By Hannah Tatar
I am a self-proclaimed “EU Baby.” An older Millennial whose Star Wars fandom was nurtured in the chapters of Expanded Universe novels, such as Heir to the Empire and The Courtship of Princess Leia. Due to this fact, I struggle to identify with the Disney Canon as a fan, feeling disappointed in story arcs and nostalgic for the Star Wars stories that made up my teenage years. Upon the release of The Force Awakens and the ensuing arrival of The Last Jedi, I am anxious and excited about where Disney is going to take my Star Wars and as time progresses, I see more and more of the EU showing up in unexpected ways.
Have you ever watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The antagonist, Judge Doom has a great line where he says “I bought the Red Car so I could dismantle it.” Disney has done the same with the EU. They have legendized (new word) the EU so that they could dismantle it, pulling the best parts out for the new canon and leaving behind what doesn’t fit. It looks similar to the EU, but fancier packaging. A nose job.
This is most apparent to me when I re-read Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, which is eerily similar to The Force Awakens in countless ways, but let me point a few of the major ones to make my point.
At the start of The Jedi Academy Trilogy (JAT), Luke begins a Jedi academy. Predictable right? But it’s true. In JAT, Luke begins a school for the Jedi on Yavin 4, hunting for gifted students with Force abilities that want to come study under the last known Jedi Knight. As Luke’s students train, they encounter the disembodied spirit of Exar Kun, a Sith Lord, essentially trapped within the temples of Yavin, who lures some of them to the Dark Side with the promise of power and the Dark Side. When a few of the students die from their interactions with Kun, Luke faces off against this force of evil on his own, only to have his soul trapped outside of his body and his very presence gone from those who need him most, including his sister, his niece and nephew and his students. The other story intermingled is that of Kyp Durron, a young man with a chip on his shoulder and obvious Force abilities. Kyp is tempted by the Dark Side, and it is he, with the help of Exar Kun, who forces Luke into a state of body/soul separation. In the end, Kyp is redeemed through his relationship with Han Solo, to whom he views as a father figure, and helps to destroy a super weapon known as the Sun Crusher.
Exar Kun and Snoke share similar roles, disembodied Dark Side users who tempt the students of Luke, as well as the reason for Luke’s “disappearance” from those he loves. In JAT, Exar Kun uses Kyp to force Luke into a state of repose, where he cannot aid those around him and is cut off everyone. In TFA, Snoke uses Ben and the fall of Luke’s academy to force Luke into hiding where he also lives, but is completely separated from those who need him as well as those he loves.
Ben and Kyp also share similar roles as the pawns of evil. Both claiming a “Father/Son” relationship with Han Solo, Kyp almost kills Han, but is redeemed by his love for him, while on the other side, Ben succeeds in killing Han, making his fall seem even more inevitable and complete.
Even the super weapons share similarities, Sun Crusher vs. Starkiller Base, one a ship that would cause a star to go super nova, the other a mobile planet which consumed the power of a star, leaving a dead solar system in its wake. Both were destroyed with the help of Han Solo, both born out of research which originated with the Galactic Empire.
If you haven’t read The Jedi Academy Trilogy, I highly recommend you spend the time. I revisited the trilogy after watching TFA and it is one of my favorite stories in the Expanded Universe. With the presence of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars: Rebels, as well as other projects Disney has in the works, it will not surprise me to see more EU story lines that we EU babies know and love, given a nose job and sent back out for a new generation of fan.