10 Years Ago, Star Wars Changed Forever

10 Years Ago, Star Wars Changed Forever

Arguably the most important, game-changing event in the history of Star Wars storytelling happened 10 years ago today. On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars Expanded Universe was being pushed aside. All future storytelling would be part of the same, cohesive canon, and the EU stories fans knew and loved over the years would become disconnected “Legends.”

You can read the official announcement at this link, and doing so with 10 years of hindsight is kind of mind-boggling. In the decade since, Star Wars fans have been so inundated with new stories, all of which connect, we almost take for granted that Lucasfilm had to make the conscious decision to take all those previous stories, move them to the side, and clearly define that all stories moving ahead were officially part of the same world. Plus, at the same time, there’s explicit acknowledgment that elements of the EU would, could, and should be borrowed.

Two years prior to this, when news broke that Disney was buying Lucasfilm and new Star Wars movies were coming, one of the first questions fans had was “Are they just going to remake Heir to the Empire?” That’s how popular those EU stories had become. In the decades since their debut, EU stories had basically become headcanon for fans. Even though much of what was written by different authors over different mediums didn’t all 100% line up, it didn’t matter. Fans picked and chose what they wanted to believe and it was all fine. This news specifically made it clear that wasn’t going to be happening anymore. Episode VII would not be Heir to the Empire. Heir to the Empire was nothing. And yet now, 10 years later, it kind of has started to come back, with Grand Admiral Thrawn becoming the big bad in a whole other Star Wars story.

Another aspect to consider is that while this news certainly made it seem as if there was no limit to the scope of future Star Wars storytelling, most of that storytelling that’s happened so far has been largely contained. Some characters are older, some are younger, but from 2014 to now, very few stories have broken out of a roughly 100-year period of Star Wars history. That slowly started to change with The High Republic in 2021 and now, this year it’ll finally make its way to live action with The Acolyte, cementing it for everyone. But that’s a long time.

Basically, it’s taken a decade for Star Wars to break out of its mold and embrace the kind of big-swing, all-eras storytelling the EU provided decades before. That could continue further too if (and that’s a big “if” when it comes to Star Wars movies) James Mangold’s Dawn of the Jedi movie becomes a reality. It’s almost like, in the 10 years since erasing the EU, Star Wars has finally made it around to just start… redoing the EU again. (Fun side note: it was revealed in 2018 one reason all this happened was because the EU killed Chewbacca and the studio didn’t want to make a new movie without him.)

Why has it taken so long for Star Wars to consider going out of the box? Should we just be happy that it’s finally happening? You also can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Lucasfilm went the entirely opposite way. What if there was no tried and true canon? What if we just got new Star Wars stories like the EU did them? Maybe just the movies could’ve been contained? You also have to remember that, 10 years ago, Star Wars becoming a TV-forward franchise never would’ve seemed plausible, so that’s a whole other angle.

And while the discussion around Star Wars canon, the Expanded Universe, and more rages on, there is one fact we can all agree on. That discussion truly kicked into gear 10 years ago today. Where will it be 10 years from now?