The Star Wars Expanded Universe has been around since the very first movie in 1977, providing exhaustive and expansive material to fill out the galaxy far, far away both with new characters and new adventures for the existing ones.
From stories that appeared in the accompanying comic series, countless novels all the way up to and including spin-off TV series like Droids and the popular Clone Wars and Rebels.
However, when Disney bought up Lucasfilm in 2012, it spelled the end for the Expanded Universe…and now it’s emerged exactly which story sealed its fate, ensuring that it was scrapped from the Star Wars canon as it forged ahead with the new movies.
Speaking to Syfy’s Fandom Files podcast, Leland Chee – who officially presided over the Expanded Universe for Lucasfilm, chronicling all its stories and spin-offs – revealed that it was down to a plot in the 1999 novel “Vector Prime” by R.A. Salvatore.
In the book, Chewbacca sacrificed his life in order to save that of Han Solo and Princess Leia’s youngest son, Anakin Solo. Oddly, however, his death wasn’t at the hands of a blaster or a lightsaber… he was crushed by a moon.
Chee said, “For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends – a big moon had fallen on him.
“Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody and it was Chewbacca.
“But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an Episode VII that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head.
“And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison.”
Possibly the first biggest change in Star Wars canon could be coming in the imminent Solo: A Star Wars Story, due on May 25th. A recent announcement by Disney/Lucasfilm suggested the new spin-off movie would show how the galaxy’s favourite Wookie and number one smuggler first met.
“Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.”
In the now-discarded Star Wars Expanded Universe, the first meeting between Solo and Chewbacca was revealed in the 2000 comic book miniseries “Star Wars: Chewbacca” and involved a complicated backstory in which Solo was an Imperial officer who saved Chewbacca’s life twice when he was interrupted in the midst of an attempt to free Wookiee slaves from the Empire. As a result, the two formed a bond that only grew when Solo left the Imperial service.
Whether or not the plot of the movie will echo the earlier comic book storyline is unclear…and probably unlikely. So far, Han Solo’s past pre-A New Hope is a clean slate. Chewbacca does however appear in Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005) alongside Yoda on the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk.
On a similar note, Kevin Smith has posed an intriguing concept of a “character death” in the next installment. On his Fatman on Batman podcast, he said, “I think it’s the Falcon. That would really rip all of our hearts out.
“And, at the same time, legacy cast is gone, maybe they don’t necessarily – if it’s a big enough story beat, I bet you that’s what goes.”
The next, as yet untitled, Star Wars movie is slated for December 20, 2019. Meanwhile, everyone is hoping we’ll get our first trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story during the Super Bowl on 4th February, more than likely during the coveted half-time slot, where global television audiences can reach tens of millions.
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