Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eyz's guide4noobs to the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Hi there guys and gals!

Today, I want to a little chat about Star Wars, before making a future review later on.
Just to make things clear between us!

Let's be honest first... Following or understanding Star Wars isn't that hard! Some nerds try to make it sound over complicated but really, it isn't! Science fiction is something I really dig, and mainstream audience is often too afraid of it (probably because of the X shows to follow across X kind of medias, and the previous storylines or series you're supposed to be familiar with)

Before starting reading Star Wars comics, from the things I did read online, it sounded pretty difficult to understand it all... But really, there isn't that much problems only when you try to make things sound over complicated (which some Star Wars fansites try too much to!)

The Star Wars Timeline:

The plot of the movies follow Anakin Skywalker's path as a Jedi (Episode 1-3) then while he is Darth Vader as an adult, his son, Luke's path as one as well (Episode 4-6)

George Lucas may have only alluded a small part of the background while making Ep4: A new hope. But the whole double trilogy was imagined around Ep5, be it in simple drafts at first. So it mostly stay focused on the Skywalkers and shows us the fall of a Republic into an Empire rising.

When I'll be making a review of a Star Wars game or comics I may talk about its place into the "SW Universe". So let's explain those quickly and simply.
Episode 1-3 take place during the periode of the galactic Republic which ends up into a Clone Wars. Then Anakin/Darth Vader tracks down the last Jedi alive and helps Palpatine/The Emperor founding the Empire. Which is ofter called the Rise of the Empire era.
Episode 4-6 take place after a ~20 years gap. Luke is starting to want leave the planet were he grew up. The Empire is having problems against a rebel division. It's the time of the Rebellion era.

So that's for the main movies. There isn't any other "movie" after that and there will never be. I understand that and people should stop askin' that to Lucas or LucasFilms employee! Seriously it's a great series as it is. And I like the idea of continuing the series across other medias, one reason why I like this universe!

The EU:

No! Not the Europe! The expanded universe. What is that? It's what makes SW so different that common mainstream movies. Instead of simply having the movies adaptation into books, games or etc.. SW has stories which revolves around other events not seen in the movies since those online focus on the Skywalkers.

But let's have an overview of the rest of the Star Wars universe at the same time.
First we have a time around 4000 years before the movies wich revolves around an Old Republic. It was a time where Jedi(s) were in conflict against Sith(s), before they all disappeard (the sith order). Many comics depict that time and 2 famous games as well. Another well used period of time is the one of the previously alluded Republic from the prequels. Comics depicting Jedi characters Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura specially.

During the Clone Wars, to show the time Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi spent fighting alongside clones, many, many Expanded universe projects use that period. That's where the biggest confusion appears. But it isn't that complicated if we don't try to make it sound impossible. In Episode 2, we see how Anakin was tired of Obi-Wan rules and is always complaining about the Jedi Order. In Episode 3 Obi-Wan and he were almost like brothers. The war brought them closer and they were almost on the same level (Jedi ranks aside, which is one of the subjects in Episode 3).
The EU uses the Clone Wars ~5 years period this way:
The war exploded during the 2nd movie, then immediatly after the Battle of Geonosis, the Clone Wars game (the one on Xbox, Gamecube, PS2) continues it and expand it into space.
The "main events" are then depicted in the Cartoon Network 2D animated show. Season 1-2 (edited on dvd as Volume 1) take place one after the other. Season 3 (Volume 2 on DVD) starts off from there but the war grows bigger and there's a time gap were we briefly see Anakin and Obi-Wan becoming friends again, war brothers. After that gab, all the rest of the season is spent on a planet before going back to the war from the beginning of the movie Episode 3.
The recent 3D movie and tv series from LucasAnimation take place in that time gap, Anakin and Obi-Wan looks (hair and clothes) are based on that moment to indicate when this takes place. It seems Anakin had a padawan tag along for a moment (during the war, many Jedi masters or knights died so padawans were dispatched everywhere for their training).
Finally the comics or books describe parallel events from other characters' point of view. Or events around those 2 tv shows.

