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A Comparison of Two Universes

The following was written by Maxine Morrell for her college essay that compared the Expanded Universe with the new DIsney canon. She was kind enough to let us post it here for everyone to enjoy. Thank you Maxine!

[The Star Wars ExpandedUniverse (1978-2014) Vs The DisneyStar Wars Universe(current)] In 1977 when Star Wars took the world by storm, fans clamored for more, thus spawned what is now known as the Expanded Universe or EU for short. The EU started in 1978, a year after the release of Star Wars, with the novel “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”by Alan Dean Foster. From then on, the EU grew exponentially, spanning 25,000 years of Star Wars history. The EU was more than just books too, it was comics, video games, trading cards, role playing games, animation and so much more.

When the Star Wars original trilogy ended in 1983 with “Return of the Jedi”, the Star Wars universe had gone quiet, many who were fans at the time considered it a dark age until in 1991 the Star Wars universewas revitalized. 1991 brought the release of “Heir to the Empire” the first of three in a trilogyof novels. “Heir to the Empire" reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller list and the entire trilogy itself sold a combined total of 15 million copies.

This trilogy of books picked up where the story left off, continuing the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and PrincessLeia, this trilogyalso introduced brand new characters to the Star Wars mythos. The EU continued prosperously and eventually therewere hundreds of books and comics, all in different time periods of Star Wars history and the writers of each story made sure to uphold continuity to make sure everything was one cohesive story. The EU was even further expanded with the release of the Star Wars prequels, more books, comics and games would expand upon the new characters in the prequelmovies. The Star Wars ExpandedUniverse quickly becameone of the largest fictional universes in the world, among the likes of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin.

Everything changed in 2012 when George Lucas,the creator of Star Wars,announced he would be selling his company to Disney for 4.05 billion dollars. For two years fans were left speculating on what this would mean for the beloved storiesof the EU. It was in 2014 when the Expanded Universe was deemed “non canon” and rebranded as “legends”. All in progress projects in the EU timeline were canceled indefinitely as Disney wanted a clean slate to make their own movies, books and shows in the Star Wars universe without being beholden to what came before.

So how are these two universesdifferent? Perhaps the most glaringdifference is the treatment of the main 3 characters, Han, Luke and Leia. In the EU they are a connectedand close family who are ever involved in some sort of adventure to save the galaxy, whereas in the Disney universe, all 3 take a backseat during events and are rarely ever seen.

In the EU, Han and Leia are happily married with 3 children who all grow to become Jedi Knights under theiruncle Luke. DisneyStar Wars is the completeopposite, Han and Leia have a very tenuous marriage and only have 1 child who does becomea jedi but eventually becomesthe villain which destroysthe relationship of Han and Leia and forces Luke to go into a self imposed exile for 30 or so years, which is the premise of the more recent Star Wars films.

Another difference would be how the Star Wars media is presented, the EU was mainly books, comics and video games, which can make new fans feel intimidated since not everyone is a reader or gamer.The Disney Star Wars mediais a lot more accessible to the commonconsumer with a wide variety of live action and animated shows as well as books, comics and games.

There is a large difference in quality though.While the EU told large sweeping story lines that covered a wide swath of history, Disney Star Wars is a more confined story for the most part, focusing on a core group of characters and one singular plot line.

Continuity is another key difference I would like to highlight between these two universes. The EU prized continuity above all else, with the authors going to great lengths to keep every EU story consistent with the others to form one cohesivestory. There were a few hiccups during the EU’s tenure but any continuity error was swiftly addressed and corrected in a future story via retconning, which meansto retrospectively correctan error by introducing a new explanation on previously established events.

The main reason for Disney doing away with the Expanded Universe was so that they could make one singular storyline where everything fit together without contradicting another story. This worked for a while, however in the past few years, their regard for continuity has significantly dwindled.

Tenaciouswriters hired by Disney have contradicted alreadyestablished works and these contradictions seemingly never get amended. The Expanded Universe and the Disney Star Wars Universe couldn’t be more different but how are they similar? One big example of a similarity between the two would be the storyline of Han and Leia’s son, in both timelines they start out as a hopeful Jedi but ultimately turn evil and become tyrants. Additionally, the now evil Solo child is thwartedby a young Jedi woman in both timelines as well.

Another parallel between the EU and Disney Star Wars is the goal to be one cohesive storyline and uphold the continuity, despite only the Expanded Universe succeeding in this goal the majority of the time. Both universes are also similarin regards to how GeorgeLucas views them. Neither timeline was what George had envisioned for his universe. George had outlines of what he imagined for his continuation of Star Wars but it never came to fruition.

Ultimately both the Expanded Universe and Disney Star Wars Universe are different and similar in a myriad of ways. However the validity of both can never be debated and the love for each that fans have is undying. It is entirely up to each fan to decide which Star Wars timeline they prefer. I personally favor the Expanded Universe, as I believe the stories told are of higher quality with a lot more nuance and substanceto them compared to the Disney Star Wars timeline. Whether you prefer the Expanded Universeor the Disney Star Wars,both timelines will continue to be cherished by millions of fans around the world for many years to come.



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