“The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost.” — Lord of the Rings
There were tears when the EU became “Legends”, but was everything really lost?
When the original Star Wars Expanded Universe was retired to make way for Disney’s chance to tell stories it lead to a lot of discussion about whether the slate had been totally wiped clean or if we would see pieces transfer over. Last year we saw iconic villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn, scooped up and dropped into Rebels. Disney appears to be making an effort to pay respect to the legacy of this character since they gave his new origins novel to his creator, Timothy Zahn. Even prior to this, we’ve even seen strange ‘maybe canon’ moments like Darth Bane’s ghost/illusion speaking to Yoda in Clone Wars.
However, pulling over a full character like Thrawn is going to be a rare occurrence. Most of the time we are probably going to see characters like Kylo Ren, who appears to be heavily inspired by a few of the original Skywalker and Solo children. Mostly notably, Jacen Solo, who fell to the dark side in the Legacy of the Force series and became Darth Cadeus. Even George Lucas wasn’t immune to its influence, taking on Timothy Zahn’s name of ‘Coruscant’ for the Imperial capital. Disney might be telling their own stories, but they don’t seem to mind letting “Legends” leave its fingerprints all over the new era of Star Wars stories.
The main protagonists from Rogue One, Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, seem to have their own “Legends” flavor. When it came to stealing the plans to the first Death Star, the original EU made it seem like half the galaxy had a hand in stealing them. This issue was later retconned to everyone having stolen pieces that the Alliance was later able to put together. One such person who had a hand in stealing the plans was Kyle Katarn, who first appeared in the 1995 hit game Dark Forces. Kyle’s father was murdered for having information the Empire wanted, and though he spent a long time angry with the Alliance he eventually found his way to them and his long time comrade, Jan Ors. A legendary agent for the rebellion, she excelled in sabotage and intelligence operations. Ors, dedicated as she was to the cause, even dispatched inept Alliance agents to maintain her cover.
While they’re not the same characters, there are some broad stroke comparisons that can be made between Jyn and Katarn. With several decades of “Legends” canon, even a writer who never saw so much as a cover might accidentally draw a connection. If a fan wants to see a connection or reference they will.
As far as connections being made, fans drawing connections from the new EU to the old could be compared to when Lucas released the special editions back in 1997. Some people were really upset because this was not the Star Wars they had grown up with. They didn’t like the changes, to this day fans will react like a rancor on a rampage if you bring up the ‘Han Shot First’ fiasco. However, the special editions were closer to what Lucas wanted to do but couldn’t due to budget and technological limits. The special editions were now official. For some fans, who grew up in the quiet years of Star Wars, before the prequels, when the only new stories were in book form there is a strong sense of loss for a lot of them. These new characters and new stories, they may like them, but they aren’t what they grew up with. Those stories are older and even though they may embrace the Disney-era, it’s still sad to know something they loved so much is over and without any real farewell.
So any connection, however out of left field it may seem, can seem like the ghost of the original EU speaking. Jan Ors can be visited in games and books, but seeing her ghost in Cassian Andor can return that childhood rush to some. It’s why some fans lost their mind over Thrawn. It’s why some hope that maybe, just maybe, Luke will have a line saying, “Her name was Mara.”
Nostalgia goes a long way for putting smiles on our faces. During my first showing of Rogue One, the name of a certain something was dropped and I leaned over to my companion:
“Was that a Darksaber reference?” I whispered.
“God, I hope not,” he muttered back.
It’s more likely a reference to the black-bladed weapon stolen by the Mandalorians than the Kevin J. Anderson book, Darksaber, but hey, you never know.