“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon. We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.” – Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm
Narrative, continuity, canon — these three literary concepts resonate very strongly with me. Ever since I was young, I found consistency in storytelling to be a highly important function. I still remember reading through the early Star Wars Expanded Universe novels and loving how little details would tie into the films or other books in the saga. For me, the Expanded Universe had a cohesive feel to it. In fact, it wasn’t difficult for me to lose myself in those stories.
As time went on, I grew older and so did the Expanded Universe. Toward the final story arcs of what is now Legends, I really didn’t feel that same cohesion I saw in, say, the Timothy Zahn stories. Then came the Disney sale followed by the April 2014 announcement that would change the Star Wars universe forever.
“More important, the old concept of what is canon and what isn’t is gone, and from this point forward our stories and characters all exist in the same universe; the key creatives who work on the films, television, comic books, video games, and novels are connected creatively for the first time in the history of the Star Wars universe.” – Dave Filoni, Executive Producer and Supervising Director of Star Wars Rebels
Before I extol the virtues of the new canon, I do want to point out that the purpose of this piece is not to disparage the Legends continuity, any of its fans, or the many authors who poured so much love into it over the years. I grew up with the Expanded Universe and I would not trade those memories for anything in the world. That said, I really cannot stress enough just how fortunate I believe that we Star Wars fans are now.
In my opinion, the most beneficial thing to come from the tabula rasa approach is a laser-focused narrative. With the Lucasfilm Story Group at the helm, we are now seeing an interconnectedness that was never present in our Star Wars universe. The most recent and relevant example of this is the character of Saw Gerrera. This Onderonian freedom fighter made his debut in a seemingly-isolated story arc in the fifth season of The Clone Wars. Although he did not physically appear, the next we heard of Saw was in Star Wars Rebels. One of his mercenaries traumatized a younger ISB agent, Kallus, in the early days of the Galactic Civil War. Fast forward to May 2016. The release of Claudia Gray’s novel, Bloodline, shows how the New Republic senate considered him to be a borderline terrorist. This recollection was based strictly on his use of brutal tactics and strategies.
These in-universe mentions are all seemingly random, right? Well, imagine everyone’s surprise when Lucasfilm announced that Forest Whitaker’s Rogue One character would be none other than Saw Gererra himself. This is huge for the saga as a whole. An animated character, making the transition to a live-action film, really does show that they were serious about tying this saga together in ways they never could before.
“We never met, but I do know you. In fact, I came to thank you. In the Clone Wars you fought in the Third Battle of Mygeeto.” – Kanan Jarrus
Similar to the above example, one of my favorite uses of cross-media storytelling occurred in the Rebels episode “The Protector of Concord Dawn.” Here, Kanan mentioned being saved by the Mandalorian Protector, Fenn Rau, during the Third Battle of Mygeeto when he was Padawan Caleb Dume in the Clone Wars. The best part? That very same battle was depicted in Marvel’s Kanan issue #10 which released the same day the Rebels episode debuted. Granted, multimedia storytelling isn’t a new thing, but this instance certainly impressed me a lot.
There are plenty more examples and I truly cannot list them all here. To cap off my post, I’d like to say that this franchise is beginning to emulate another Disney-owned project: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a huge fan of the movies, and Netflix shows, I could not be happier. I get the sense that Kathleen Kennedy had the MCU in mind when she first proposed the reboot. Will there be continuity snarls in the future? Absolutely. The folks at Lucasfilm are only human. However, I believe that under the guidance of the Kennedy and the Story Group, there will continue to be a tightly woven story that will span multiple timelines and continue to amaze Star Wars fans for generations to come.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!