Before the Disney buyout of Star Wars, there were two types of Star Wars fans; those who loved the movies and those who loved the movies and the expanded universe (EU).
Anyone who knew me as a kid knew that I was obsessed with the Star Wars EU. I collected books, video games, comics, posters, magazines, and cards. I wrote several short stories and three books, got into the D20 table top game, and played the Star Wars customizable card game hundreds of times. I was even a member of the Star Wars Insider Fan Club. I was obsessed.
The Expanded Universe created a treasure trove of wonderful content containing some of the most beloved books and video games in all of Star Wars lore. All reviewed and approved by George Lucas himself. Books like Timothy Zahn's Empire trilogy, Shadows of the Empire, The Han Solo Trilogy, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and The X-Wing series were not only great Star Wars books, they were outstanding novels, period. Meanwhile, games like TIE Fighter, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jedi Academy are still regarded as some of the greatest PC games of all time.
Darth Revan and Darth Malak
Even though the Prequel trilogy was lackluster when they came out, they actually aged pretty well. You can kind of see the direction Lucas was going with them. Even though they are downright terrible at some points, they certainly do shine in others.
The Star Wars mythos was still alive and well by the time 2012 rolled around. The planned release of Star Wars 1313 and other projects by Lucas Arts looked very promising. On the book front, the Revan series and some of the stories set before the prequels were pretty popular among fans. The Clone Wars TV show was popular and well received, being the first Star Wars TV show to really take off. Star Wars as a franchise was still kicking ass.
In October of 2012, George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney for over 4 billion dollars. I wasn't really too nervous about it at first. After all, Disney seemed to be doing a good job with the Marvel canon, so I figured they would be good candidates to take over the franchise. Besides, George Lucas was getting old and seemed to have little interest in creating new content. The buyout seemed promising.
An interview was conducted with George Lucas where he said, "we have hundreds of books and comics and everything you can possibly imagine. I sort of moved that treasure trove of stories and things to Kathy (Kathleen Kennedy from Disney) and I had complete confidence that she was going to take them and make great movies."
When Lucas said that, I was stoked. I breathed a giant sigh of relief and I was super excited to see all of my favorite EU characters on the big screen. Mara Jade, Thrawn, Revan, Jodo Cast, Corran Horn and many other EU favorites finally had the possibility of being on the big screen.
Then in 2014, Lucasfilm did the unthinkable. They ret-conned and erased over 35 years of expanded universe lore in one swift stroke. It was as if millions of stories and characters cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
The very moment George Lucas realized he fucked up.
Most fans didn't bat an eye when this happened, at least the casual fans didn't, but me and many other fans were devatated by the news. My most fond childhood memories were crushed under Disney's boot and tossed in the trash. My pain quickly turned into anger. Why would Disney do such a thing? Of course it was so that they could write a brand new story arc that is the VII, VIII, and IX trilogy, but did they really have to erase all of Star Wars EU history?
How lazy is that? I mean, how would Marvel fans feel if Disney suddenly ret-conned every single comic book since Marvel's inception. The hardcore fans would be pissed to say the least, and it's no different for Star Wars fans. If you're wondering why George Lucas has been so vocal in his disapproval of the new lore, it's because he was lied to and betrayed by Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of Disney. You really can't blame him for being upset.
So now Disney is literally rewriting Star Wars history, and honestly, they haven't done a terrible job so far, although I do agree with many of Mark Hamill's scathing comments about it.
EPISODE VII: The Force Awakens
Did Disney rectify their hideous move of ret-conning the EU?
Episode VII was a very entertaining popcorn flick. Lots of cool action and spectacular special effects, but in the end it just felt hollow. We all know that it is basically a rehash of the story from A New Hope, but that isn't what killed it for me, it was the characters.
Finn- Extremely questionable character to say the least. He defects from the First Order, quickly joins up with some folks he doesn't know, and has no problem murdering all of his old buddies. Kind of a confusing guy. He's either a complete sociopath or Disney's writers were smoking crack. My money is on the latter.
Poe- Kinda of a cool and cocky Han Solo type character. I liked Poe, but I didn't like the fact that he's basically replacing Han.
Kylo Ren- I actually liked Kylo Ren. Probably because they borrowed so much from Darth Revan from EU lore that he actually turned out okay. Good job Disney on cloning most EU fan's favorite character, even if it's over 4,000 years since Revan was alive. However, a lot of fans didn't like Kylo, citing him as a whiny bitch who throws a lot of temper tantrums. I wonder if any of those fans remember Vader losing his shit on several occasions and murdering his allies out of spite? The only disappointment I had with Ren was how he looked incredibly weak, losing a fight to a regular guy with a lightsaber and a girl with zero force training. So much for being some all powerful sith lord.
Kylo Ren looks so familiar, I can't put my finger on it.
Rey- Easily the worst character in this movie. A lady who has never even been in space before gets into the Millenium Falcon and immediately begins performing all kinds of crazy maneuvers without ever seeing the controls of a ship before. She somehow can control other people's minds and deflect mind control without any training in the force and had the ability to stand toe to toe with a vicious and well trained sith lord. Nope. This is cheesier than Anakin in Phantom Menace getting behind the controls of a fighter for the first time and saying, "I'll try spinning, that's a neat trick." The difference is that Anakin was somewhat familiar with fast paced piloting by the time he got in the Naboo fighter, as was Luke when he first got into an X-Wing. Plus Luke used to fly T-16s quite a bit, which have controls similar to the T-65 X-Wing, both being manufactured by Incom Corp. Rey is so overpowered as a character that it's just corny.
Leia- Rest In Peace, Carry Fischer, but I gotta be honest. Her acting in this movie was extremely clammy and cold. I wasn't into her character at all in this.
Han- Fuck you Disney. Seriously, fuck you with a cactus.
Episode VII was an alright movie, but I'll probably never watch it again.
Jan Ors, I mean Jyn Orso?
I'm not going to get too deep into my thoughts on Rogue One, I'll just summarize this one. Rogue One was much better than Episode VII, minus the character development. I honestly was not very emotionally invested in any of the characters in it minus the robot and the two Force Adept characters.
I can't even remember any of their names, save for Jyn Orso. And the only reason why I remember her name is because Disney took Jan Ors and moved a few letters around. In case you're wondering, Jan was a key player in retrieving the Death Star Plans in the EU. Yes, the story of Rogue One has already been told through Jan Ors, Kyle Katarn, and Bria Tharen.
Still, if I gave The Force Awakens a 6/10, Rogue One would be a high 7, maybe an 8.
The action scenes looked more beautiful than anything else I had ever seen in Star Wars lore and they were pretty intense. The last twenty minutes of this movie is spectacular and among the best Star Wars has to offer.
The bottom line is that the EU is still official canon to me and many others. After all, these stories were all personally vetted and approved by George Lucas himself. The EU will always be the official storyline to me, but I will definitely stick around and see what new fan fiction Disney comes up with next.
May the Force be with you,