To a certain extent, I almost feel bad for JJ Abrams and the rest of the team working on Star Wars episode VII. The Star Wars galaxy is so vast that they simply cannot tell the all of the stories that happen within that universe, and that would certainly anger fans. On the other hand, they could just ignore the Expanded Universe (EU), in favor of an entirely new direction. While I would be alright with that, it would anger me to some extent, and I know for sure that it will alienate a huge portion of the fanbase. They’ll still go see the movie, but many fans of the EU will find themselves leaving a little disappointed if the EU was ignored.
Luckily, according to the recent rumors (that actually seem pretty rooted in fact), it looks as though the EU will be utilized in the story of Episode VII. Obviously, we won’t know anything or sure until we actually see the movie, but it looks like they’ve decided to use pre existing characters, namely e Solo twins. Now, I really love the Legacy of the Force novels, at least most of them. Like most Star Wars EU series, it did that weird thing where there were three or our authors, so that hindered the overall story, but, in the end, the series turned out really well.
For those who don’t know, the Legacy of the Force novels (Betrayal, Bloodlines, Tempest, Exile, Sacrifice, Inferno, Fury, Revelation, and Invincible) focus mainly occur (roughly) 40 years after A New Hope, and focus mainly on the next generation of Jedi, namely Ben Skywalker and Jaina and Jacen Solo, who are now adults. All the big characters (save Chewbacca) are around, and play key roles as well. However, this is very much centered around Jacen Solo’s fall to the Dark Side of the Force, and his evolution into Darth Caedus, as well as the tragic story of his sister Jaina, as she slowly comes to the realization that she will have to kill him.
It’s a pretty great story, and spans a long range of time. However, as much as I love it, it’s not a great place to start off the next trilogy of Star Wars movies. Unless they’re rearranging the order of events, it would make more sense to start with the Yuuzhan Vong War, or even before that. My reasons? Well, Jacen’s voyage to the Dark Side starts long before the Legacy of the Force books. Like many, I feel that it started in the New Jedi Order novel “Traitor”, which chronicles Jacen’s time as a prisoner of the Yuuzhan Vong, in which he encounters Vergere. Vergere is (arguably) a Sith, and her presence, coupled with the relentless physical torture he endured, began his fall to the Dark Side.
However, as important as this is, it’s really nothing more than a catalyst. It’s important, but so is the rest of the Yuuzhan Vong war. A lot of his friends died in that war. His younger brother, Anakin Solo, was killed, as were Chewbacca, Vergere, and Ganner Rhysode, all people he was close with. However, unlike the rest of his Jedi friends, he didn’t get a chance to deal with the aftereffects of the Jedi’s assault on the Voxyn breeding grounds. He watched his friends get tortured, and then watched his brother, as well as a few other Jedi, die. Then, he was captured, and therefore, wasn’t able to deal with the fallout of that mission. This is important because it lays the groundwork for the Legacy of the Force books.
Sure, the film makers could spin his fall as the result of his vision of the dark man on a throne with Allana at his side, which is probably the biggest catalyst, but without that groundwork, it will end up feeling forced and unnatural. Say what you will about Hayden Christenson’s performance as Anakin Skywalker, but we were able to sufficiently follow his fall to the Dark Side in the prequel trilogy. This justified the fall, and made it feel natural, even if his acting was anything but natural.
I would enjoy seeing them do this plot, but it needs time to develop. We need to get to know these characters before they start falling to the Dark Side. Yes, I have an emotional attachment to the characters, as do many other EU fans, but the rest of the audience won’t have that connection to them, and that would be a problem for many Star Wars fans. I would love to see them do this story eventually, but they can’t lead with it, and even if the do make it work, it won’t fulfill the potential that it has.
Then, there is also the issue of the plot of the original trilogy being retreaded, and least to an extent. We’ve already seen the fall of one young Jedi before, we don’t necessarily need to see it again. Yes, with Jacen’s story, there would be vas differences. It’s the same, but with a few added twists that weren’t present in the prequel trilogy. These differences are mostly driven by how very different the galaxy is, as well as the new characters that inhabit the world. There is a similar sort of forbidden love to it as well (between Jacen and Tenel Ka) which is very similar to Padme and Anakin’s relationship. That said, it’s a different type of relationship, mainly because it’s fairly open among the Jedi and their allies, and then there’s the small matter of Allana.
I’m not really all that worried about it doing a story we’ve already seen before. The lore is far too different from that of the prequel trilogy for the two stories to be all that similar. There’s a much larger family dynamic at play here, and there’s more of a cloak and dagger feel to it. Plus, it has all kinds of side plots (like Ben Skywalker’s and Boba Fett’s) that would allow the next trilogy to tread new ground with a fairly similar story. That said, I feel like, if this is the plot line they pursue, it will end up feeling a bit like Star Trek: Into Darkness, with a bunch of unearned moments running rampant, and a large portion of the audience either not understanding the plot, or failing to connect with any of the characters on a personal level. There are so many other avenues to explore in the EU, so there’s really not much of a reason to go this far in the story anyways.