Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Legends Never Die

After Revenge of the Sith, I was pretty much done with Star Wars. The prequel trilogy was a massive disappointment for me, and the quality of secondary materials dropped considerably after 1999. I'd occasionally peek back in to see what was happening or buy the occasional video game, but Star Wars as a whole wasn't the all-encompassing obsession that I had grown up with.

Then Disney bought the entirety of the property in 2012 and in 2014 the new owners decided to wipe the slate, as it were, and deleted the Expanded Universe continuity in one stroke. 37 years' worth of officially licensed material, be it books, shows, comics, games, made-for-tv movies, whatever, was thrown out the window to make room for a new “Canon” continuity where everything from that point was now officially official and the only survivors of the previous continuity were the six theatrical movies and the animated Clone Wars TV show that was airing at the time.

From a business standpoint, I get it. Disney spent a fat wad of cash getting Star Wars, they were damn sure going to milk it for what it was worth, and that meant new movies, new books, new games, and new everything.

Everything else? Right into the memory hole, except for whatever characters and items that the powers that be deemed worthy of being elevated to Canon, like Grand Admiral Thrawn. Oh sure, they're still reprinting the old continuity, now branded as “Legends” but that's because Disney loves money and its a move to placate old fans bitter about the Wipe.

If I sound bitter three years after the Wipe, that's because I am. George Lucas didn't rape my childhood with the Prequels like so many people joked about in the early 2000s for the simple reason that all those stories and games that I consumed with my parents' hard-earned money as a boy still counted. I could still point people to them and say “the Prequels suck, sure, but Wraith Squadron is amazing” and not get too many funny looks.

Now though? Like tears in the rain. The Expanded Universe is gone and only the grognards are left to bear witness to its passing. The new generation of Star Wars fans, both the casuals that only watch the movies and the diehards that consume the books and comics, are now being told that this is fine. This is good. The Expanded Universe was a convoluted mess that was difficult to follow and was nothing but glorified fan fiction anyway and it never mattered. There were no strong female characters. There was no diversity. It belongs dead and forgotten.


The hell with that. It mattered to me. It mattered to enough people that a constant barrage of New York Times Bestseller novels and a growing video game empire in the early 90s provided the raw financial capital and an audience hungry for more that emboldened Lucas to release the Special Editions and then new movies to huge (financial, if not critical) success.

Without the Expanded Universe, I doubt that would have happened.

So with that said, and since I have a tendency to rage against the dying of the light, I am going to go through the Expanded Universe as a literary body and give them a fair shake. Because while there certainly were bizarre missteps and insane oddities in that patchwork continuity, there were some truly amazing stories that NuCanon hasn't surpassed. 

1 comment:

Eli said...

You are preaching to the choir. Saw a link on twitter to your Heir to the Empire review. I'm convinced that Disney doesn't get Star Wars and probably never will. No strong female characters? Mara Jade laughs. A character I take more seriously than Rey any day. Looking forward to your other reviews. Especially the odd duck ones.