Five Ways to Expand the Current Star Wars Universe

Five Ways to Expand the Current Star Wars Universe

Hi folks, Nathan here, filling in for Kiri while she gets into the groove of this whole motherhood thing. All the best to Kiri and her little Jedi as they start this journey. May the Force be with you for sure!

Okay, so let’s talk about the old Expanded Universe. It was just over two years ago that this collection of novels, comics, and game narratives loved (and occasionally loathed) by Star Wars fans was relegated to the status of “Legends”. In that time, a great deal of digital ink has been spilled decrying Disney’s decision as well as talking about all the critical pieces of the EU that should have been kept canon.

And none of it has mattered. At the end of the day, I understand why Disney made this call. The EU became a convoluted collection of Galaxy ending disasters occurring every other week and an indistinguishable knot of interpersonal relationships. Some of it had to be jettisoned in order to create stories that were still fresh and compelling and accessible to new audiences.

However, the EU was still home to a bunch of great ideas. No small indication of that is how The Force Awakens borrowed some of them, at least conceptually, to fill out its characters and places. One example is Starkiller Base which certainly recalls The Sun Crusher. And of course there’s the reveal that Kylo Ren is in fact Jacen Solo, er, I mean Ben…

In the wake of The Force Awakens, I want to look at aspects of the EU that are ideas that can still be used to fill out that Galaxy far, far away. The idea here isn’t that Disney should lift these five things whole cloth from the pages of our favorite Star Wars novels. Rather, I believe these five concepts should be used to help flesh out the new canon, even if not in the exact form we’re familiar with.

Lando’s Bad Luck

You remember the bustling mineral business from Nomad City on Nkllon? Or the Galaxy famous theme parks of Cloud City? Or the time Lando fought a rancor for priceless Meek artifacts?

No? That’s because in the EU Lando had a long history of betting big, and failing bigger. It was part of the old space pirate’s enduring charm. He was always out for the big score, even if that was going to land him in more trouble than it was worth.

It does appear that so far in canon stories of Lando will fall along the same vein. His appearance on the Rebels show involved many shenanigans leading to the revelation that he’s going to be using puffer pigs to root out valuable minerals. Also the Lando comic series (I’ll be talking more about this soon!) starts with Lando acquiring a certain trinket to pay off a debt, only to have the term familiarly “altered” at the last minute. Let’s keep Lando out in front of some of the Galaxy’s most magnificent schemes, and maintaining his winning smile when the dust settles from the eventual crash.

Black Sun and Prince Xizor

In the late 90’s, Lucasfilm was looking thinking about releasing new Star Wars films into the world. There were ideas floating around, but the Prequels were still a few years off. The media company had formed many relationships in the nearly two decades since the Original Trilogy, but questions were being asked how these various media entities could work around a single big release. Could they work in conjunction to release materials in multiple formats that would compliment each other and continue to build on the Star Wars fan base? The answer to those questions was the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project.

It started as an experiment to see if Lucasfilm and its partners were ready for a major motion picture release. For the first time, we as fans received new stories that explored the period between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. We were introduced to new heroes and new villains. Among those were the Black Sun crime syndicate and its indomitable leader, Prince Xizor.

Black Sun exists within the current canon. They were a faction with Darth Maul’s Shadow Collective, but I feel like they lack some of the teeth they had when introduced through Shadows of the Empire. Perhaps that has to do with the enigmatic, over the top Prince Xizor. Xizor was written to be the ultimate badass. And while I don’t think the canon needs a character exactly like him (pure evil complete with rapey seduction pheromones), a powerful crime lord that rivals the Hutts and is confident enough to scheme around the Emperor would be a very cool addition.

The Courtship of Princess Leia

The Courtship of Princess Leia was the first EU novel I read as teenager. The story of a lovesick Han Solo essentially kidnapping Leia, to woo her on a planet he won in an underground sabacc game. A planet that just happens to be home to rancors and a lost race of “magical” force users that leads to squaring off against the strongest of the Imperial Remnant, Warlord Zsinj. All the while Han is pursued by Luke and the jilted Prince Isolder attempting to prevent civil war within the fledgling New Republic.

