Thursday, February 28, 2013

Will the Expanded Universe Influence the new Movies?

Many websites are posting their top ten Star Wars ideas for the new movies, and talking up which video game, novel or comic would make a great movie. Is there any point though? Are Lucasfilm really delving into the Expanded Universe for the new movies?

Why websites, newspapers and magazines seem to think the Expanded Universe will be the place that the writers of new Star Wars movies go to for a story is beyond me. Lucasfilm pay little regard to the Expanded Universe. They might adhere to it when it is convenient, but if it doesn’t fit with the vision of George Lucas (or where Dave Filoni wants to take a storyline) then it gets ignored. Whether I think that is right or wrong is one thing, but those who disagree are deluding themselves and will probably get a big disappointment when the new movies hit.

Firstly, it is fair to address then that the Expanded Universe is not totally ignored. George Lucas kindly stuck with the name Coruscant for the prequels, which was from the Expanded Universe. He has also mined the Expanded Universe for inspiration – throwing Aayla Secura into two of the prequels was fun for comic fans, and Lucas did it after seeing a comic cover he liked. Darth Maul’s return in The Clone Wars was inspired the comic book Visions

But although images and ideas may inspire Lucas and the team at Lucasfilm, they rarely pay attention to the story that the image came from. The Clone Wars series using characters created for the original Clone Wars stories – Assaj Ventress, for example – and then disregards the character’s original backstory. The Clone Wars completely disregarded the original timeline that the novels and comics established. Ironically, Del Rey and Dark Horse only adhered to a timeline that Lucas Licensing insisted on in the first place.

The Old Republic and The Force Unleashed, both designed as big budget money-spinners, were given a lot of latitude when it came to ignoring what had gone before and came after. The Old Republic uses a design aesthetic that casual Star Wars fans will love rather than one that segues with the Expanded Universe aesthetic of the era. The Force Unleashed told a story with such a long
time frame that it managed to confuse a good few concepts that had already been established in the Expanded Universe.

So when Michael Arndt, or Lawrence Kasdan, or whoever else gets a Star Wars writing gig sits down to pen a screenplay, it is more likely they will have a few images and maybe notes from George Lucas to start from. But certainly not full storylines, be they from comics, novels or video games, to adapt. 

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