Noun. Writings not forming part of the accepted canon, usually in reference to
canon. Taken from the latin phrase ‘Aprocrypha Scripta’, or
Star Wars. It’s
literally everywhere. It’s not simply a movie, it’s a cultural
phenomenon. Four decades later and the franchise has spawned Nine
live-action feature films with five more announced to be in
production, two more rumored to be in production, an animated movie,
six animated series, 378 novels, of which only 64 are within the
modern Star Wars Canon, thousands of comics and an unspeakable amount
of action figures, plastic model kits, coffee makers, toasters, tea
pots, french press sets and other various home decorations that range
from basic posters to custom art prints like this one we bought for
my dad during Star Wars Weekends from the Acme archives.
The point here is that Star Wars is a massive universe with over 40 years of legacy. And with 40 years of legacy from a multitude of creators comes the issue of contradiction.
When Lucasfilm Ltd. was purchased by The Walt Disney Company that fateful day of December 21st, 2012 and announced that they would be making new Star Wars movies to take place after Episode VI, the question of the day was what would become of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. For over 35 years, anyone whose name was not George Lucas created their work in this sandbox that existed as a lower level of canonicity. A sort of Apocrypha to borrow a biblical term. With novels that stretched well into a century after the events of Episode VI, interpretations of cultures that directly contradicted the movies and Clone Wars television series, and no real way to give authors authority over others not named George Lucas, the Expanded Universe was rebranded as Star Wars Legends and can now be treated as another world away from the mainline Star Wars saga, forever lost to time… Sort of.
See the problem with nuking an entire line of best-selling novels, comic books, TV shows and video games that have perpetuated for 35 years is that a lot of people read, played and watched those stories. And for some of them, they may have even liked those stories more than the ones told on the big screen. For some Star Wars fans, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Darth Revan and Kyle Katarn are just as synonymous with Star Wars as Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.
While a small group of the fandom has been vocal about their disapproval of this decision, fans have by and large embraced this decision, understanding the need to clean the slate to ensure that creators can tell the best stories they can without years of contradicting continuity to trip over, as well as the added benefit of providing new fans a more approachable universe to immerse themselves in.
It’s not like this is the first time it’s been done; Lucasfilm did their own house cleaning back in the early 90’s in preparation for the Prequel trilogy. More importantly, the Lucasfilm story team is acutely aware of the popularity of these characters and their creators, as seen with the incorporation of Grand Admiral Thrawn into the Canon timeline with his debut in Star Wars Rebels and the Thrawn novel written by his creator Timothy Zahn.
This leads us to the purpose and scope of this project I’m calling ‘Star Wars Apocrypha’. As you can tell, I’ve become very attached to this term far more than the official Legends designation because I feel that it’s a more accurate label due to the fact that these works were at one time canon and were only struck from it upon reexamination. And also because of the borderline religious nature of the continuity obsession that the removal of these texts has caused in the greater community. But much like the name suggests, these stories are in the process of becoming hidden writings, soon to be lost to time as they are overshadowed by the new stories that are slowly filling up the new canon. While I enjoy a good deal of them, there are many stories that are as strong if not stronger in the Legends continuity that I feel ought to be remembered as such. At the same time, I also want it to serve as a reminder that not everything in the Legends universe is as great as we remember it, because as high as the highs were, the lows were even lower.
With that in mind, my goal is to try to cover the books, games, television shows, and whatever other kind of Star Wars story content that existed prior to the reboot of the franchise. In addition to focusing on the narrative part of these stories, I will try to also go over things such as behind-the-scenes insights and things like the old continuity structure, as I feel that these elements are just as much a part of the Legends narrative as the stories themselves.
Because I’m doing this project here in my RT Journal section, I want to also add an interactive element to this, so if there is a particular part of the Star Wars universe you want me to cover, please feel free to pop a suggestion in the comment section and I will place it in the queue of things to cover. While there will be times that I will be intentionally focusing on certain characters at certain times of year (Eg. covering Han Solo in the lead-up towards Solo: A Star Wars Story), for the most part I will try to keep the content varied to prevent any burnout on my part or yours. The Star Wars galaxy is a rather large place with many corners all its own after all!
With that in mind, I have four ideas on where to start, so I want to give you all the power to decide immediately! Our first true chapter in the Star Wars Apocrypha will be, based on your feedback, A) Heir to the Empire and the birth of the modern Star Wars Expanded Universe, B) Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Life before the EU, C) West End Games Star Wars – The RPG that Defined a Universe, or D) Canon Levels – Understanding Legends Continuity. I should hopefully have something done by either the end of the week or start of next, depending on how things work out scheduling-wise. I’m intentionally holding off a bit on the video games due to how long it’ll take to mow through some of them, particularly those attached to multi-media projects (Shadows of the Empire, I’m looking at you buddy) or would require multiple playthroughs for a proper write-up (KotOR), but rest assured I have many plans on how to best tackle them. Until next time guys!