It was truly a soap opera in space writ large, and I devoured it as a young Star Wars fan. Courtship was a fun, fast read. It had its flaws and these days doesn’t rank quite as high among my favorite EU novels, but it was really my first big introduction to the EU and for that it will always be adored.

What I would love to keep from The Courtship of Princess Leia is that it is going to take a big, raucous adventure, and maybe risking everything our heroes have fought to build, for Han to admit his feelings and decide to ask Leia to marry him. Because one thing about Han Solo, and this has been established in the canon, its going to take an awful lot for him to consider family life. You know.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Chiss.

You knew he would make the list. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the most enduring elements of the EU. Timothy Zahn’s seminal trilogy elevated the Expanded Universe. No small part of that was due to the strength of Thrawn as such a fascinating character. He was a brilliant strategist and a blue skinned alien that had risen to Grand Admiral in the notoriously xenophobic Empire. Next to perhaps the reborn Emperor, Thrawn was the Empire’s best chance at reestablishing its former glory.

With the First Order’s clear similarities to the Empire, it seems obvious that the Imperial Remnant didn’t fade away after the events Return of the Jedi. Having a strong, brilliant presence similar to Grand Admiral Thrawn would go a long way to explaining the Empire’s continued influence 30 years later.

If that character were to have ties to a mysterious faction in the Outer Rim that has its eyes set upon extending its dominance into the Core Worlds, that would add even more intrigue. The Chiss Ascendancy would be a fascinating foil to both the plans of the Alliance and Empire.

Add to that the fact that Luke, Leia, and Han appear to have a less influential roles in the Galaxy after Ben Solo’s betrayal, and threats from the Imperial Remnants and the Chiss would require a new set of heroes to face them. Some of those heroes could be members of…

Rogue Squadron

Talk to me about Star Wars fandom, and it won’t take long for me to reveal my love for Rogue Squadron. I’ve said before that Wedge Antilles is possibly my favorite character. He certainly is outside of the Original Trilogy’s main heroes. In my late teens and early twenties, I just could not get enough of these scrappy men and women who accomplished the impossible without any Force to aid them (mostly). They relied solely on their Incom T-65 X-wings, their exceptional skill on the stick, and each other. Corran Horn said it best, “I’m with Rogue Squadron. Impossible is our stock in trade, and success is what we deliver.”

Rogue Squadron does exist in the current canon. Technically. It was the designation used by Luke and Wedge’s snowspeeder group on Hoth. I’m going to be watching the development of Rogue One very closely. I hope the use of the moniker there can somehow develop into a collection of the Rebellion’s best fighter pilots. I also like what I’ve seen of Black Squadron in the Poe Dameron comic series, but it’s not quite the same to me. I’m really hoping for a Star Wars universe that includes the Rogues.

What about you? What from the Expanded Universe would you like to see make the jump to Disney’s current canon at least conceptually?

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Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #77 (and some Legos)

boba han solo hold

Funny I get this scene right after I write my little character analysis on Lando.  Here’s Leia and Chewie, totally trusting Lando a little too soon for my liking.  However, upon further reflection, I kind of get why they trusted him at this point because it was out of necessity more than anything.  They needed to rescue Han and for that, they needed Lando and his knowledge of Cloud City.

At this point in the movie, the Empire has struck back.  I remember the first time I saw this and I kept waiting for everything to turn out okay.  I mean, of course the movie would end with it all working out somehow.  Right?  And then it…ENDED.  How could they do that?  Han is still trapped in carbonite and far away from the Rebels!  Thank God I was able to throw in the next movie and not wait 3 years.  I really feel horrible for you guys that had to do that.

chasing after han solo cloud city

But, oh, maybe we should talk about Boba Fett?  This may be the first time I have gotten any scene that involves Boba during my Scene it on Friday’s.   Now I’m one of the few people in this world who does not get the appeal of the Fettster.  I think I’ve written about this before (somewhere in the past 2.5 years) but what I’ve learned from other fans is that the appeal comes from the mystery surrounding him.  When ESB came out, he was new character thrown into the mix and incredibly badass.  Where did he come from?  What did Vader mean when he said “No disintegrations”?  Who had Fett disintegrated previously?

