The tl;dr version of my Defense of canon. These are the five most common anti-Expanded Universe arguments, along with their defenses.
It’s not Disney, it’s Lucasfilm. || It’s not Lucasfilm, it’s Disney.
This is a shallow, semantics-based argument generally used in lieu of actual thought. First, though, just to get this out of the way: it doesn’t matter who it is. Telling me that “Lucasfilm did it” does not make it less horrible somehow. Decanonizing the EU was an egregious, unpardonable mistake and it doesn’t matter who the decision ultimately came from. It was wrong, period.
That being said — of course we don’t think that Bob Iger is sitting in his office masterminding grand reboots. This stuff is beneath him. He’s a businessman, a bottom-line guy. Pablo Hidalgo of Lucasfilm continually brags about how the reboot was his idea starting in 2005 (logical, given that the continuity-raping TCW seems to have come from him, too), so it’s pretty obvious that the reboot did originate with Lucasfilm. However, Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, stated definitively: “We needed to have an understanding that if we acquire the company, despite tons of collegial conversations and collaboration, at the end of the day, we have to be the ones who sign off on whatever the plans are” (source). The same article emphasizes Iger’s stance that Disney and not Lucasfilm has final say, period.
What does that mean? That means that Lucasfilm, as the property of Disney, is absolutely obligated to do what they say. When people tell you “It’s not X, it’s Y,” point out that the reboot’s origin is completely moot. Even if Lucasfilm suggested it, Disney had to agree, and the damage has been done regardless of who did it. The fallacy also ignores that the #GiveUsLegends request is two-pronged: the letter-writing campaign writes to both Disney and Lucasfilm, after all. The fact is simply that if Lucasfilm told Disney, “this would make more money,” Disney would probably sign off “OK.” And if Disney said “bring it back,” Lucasfilm would have to comply, no questions.
Well, they only got rid of X, Y, or Z.
This and the next two arguments are totally rooted in pure ignorance. The claim is that “only” certain dates or eras were removed from the canon, that it was somehow selective, “only post-ROTJ” or something. Again I have to start off my rebuttal by saying, even if that is the case, that does NOT help. If they were “only” removing post-ROTJ from canon, that would actually be far more offensive, considering that post-ROTJ is the absolute bedrock on which most of Star Wars is founded. The Thrawn Trilogy gave us the entire EU and populated half the prequels; Shadows of the Empire made the prequel trilogy possible. To discard them and keep anything else would be beyond insulting.
But that doesn’t matter because the decanonization was not selective. Anyone who claims that The Old Republic or prequel-era stuff is still somehow canon, or that Revan will somehow find his way back in after some kind of probationary time period, has missed the point. “Order 66,” the press release that destroyed a universe with a single stroke, makes it overwhelmingly clear that only “the six Star Wars episodes, and […] Star Wars: The Clone Wars” are canon going forward. To further emphasize that, when the Story Group was asked if TOR was canon, Hidalgo replied “BioWare has created their own universe that is so fantastic, we’re not going to change it” — meaning that, 1) it’s not “canon,” and 2) in order to make it “canon,” it would have to be changed. Reboot means reboot: nothing prior to Order 66 is canon anymore. Star Wars, 1976-2014, has been abandoned. Period. (And if you think that’s an exaggeration, please note that their canon has already contradicted the prequel trilogy and begun abandoning lore from the six Episodes.)
It doesn’t matter because it was never canon.
This might be the mother of all insulting lies. The short answer is “yes, it was”; the long answer, you can find here. It’s just so hard to rebut this one quickly, it’s just that ridiculous. George Lucas created the EU just as surely as he created the films; Timothy Zahn got the job to write a new Star Wars trilogy in 1989, meaning that if you take into account the time it took for Lucas to come up with the idea, pitch the idea to a publisher, look for and choose an author, create the proposal, have Zahn go over the proposal, and have Zahn accept the job, George Lucas basically conceived of the EU by the time ROTJ was out of theaters. The Star Wars Insider was referring to “Gospel, or canon” by 1994. When Lucas edited the OT in 1997, he made sure to add elements from the EU, and he wove the EU throughout the narrative of the PT — from Coruscant’s name to Anakin’s scar. This is undeniable proof that the Maker himself accepted the EU as canon. In 2008, Star Wars Insider reported “The Star Wars EU is unique both in its size and its care in the narrative, which is shepherd and organized; and Star Wars the Expanded universe is official.” Let me repeat that last part: “The Expanded Universe is official.”
Every book emphasizes this. Every reference material, every resource. The films themselves. The creator himself. The evidence reveals without a shadow of a doubt that from 1991 to 2014, the EU was not some mere spin-off — and thanks to retcon and the Holocron, all Star Wars spinoffs from 1976-1991 were integrated — it was all canon.