That came out as a longer paragraph than expected...
Back on the other time periods. The Rise of the Empire is the most used for books. The Han Solo stories, the rebel alliances ones.. The game Force Unleashed takes place right in the middle of this period. The future Live action TV show will take place here too. It's a longer era than the clone wars but not as much used for the moment and pretty straightforward.
After the 6th movie, there's a fresh new start called New Jedi Order. Luke teaches new Padawans, the Empire is still alive even if dismantled. Many great books and comics use it such as the Thrawn trilogy, the Dark Empire, etc.. It's also a time were Kyle Katarn, hero of the games Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast becomes a Jedi and joins Luke. Mara Jade, has many adventures here in SW books. Probably one of my favorite eras.
Then after a long deserved peace, comes an alien invasion from outside the galaxy, called the Yuuzhan Vong war, which resulted into a new troubled times of the Star Wars Legacy, nearly 100 years after the last movie.

Alright, you still following me here?
I tried to make it sound as simple as I could and not too much into useless data (though I could have made it shorter if I re-read it...)

What is Canon?

Finally a brief explanation what is canon. First of all what is seen in the movies is the absolute Canon to follow. The franchise was created by George Lucas, so all of this is based around the movies only, the 6 movies.

What isn't canon anymore is everything that was produced up until Empire Strikes back and/or Return of the Jedi. Before that, Lucas didn't have control over everything that were made without him. Such things as the Ewoks tv movies, the..huh..Christmas Special, many books or the Marvel's Star Wars comics.
It was before Lucas created his own imprint at Dark Horse "LucasBooks" or before Lucas Animation or any of his subsidiaries. Some elements where brought back later on in games or comics but not making it canon but re-using elements as references/homages.

The current (and future) TV Shows, LucasBooks comics, LucasArts games are the sub-cannon, meaning any "new movie" could contract it and make it not cannon anymore (but there isn't gonna be one so..).

And finally stuff explicitly called Infinities are What if stories/parodies/non-cannon tales. Some are in the collected Star Wars Tales paperbacks. The insanely amazing Tag & Bink parody. Or the Star Wars Infinities re-imagining of the movies (big what if stories based on one of the movies each time).

Well, I guess that's it for now!
Long-ass explanation, but I really wanted to get it out.

Next, I'll be probably uploading some of my old reviews from DeviantArt here.
I'll be making a SW review later on.
And I'll pick first a comics for a new Comic book review too!

You may also leave comments for stuff you would like to see here!


  1. Ah, yes. The expanded universe I was very well aware of, despite not having really read any of them. My brother actually has novels of those post movie stories long ago (The Jedi Order, Mara Jade, Han's Jedi kids, Chewie left on an exploding planet, Boba Fett's return, that N64 game, etc) and I can see them on the shelf next to me. And Kyle Katarn was a real cool guy, too!

    Other sci-fi shows have Expanded Universes, too. Most notably Star Trek and Doctor Who. With the latter, I believe, is that they have periods in the show intentionally not shown, so that particular Doctor of the time would've had various adventures that would've been made into novels, comics or audio books, so they're also semi-canon in that sense, too. And said audio dramas tend to work well in either making a character likable (like the 6th Doctor was treated unfairly and the least liked) or give them more stories (in this case, the 8th Doctor, who only had one appearance in a failed TV movie revival).

    Oh, the joys of Expanded Universes~!

  2. SciFi shows mostly work that way! :P

    It's always better than, say, the Harry Potter books were adapted into movies which were adapted into (poorly received) games. Always the same stories and just adaptations. (I haven't read any HP book, just making an example here)

    I'm not that fan of adaptations since a story his always better suited for the media it was made for! There's always something lost in the translation... (for example most of Alan Moore work doesn't work and will not work that well in other format than comics. The narrative and pacing will lose a lot in a movie for example, besides the director's interpretation... I can't imagin a movie of Tom Strong... damn'!)