December 8, 2023

Delve into what really matters in the debate between Star Wars Canon and Legends.


The year was 1994. The Phantom Menace was five years away and we didn’t even have the Star Wars Special Editions yet. I was about 4 years old when Return of the Jedi was released and I had been a huge fan of the saga ever since. As a Star Wars fan and a true lover of the stories, the best word to describe me at this point in time was “lonely.” It had been years since I read a new story within which I could totally immerse myself. And then I picked up Dark Horse Comics’ Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith….

It knocked my socks off!

I got to read about Ulic Qel-Droma, Nomri Sunrider, Freedon Nadd, Naga Sadow and Exar Kun! It had new places I had never seen before like Onderon and Korriban. Best of all, I got to see the Force being used in ways I had not even imagined! I fell in love with Star Wars all over again.

From that point on, I tried to read every novel and every comic book that I could get my hands on. I loved the X-Wing series, especially Baron Soontir Fel. Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire were unbelievably amazing. Stories from the Old Republic greatly intrigued me. Even “throwaway” stories like Death Troopers I found wildly entertaining. And of course you know of, well some could call it my obsession with Darth Plagueis….

And in a moment it was all gone. Poof! My whole universe…was gone.

In October of 2012, Disney announced that it was buying the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for the low, low price of $4 billion dollars. In 2014, Disney announced that all previous material with the exception of the movies and the cartoon Clone Wars — what we referred to as the Expanded Universe or EU — would now be known as Legends. For all intents and purposes, they no longer “counted.” (In other words, I wasted a whole lot of time in the previous years….)

I had a couple initial thoughts when this happened. The first was that I truly thought it was slick that Disney classified them as “legends,” meaning perhaps they did happen, perhaps they didn’t, just like the legend of King Arthur. Ahsoka said it best: “There’s always a bit of truth in legends.” The second thought was more of a mission: I was going to read and watch 100% of all canon material that was released. (For the record, I’m somewhere in the 90th percentile towards this goal, so I feel pretty accomplished.)

As time went on, this whole concept of Canon versus Legends began to grate at me. I became oddly obsessed with it. When someone would mention Mara Jade, the Emperor’s clones, or the Yuuzhan Vong, I would snidely reply, “Ha! That doesn’t count anymore!” I couldn’t understand why it mattered so much to me. Did knowing all the canon material somehow make me superior as a Star Wars fan? Was I secretly bitter that part of me still believed that Disney had betrayed me by nullifying all the stories I had loved so dearly? Obviously I wasn’t the only person that took part in this debate. Just Google “Star Wars canon versus legends” and look at how many videos, editorials and threads pop up. Some want certain books to be introduced into canon. Some want the entire EU to be accepted. Others say Canon is all that counts. And some just hate Disney for giving people like me something to write about.

So does it matter?

Officially, yes. As a self-proclaimed Star Wars historian, the canon material is technically all that counts in the storyline. But just as a lover of the saga, the characters, the philosophy, the Force — as I hope we all are, since you’re reading this — it couldn’t matter less.

I’d like to go back to the story of King Arthur. I have always loved Arthurian legends. I have an Excalibur tattoo and I get a nerdgasm every time I see Magneto reading “The Once and Future King.” If you study this legend long enough, you will realize that there are multiple stories about this (perhaps mythical) man and many of them are conflicting. Did he pull the sword from the stone, or did the Lady in the Lake — that “watery tart” — throw it at him? Was he a normal man or did he slay dragons? Did he live in 300 A.D. or 1200 A.D.?

Did he even exist at all?

Do you see my point? It doesn’t matter. All these legends, they give you something to think about, to talk about. Was that Mara Jade’s tombstone in The Force Awakens? Was Revan a master of the light side and the dark? Did Darth Plagueis use the Force to create Anakin Skywalker? (There may be another blog on that topic, if you’d like to read more.) These are all conversations we would not otherwise have if we did not have Legends.

Focus on what does matter. Universal truths. The Force is the Force. There’s light. There’s dark. Good. Evil. And that’s all from a certain point of view. Only the Sith deal in absolutes except the occasional Jedi who declares “only Sith deal in absolutes.”

All the rest of it? Just enjoy it. And as always, may the Force be with you.

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