But now we know a lot about his character – so why is he still so loved?  Is it because his character spawned cult-like worshippers and it just gained momentum since 1980?  I mean, he had a really lame death in ROTJ, as much as people tried to rectify that in the EU.  Since the EU is scratched now, Boba Fett is back to being dead, which gives me a strange sort of smirky happiness.  But don’t worry all you Fett diehards, I’m SURE he will get a standalone movie…and sometime soon too.  I bet money on that it will be one of the first made.  And I actually want to see it because since the EU has been scrapped, it will be a whole new story.  Maybe they’ll go into how flying in a jetpack was never a strength of his. 😉

Lastly, I think one of the reasons the OT is so well loved over the Prequels, is the dialogue.  It is witty, human, and in moments of tense situations – we get the comic relief from someone like Threepio.  This is displayed so perfectly in this scene.  In the beginning, we see our hopes crushed as one of our favorite characters is stored securely by a notorious bounty hunter.  We fear our Rebels will be too late in the rescue.  And then out of nowhere comes Artoo to join in the chase and with Threepio being reunited with his favorite astromech, the humor in Theepio’s statements are much needed.  Especially after an awkward dinner, torture, admissions of love, and carbonite freezing…yeah, I would say we need some humor.

[Changes in this scene compared to the movie: Boba does not climb aboard a ladder next to the cargo hold.]

 

Cool behind the scenes photo I've never seen! Must have been getting Threepio to move his arms and head.

Cool behind the scenes photo I’ve never seen! Must have been getting Threepio to move his arms and head.

And now for some fun Star Wars quests of my own!  Legoland Boston had a Star Wars exhibit this past week.  Though not as awesome as I was expecting, I did have a lot of fun.  There were a few 501st members on hand, and I’ve never been to Legoland Boston so it was cool to see a whole room with Boston locations and history made out of Legos.  I wish they had put the Star Wars displays separate, but instead they combined them into the city.  I thought it was interesting, but a little distracting and easy to miss.  But they did have cool life-size Star Wars Lego pieces made out of Lego.  I’ve never been into Lego’s but I do appreciate the people who work so hard and craft these amazing works of art.  Plus, it reminded me of the Lego Movie which was AMAZING (seriously, if you haven’t seen it already, go.  Now.  I’ve seen it twice and could see it a third time).

Anyway, Star Wars quests are always a success, just because it has to do with Star Wars.  So I share my photos with other fans.  EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

 

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EXTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — EAST LANDING PLATFORM — BOBA FETT’S SHIP

The two guards slide Han’s encased body into an opening in the side of the bounty hunter’s ship. Boba Fett climb aboard on a ladder next to the cargo hold.

BOBA FETT: Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold.

And with that, the door slams shut.

INTERIOR/EXTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — BALCONY

Lando, Leia, and Chewie run on a long balcony overlooking the city, when suddenly they spot Artoo who rushes toward them, beeping wildly.

THREEPIO: Artoo! Artoo! Where have you been?

Chewie turns around to see the stubby droid, causing Threepio to be spun out of sight of his friend.

THREEPIO: Turn around, you wooly…! (to Artoo) Hurry, hurry! We’re trying to save Han from the bounty hunter!

Whistling frantically to Threepio, Artoo scoots along with the racing group.

THREEPIO: Well, at least you’re still in one piece! Look what happened to me!

Lando: The Old Smoothie

I haven’t written much about Lando Calrissian…mostly because I don’t like him.  I don’t like that he turned Han over to the Empire and even though he redeemed himself pretty fast, I still never had strong feelings for him.  I don’t know – I just got scumbag vibes from Lando and could never relate to him.