Okay, but it was bad and full of inconsistencies anyway.
I’m pretty sure that the previous point already rebuts that in its entirety, but I’ll add a few more words. Bad? The Star Wars Expanded Universe held the 2013 Guinness Book record for “most successful book series based on a film series.” With the first original novel appearing in 1978, the franchise saw more than 100 million sales of 850+ books, including 80 New York Times bestsellers. Yes, total crap makes the NYT bestseller list all the time, but not 80 times (that’s something like 23% of the adult novels making NYT bestseller status). The authors who wrote for the EU are respected scifi personages, Hugo and Nebula award winners. Yes, out of 850 books, there’s bound to be a few that don’t please people — but here’s the really amazing thing. Even though there are lackluster parts of the EU, every book is loved by someone. I’ve met people who love The Crystal Star, one of the most famous “bad EU books,” and people who love the Jedi Prince series, which was a S-level canon bit of tripe-for-kids that people usually flock to whenever they want to make you think the EU “totally sucked.” All of which goes to say that no, the EU was not “totally bad,” and even the bad parts have their fans.
As far as full of inconsistencies — no. When they started talking about “gospel, or canon” in 1994, the editors at Lucasfilm were incredibly vigilant about continuity. But more than that. The authors weren’t being controlled by some external story group telling them what they could or could not say. The authors collaborated with one another, consciously choosing to make their stories integrate. Kevin J. Anderson made the monumental decision to have his Jedi Academy Trilogy reference Tom Veich’s Dark Empire comic. The continuity was much stronger because of this kind of communication between the authors. Lucas, further demonstrating his belief that the EU was canon, instructed authors not to touch on pre-ANH eras, reserving them for himself until he could make the film trilogy. He also came up with the canon hierarchy so there could be no confusion about what went where. There are no inconsistencies in the EU. People who claim this can’t produce any.
But a reboot was completely inevitable.
This argument seems to be the last ditch effort made by nucanon defenders who haven’t got anything else to stand on. They try to play the common sense “okay, but there was no way they could have made new movies consistent with the EU.” The fact is, no one before April 25, 2014, even considered reboot a possibility. Check out this December 2012 interview with Legacy comic writers Corinna Bechko Gabriel Hardmann: Comic Book Resources asked “Do you feel any added pressure to be writing in the future, more than 100 years after the Battle of Yavin, when you know Lucasfilm’s writers will be mining this same fertile ground for at least three feature films?” The assumption was that the new Star Wars movies would be taking place up to a century after Yavin. And Hardmann’s reply was unconcerned: “We have no idea of what’s going to happen in the movies; we’re just trying to tell an exciting story that would work no matter what. And the era that our story is set is likely well after what they would be dealing with in the movies anytime soon, no matter what.”
Neither the popular geek website nor the EU authors themselves thought a Disney purchase was going to necessitate any kind of reboot. They assumed business as usual. So did Slashfilm, which prompted in December 2012 that there would be lots of EU (only they just called it Star Wars) to keep us busy until 2015’s film release. You know who else assumed business as usual? Disney Lucasfilm. From October 2012, when the purchase was finalized, until April 2014, when Order 66 was announced, the EU continued exactly as it always had. There were even people after the Order 66 announcement who thought it had been a hoax to prevent spoilers for a Thrawn-inspired film!
Timothy Zahn had actually volunteered to “at his own expense” go to Disney and write a script for a seventh film — and that’s even after the publishers betrayed him by murdering his characters without even telling him. In a 2012 interview with Hollywood.com (link broken), Zahn gave this statement about what he thought the new films could focus on:
You got a couple of hours here? First of all, I think they need to skip a generation and have either Luke, Han, and Leia’s kids, or even grandkids, and have the Original Trilogy characters be the older, wiser mentor types. But one of the things I’d really like to see, and this would fit very nicely with Disney, as far as I can remember we’ve never seen a really good family relationship in Star Wars. We’ve had neurotic relationships and even outright antagonism with Luke and Vader. But I’d like to see Luke and his son or grandson have a true bond, a functional family relationship. And of course I want a really good storyline and space battles. I’d like to see something different than a Skywalker turning to the Dark Side. The Star Wars universe is so rich with storytelling possibilities that you don’t need to repeat the “turning to the Dark Side” concept of the previous films. I don’t want to see the same stuff over and over.
It’s painful to read now, but the clear and obvious assumption was that Disney would continue Star Wars as usual. No, a reboot was not inevitable.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to say about it, but the point I wanted to try with this page is just to give you some very quick responses to very common arguments. Please check out the rest of the site for more detailed information, and if you come across an argument I haven’t addressed that you’re having trouble with, don’t hesitate to send it my way; I’ll do what I can! In the meantime, SOLIDARITY! We will stick together and we will prevail. MTFBWY.