Why does the Expanded Universe exist? What does it do? Where is it?
The Expanded Universe starts in the in between places. Plot holes. Unanswered questions. Conflicts created when the prequels and the Clone Wars era were altered….retcon, as the call it. Can the conflict be fixed? The movies let us peak through a window into another galaxy. But a window only gives a limited view no matter how clean or well shaped. But the Expanded Universe is a door you can walk to, letting you go in and breathe the air, learn about the culture while taking the hero journey right along with the characters. You are inside their head as if they are a part of you. Do you dare go along for the ride?
Here are some questions raised in the prequels:
Why was Obi-Wan so disturbed about Qui-Gon wanting to train Anakin? You’ll find the answer in Jedi Apprentice.
What was the story behind Anakin rescuing Obi-Wan from a gundark nest? You’ll find the answer in Jedi Quest.
Who was Darth Plagueis? You’ll find the answer in the aptly titled Darth Plagueis.
And here is a conflict:
Why did Obi-Wan end up looking so old with only about 20 years between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi? You’ll find the answer in Kenobi, with foreshadowing in The Clone Wars Wild Space.
It took over 20 years to build the first Death Star, why so short a time to build the second? You’ll find some of that answer in the aptly named Death Star.
Can you figure out where to find these for yourselves?
Here are some questions raised in the Original trilogy:
Why didn’t Han pay off Jabba the Hutt with his reward from destroying the Death Star?
What happened to Han on Ord Mantell?
How did the Rebels end up on Hoth?
How did Leia end up dressed as a Bounty Hunter?
From there, spring to the obvious questions (which did NOT wait for Disney)
What happened after Return of the Jedi?
How did Luke go about rediscovering things about his father and the Jedi so he could bring back the Order?
Did Han and Leia really marry and have kids and how did it change them?
What adventures do those kids have?
Then, reverting to an older age one hits the divide of “for over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and Justice in the Old Republic.” Obi-Wan said generations in A New Hope: that is far more than the thousand years Palpatine claimed existed in Attack of the Clones.
Is there an explanation?
Yes. There is. It’s called the Ruusan Reformations.
And finally and most important perhaps: what are the Jedi and Sith? How was the Order formed and where did it come from? How did the Dark Jedi end up joining with the Sith species and becoming known as Sith?
These answers exist and already existed long before Disney. Because the universe kept growing in all directions, adding new worlds, species, enemies, cultures, and even, yes, eras.
Disney made the decision to unilaterally throw out all of the previous Expanded Universe material from the canon. This includes several TV shows and movies, all of the books, comics and games. These stories comprised millennia’s worth of stories in the Star Wars Universe, as well as many, many authors and game developers hard work.
The official reason:
They claimed the Expanded Universe was too complicated and there wasn’t enough room for creative freedom. This does not work, as they’ve used some of those elements already in their Rebels TV show. The Clone Wars TV show, while considered canon, was cancelled in mid production. Many people also claimed the Expanded Universe wasn’t that good.
The unofficial reason:
Some people hated the prequels and the Clone Wars era. Personally, I have reason to suspect these are the same ones who disliked Anakin’s redemption in Return of the Jedi. They preferred a straight up villain, not one who turned out to also be a tragic victim. If they had to have a story go this way they didn’t want him to start as a young innocent child. They wanted one with shadows of the dark side already showing in a war from the start. But this was not the story. These original trilogy only fans were very loud about it. Therefore Disney’s Lucasfilm initially abandoned this era, even though they didn’t drop it as canon. They wanted to work in the Rebellion and post Rebellion era, even though those had a nicely developed timeline. They actually marketed the ‘sequels’ as anti prequels. They ignored Lucas’s confirmed ‘Chosen One’ as well as the happy ending promised in Return of the Jedi. They wanted to do a ‘new’ story. But what they did was a rehash of the Original trilogy. Their were plenty of confirmations later that they didn’t want Luke Skywalker to be the hero and not plan it out for three movies as Lucas did. In fact they they gave it only one year to develop to his usual three.
The problem with either argument is that no matter how loud the haters were, the numbers say they aren’t as many as they seem. The video games were some of the most popular ever, the books were consistently on the New York Times best seller list. The comic books sold consistently as well. Action figures were made from the Expanded Universe story lines and quickly shot up in price on the secondary market. This also leaves huge plot holes in all of the movies, that were filled in via books and novels…including the movie novelizations, which include mention of events in the Expanded Universe.
Therefore the only conclusion I, and many other fans can draw, is that they did not want to bother to do what 30 years of writers and game developers had successfully done: creatively fit their story in with those already created.