But this past weekend’s painting in my 365 day calendar made me rethink some of what I previously thought.

Lando Calrissian getting strangled by Vader

When Vader is revealed to the Rebels at Cloud City, Lando says to Han, “I had no choice.  They arrived right before you did.  I’m sorry.”  I always got so angry at him when he said that because, in my naïve way of thinking, I thought that everyone always has a choice.  Which, essentially, is true but it’s not that simple.

I realize now that sometimes your choice is life or you-better-do-what-they-want-or-you-might-be-killed.  What kind of choice is that?  How hard is it to stand up for what you believe is right?  Would I have the guts to do it?  Would you have the guts to do it?  Look at Malala.  Someone so young stood up for something she believes in, even after the local Taliban Leader (the Empire) said all female education had to cease.  Youth may make you invincible, but I still think that if I was threatened at that age, I would shut the hell up and not say a word.

I admire people like Malala, the Luke Skywalker’s in real life…and it’s probably because I may not have that heroic streak in me.  I’m a very by-the-books person and I’m beginning to relate to Lando.

Looking at this picture, I see that maybe he didn’t have a choice.  Vader wants Luke and Fett wants Han.  Vader agreed that in getting Luke, he would leave Cloud City and the Tibanna operations alone forever.  Is that such a hard deal to agree to?  Even when someone is strangling you?

On top of that, Lando had slowly begun to give up his scoundrel ways and had become a somewhat respected administrator of Cloud City.  He also had to think about his people when making a large decision and keeping the Empire out of their hair was probably the best choice for everyone.

Further, were Han and Lando really that close?  The movies lead us lando and han soloto believe that there is little trust between them to begin with and they know each other from their shady, dishonest pasts.   So there would be little love lost in turning him into the Empire.  Sure, he was a friend once, but a close one?  Maybe not.

Yes, his feelings could have changed a little once he saw he had a girlfriend and Chewie was still with him, but he probably thought Vader would stick to his deal.  And the deal was worth it to him.

The funny thing about all this is that what angers Lando is not so much how they treat Han, even though that is a byproduct, but the fact that the Empire “alters” the deal they had with him. “This deal’s getting worse all the time,” is one of his famous lines.

lando turning on the empireAt what point did Lando crack?  At what point did his anger and frustration with the Empire make him realize that even the original deal had not been worth it?  He contacts Lobot when Luke appears – but was it building up and that was a good time to turn coat?  Or did the appearance of Luke make him question the deal?

If we look closer at Lando’s transition into the Rebellion, we notice he never agreed to join the Rebellion right away.  He agrees to help save Han from Jabba the Hutt.  (By the way, does anyone else think it’s weird how easily Han accepts him in ROTJ?  Dude, last time you saw him, he had betrayed you and frozen you in carbonite!)  Then after saving Han, he transitions into becoming a General in Rebellion.

In the end, Lando plays a crucial role in helping the Rebellion defeat the Empire but I’m much more sympathetic to his character now than I was a week ago.  I still have hesitations and disbeliefs in terms of how quickly the Rebellion accepted him, but I understand why he turned over Han to Boba and the Empire.  And, it almost saddens me to say this, I’m not sure I would have done anything differently.

general lando

Scene it on Friday – ROTJ Scene #26

Han looks at falcon

Aw, I’m so glad after a few weeks of disappointing scenes, I get a scene I really, really love.

One thing that struck me when I was reading it this time around was the emotional element to this scene.  I mean, this is the BIG ONE.  This is the big battle that the Rebels are going into, knowing they have a chance to rid the galaxy of the Emperor once and for all.  Most (if not all, but I don’t know the details on that) of the Rebels are participating in this fight and most know they could very well die out there.  It’s the calm before the storm and this scene really feels like it.  Marquand did a good job with setting the tone.

