware there are legions of fans of the vast Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Knights of the Old Republic games, the gazillion novels, etc. But it is very important for the integrity of Star Wars that the whole EU should remain a separate entity with its own canon. Firstly there’s just way too much stuff in the EU to try to pick and choose from, and secondly most of the EU is not WORTH drawing from anyway. I’m sorry, but someone’s got to say it: for every quality piece of work in the Expanded Universe, there are about ten to twenty really substandard or outright bad pieces too, much of it bordering on pathetic.

The sheer volume of EU Star Wars makes it pretty much inevitable that quality declines – quality declines with quantity.

The EU stopped effectively enhancing the legacy of the existing Star Wars Universe a long time ago and instead served to diminish it by oversaturation; by stretching the SW universe to breaking point.

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Which is not to say there aren’t some genuinely good novels or comics or mythologies in the non-film canon; I really liked Splinter of the Mind’s Eye when I was a kid, and liked the idea of the ‘Tales From…’ novels (Tales from Jabba’s Palace, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, etc), I liked the Zahn novels when I was younger, I vaguely liked Shadows of the Empire and one or two other books. I’ve also liked some of the Dark Horse comics, etc, especially the early ones. And I’ve no doubt that elements of some of the games have their own merit and value. But there’s also so much nonsense in the EU. Luke falling in love, Han and Leia having children Jedi, the Empire ‘returning’ for the umpteenth time – none of this is interesting.

The Han/Leia ‘family’ saga doesn’t make them more interesting, it makes them less interesting, far less dynamic characters – nothing like the sharp, lovable characters they were in the films.

This is part of the problem I have with there being a new Star Wars film trilogy at all; what is there to genuinely add? Every additional ‘Dark Jedi’, clone or Sith Lord is an additional dilution of whatever power the existing Star Wars movies still retain. But as for the vast Expanded Universe, to open the floodgates and allow parts of that world to enter into formal canon and suddenly acquire status equal to that of the films is just a crazy notion that would ultimately compromise the integrity of the ‘main’ Star Wars continuity. People have got to learn that quantity does not enhance quality. And the Expanded Universe should no more be made official Star Wars canon than fan fiction should be made Star Trek canon.

And that includes Mara Jade, who was recently being rumoured to be a character considered for the new films. She’s a character I’ve always liked; she was a great character in the Timothy Zahn novels, but her inclusion in the movies would set a precedent probably best avoided.

What should be official canon? Simply be the six main films; though I would be happy to accept the two Ewoks movies, the Droids and Ewoks animated series, the Clone Wars series’, and the upcoming Rebels series, along with – reluctantlythe coming Star Wars sequel trilogy, since that’s going to be made regardless of how much I whine.

Much as I like Mara Jade, everything else needs to be kept separate.

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