For the past two decades, hardcore Star Wars fans have had the books and comics of the Expanded Universe to fill in the “sequel” years following Return of the Jedi. Now that Episode VII is becoming a reality, fans of these books are hoping to see some of their favorite characters on the big screen. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening, as from all hints it appears as if Episode VII is an original story that will likely ignore much of the Expanded Universe. Here are five reasons why they are doing that:
It’s Based on Lucas’ Outlines
While Lucas would pick and choose elements from the EU to include in the movies, he would always do his own thing and then force the EU to retcon itself around what he did; never the other way around. A big example of this is the description of the Clone Wars in the Thrawn trilogy, which was completely different than what Lucas did. That caused a slight retcon in terms of the timeline so the events described by Zahn could still have happened. Lucas has also not had very kind words about the EU in the past (such as Luke being married), so as the stories for the Sequel Trilogy came from him; expect much of the EU to be ignored.
The Element of Surprise
One of the things that made the Original Trilogy great is that no one knew how it would end. No one expected Vader to be Luke’s father. In the Prequels, everyone knew it would end with Anakin becoming Vader and there were specific steps the final movie had to take as we all knew where the characters would end up prior to Episode IV. If they based Episode VII on any of the EU stories, that would kill any element of surprise and open it up to even more criticism when it doesn’t follow someone’s favorite story exactly right.
An Academy Award Winner is Writing It
Lucasfilm hired an Academy Award winning writer in Michael Arndt, and they aren’t going to shackle him with adapting some book. Arndt has done speeches on how A New Hope is nearly perfect storytelling, so he knows what makes Star Wars (especially the Original Trilogy) so great. They’re going to allow him to write an original script based on Lucas’ story and not based on any Expanded Universe novel.
Too Much EU Baggage
There are more than twenty years of Expanded Universe stories. Lucasfilm wants to reach as many people with Episode VII, and asking them to read twenty years worth of novels to figure out who specific characters are is simply not a smart thing to do. This isn’t like The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series, where someone could quickly get through a couple of books. There is simply too much backstory to the EU for them to base a movie on any of it.
People Love Chewie
If they released Episode VII without fan-favorite Chewbacca, it would probably be a disaster. People would wonder where Chewie was, only to find out they killed him off in some book released a decade ago. That would cause a backlash against Star Wars more than the Prequels or Special Editions ever did….