So that could be why Han is giving Lando a hard time about the Falcon.  Maybe he’s just worried about his friend as well but doesn’t know how to express it.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely worried about the Falcon, but maybe he’s also asking Lando to not get one scratch?

Giving Lando the Falcon is a big move on Han’s part, as he hasn’t had much time to recover from Lando turning him into the Empire at the end of ESB.  Truthfully, I have no idea how much time has passed when Luke was on Dagobah, but it doesn’t look like very long.  So Han helped Lando out when he could barely see him on Tatooine, and now is letting him take the Falcon into battle.  I don’t know if I’d trust Lando that much when the memory of his betrayal is still burning in the back of my mind.

This is also the scene that spawned the urban myth that Lando and Falcon were supposed to die in the Death Star.  I seriously thought for a long time that this was real, but after doing research on it for my latest WhatCulture article, I found that there is no hard evidence for this.  This website provides great research on the rumor, and an excerpt from the official Star Wars website back in 2000.  It says that perhaps the idea could have been thrown around in “undocumented” brainstorming sessions, but that’s about it.

Also – there are two lines here that were cut out for the final film.  That little dialogue between Han and Luke wasn’t in there.  And, now that you read it, doesn’t it sound so…dirty?  LOL.  Sorry, but taken out of context, it really sounds not right.

Looking at this scene, what possessed them to take Artoo and Threepio?  How could they be of any help?  I mean, I know they end up being a huge amount of help, but taking this scene as a present moment, whhhhy?  They both don’t blend with the forest very well, but at least Artoo is as large as the ferns so can remain hidden and could be a great help at the shield generator with any technical issues.  But Threepio?  I guess to translate what Artoo says… My bet is that no one wanted to take them, so they got stuck with Luke by default since he kind of owns them, haha.

han solo not one scratch

INTERIOR: HEADQUARTERS FRIGATE – MAIN DOCKING BAY

The Millennium Falcon rests beyond the stolen IMPERIAL SHUTTLE, which looks anomalous among all the Rebel ships in the vast docking bay. Chewie barks a final farewell to Lando and leads Artoo and Threepio up the shuttle, crowded now with the Rebel strike team loading weapons and supplies. Lando turns to face Han. Luke and Leia have said their good-byes and start up the ramp.

HAN: Look. I want you to take her. I mean it. Take her. You need all the help you can get. She’s the fastest ship in the fleet.

LANDO: All right, old buddy. You know, I know what she means to you. I’ll take good care of her. She-she won’t get a scratch. All right?

HAN: (looks at him warmly) Right. I got your promise now. Not a scratch.

LANDO: Look, would you get going, you pirate.

Han and Lando pause, then exchange salutes.

LANDO: Good luck.

HAN: You, too.

Han goes up the ramp. Lando watches him go and then slowly turns away.

INTERIOR: IMPERIAL SHUTTLE – COCKPIT

Luke is working on a back control panel as Han comes in and takes the pilot’s seat. Chewie, in the seat next to him, is trying to figure out all the Imperial controls.

HAN: You got her warmed?

LUKE: Yeah, she’s comin’ up.

Chewie growls a complaint.

HAN: No. I don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her, Chewie.

Leia comes in from the hold and takes her seat near Luke.  Chewie barks and hits some switches. Han’s glance has stuck on something out the window: the Millennium Falcon. Leia nudges him gently.

LEIA: Hey, are you awake?

HAN: Yeah, I just got a funny feeling. Like I’m not gonna see her again.

Chewie, hearing this, stops his activity and looks longingly out at the Falcon, too. Leia puts a hand on Han’s shoulder.

LEIA: (softly) Come on, General, let’s move.

Han snaps back to life.

HAN: Right. Chewie, let’s see what this piece of junk can do. Ready, everybody?

LUKE: All set.

THREEPIO: Here we go again.

HAN: All right, hang on.

EXTERIOR: SPACE – THE REBEL FLEET

The stolen Imperial shuttle leaves the main docking bay of the Headquarters Frigate, lowers its wings into flight position, and zooms off into space.