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The Expanded Universe Explains, Vol. XVI – Obi-Wan on Tatooine

“Years ago, we removed one child from Tatooine, thinking him to be the galaxy’s greatest hope. Now I have returned one—with the same goal in mind. I hope it goes better this time.”1

Well, here we are. After several years, countless rumors, and (if you believe those rumors) multiple false starts, Ewan McGregor is officially returning to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. What may or may not have once been planned as a spinoff film a la Solo: A Star Wars Story will instead be produced as a streaming series on the imminent Disney+ platform, meaning that this thinnest of concepts—guy sits in the desert for twenty years—will end up receiving at least as much screentime as an entire film trilogy put together.

But with that extra screentime comes different expectations. Without a hard two-to-three-hour time limit, streaming television can tell stories that film, perhaps Star Wars films in particular, just can’t; the stakes can be lower, the dangers more psychological, the character development more methodical. With a playground of two decades at their disposal, Lucasfilm can cherry-pick the most interesting thing (maybe the only interesting thing) that could possibly have happened to Obi-Wan during his exile and build a series around that, rather than try to tell an epic, multi-decade story just for the sake of filling a gap. With the timeline revealed at D23 placing the project around year eight of Obi-Wan’s nineteen-year desert vacation (during Solo‘s time jump, which may or not be important), it seems as if they do indeed plan on the former, which is music to my ears.

But even then, how much could really have happened to him? If Obi-Wan’s streaming exploits are too elaborate, too significant, doesn’t that undercut the whole idea of his exile? What if Luke gets trampled by a bantha while Obi-Wan is off fighting the Crimson Dawn?

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  1. From Kenobi, by John Jackson Miller []

The Expanded Universe Explains, Vol. XV – The Origins of the Jedi

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With The Last Jedi seemingly poised to spend a good chunk of time in the environs of the first Jedi Temple, it is likely to include revelations about the history of the Jedi, or even the Force itself, that affected Luke Skywalker profoundly and perhaps contributed to his belief that “it’s time for the Jedi to end.” We’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to find out what those revelations might be, and just how much detail we’re given. But in the meantime, did the Expanded Universe ever get into this?

You’d better believe it did—though impressively, Lucasfilm resisted the impulse to fully explain the Jedi’s beginnings for almost thirty-five years. In 2012, the comic book series Dawn of the Jedi by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema finally pulled back the curtain and stitched the few scant details we did have into a much larger tapestry of brand-new characters and conflicts that still felt true to their trademark brand of Star Wars melodrama. The series was successful enough that a tie-in novel, Into the Void by Tim Lebbon, was released about a year later (and only one year before the reboot was officially announced, meaning the whole project came in pretty close to the wire). Let’s talk about what they came up with. Read More

The Expanded Universe Explains, Vol. XIV – The Alliance to Restore the Republic

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In recent weeks, as the Rogue One hype train reached full speed, a new comment from Gareth Edwards made certain longtime Star Wars fans take notice—in a short featurette for the film, Edwards stated that while the thrust of the film is the theft of the Death Star plans, “through [the heroes’] journey, we see the formation of the Rebel Alliance”. While he could very well have intended “formation” in a metaphorical sense, characters learning to work together and all that, fans wouldn’t be fans if they didn’t at least suspect that he might have been speaking literally—meaning the film will show us the official consolidation of the various lowercase-R rebel cells into the capital-R Rebel Alliance.

While Star Wars Rebels has laid much groundwork for this already, it hasn’t yet depicted such an event, so while Rogue One is situated almost three years after the most recent episodes, it’s entirely possible that a formal Alliance won’t exist until then, implying that when A New Hope begins the organization is only weeks, or even days, old. That would jive well with the most literal interpretation (there’s that word again) of the opening crawl’s statement that stealing the plans is the Rebels’ “first victory”; indeed, the mere existence of a show like Rebels requires such a literal reading—the show wouldn’t last very long if the main characters never succeed at anything, so one must draw a distinction with the Ghost crew’s small, often pyrrhic, victories and the coordinated military victory we’ll soon witness in theaters.

For the Rebel Alliance to form so late in the timeline is a deviation from the Legends version of events, but not as much of one as you might think—likewise, the continuing presence of Jedi within the organization on Rebels seems like a big deal, but it’s nothing us old Expanded Universe fans aren’t used to. So in anticipation of the new canon finally linking up the rebels and the Rebels (whether it happens in Rogue One or not), let’s take a look at how this went down the first time.

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The Expanded Universe Explains, Vol. XIII – Young Han Solo

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The Expanded Universe Explains series has had an interesting evolution over the last few years; originally it was a compendium of lots of actual questions posed by my friend Pearlann; once the reboot happened I then moved on to detailing stray movie references that had been told and retold in Legends multiple times (and thus, were especially in need of a reboot). That strategy eventually led me to one of the biggest messes of all—the theft of the Death Star plans.

Perhaps not all that coincidentally, that low-hanging fruit became the seed (ha, fruit pun) of the first Star Wars spinoff film—Rogue One. As such, interest in that particular piece has remained quite steady over the last eighteen months as more and more people become curious about the story. That recently led me to the conclusion that the next spinoff film, its premise also rife in Legends, was a worthwhile topic for an EU Explains, and so here we are.

24. What is Han Solo’s pre-A New Hope backstory?

Well, for starters, there’s a whole bunch of it—two entire novel trilogies, plus any number of scattered bits and pieces. If you really want to get the full young-Han-Solo experience, you’re in luck, as both the Han Solo Adventures, a self-contained trilogy by EU VIP Brian Daley, and the much more recent (and expansive) Han Solo Trilogy by Ann C. Crispin are among the best of the Legends material out there (while managing to be very, very different kinds of stories), and unlike a lot of my recent topics here, they’re pretty damn good at consistency—Crispin’s trilogy covers effectively Han’s entire life pre-ANH, meaning that at one point Han basically takes a leave of absence from his own book and the plot continues without him while the events of Daley’s trilogy are taking place. Read More

The Expanded Universe Explains, Vol. XII – Galactic Cartography and Astrogation

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While The EU Explains dates back to the earliest days of this site, and thus before the reboot actually took place, that seemed a likely enough prospect that this series was conceived less as “what are the definitive answers to these questions?” than as “how did the Expanded Universe address this?” The EU’s version(s) of the theft of the Death Star plans, certainly, isn’t going to hold up much longer, but if we don’t learn from the past we’re doomed to repeat it and all that—so I feel it’s helpful for both old fans and new to reflect on how these things were dealt with in Legends so that we might gain insight into what might happen in the new canon, and just as importantly, what we might hope to avoid.

To that end, this time around I’m going to realign my targeting computer and use The EU Explains to comment on The Force Awakens directly, and investigate one of the biggest questions that has arisen from the film—not to provide definitive answers, but simply to suggest some. After all, one of the hallmarks of the new canon is not to explain background details when the story doesn’t absolutely demand it, so knowing there are at least possible answers might be the best we can hope for anytime soon. Read More