Star Wars canon

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Star Wars canon is the depiction of Star Wars storylines and characters considered officially canon to the franchise by its owner, Lucasfilm. Canon material is represented in media designated as such by the company.

A large number of derivative Star Wars works have been produced in conjunction with, between, and after the original trilogy (1977–1983) and prequel trilogy (1999–2005) of films. This body of work was collectively known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe for decades, and a hierarchy of canonicity was created and maintained by Lucasfilm to organize its content. In April 2014, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise.

Post-2014, the official Star Wars canon consists of the eight released Star Wars theatrical feature films, the Star Wars animated film, the television series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, multiple novels and comics, and any other material released after April 25, 2014, unless otherwise stated.

History[edit]

George Lucas's original trilogy of films—Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983)— was followed decades later by a prequel trilogy which included the films The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005).

Star Wars Expanded Universe[edit]

Since 1977, the Star Wars films have spawned a series of novelizations, comic books, newspaper comic strips, radio dramas, video games, role-playing games, and spin-off novels not written or produced by Lucas. This body of work became known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe, until rebranded as Star Wars Legends in 2014.[1][2]

The Star Wars canon was first defined in a 1994 interview with Lucas Licensing's Allan Kausch and Sue Rostoni in issue #23 of Star Wars Insider:

Gospel, or canon as we refer to it, includes the screenplays, the films, the radio dramas and the novelizations. These works spin out of George Lucas' original stories, the rest are written by other writers. However, between us, we've read everything, and much of it is taken into account in the overall continuity. The entire catalog of published works comprises a vast history—with many off-shoots, variations and tangents—like any other well-developed mythology.[3]

In a 2001 statement on the franchise's official website StarWars.com, Director of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet clarified:

When it comes to absolute canon, the real story of Star Wars, you must turn to the films themselves—and only the films. Even novelizations are interpretations of the film, and while they are largely true to George Lucas' vision (he works quite closely with the novel authors), the method in which they are written does allow for some minor differences ... The further one branches away from the movies, the more interpretation and speculation come into play. LucasBooks works diligently to keep the continuing Star Wars expanded universe cohesive and uniform, but stylistically, there is always room for variation.[4]

Lucas Licensing's managing editor Sue Rostoni said in 2001, "Our goal is to present a continuous and unified history of the Star Wars galaxy, insofar as that history does not conflict with, or undermine the meaning of Mr. Lucas's Star Wars saga of films and screenplays."[5]

In August 2005, Lucas himself said of the Expanded Universe material:

I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent. The way I do it now is they have a Star Wars Encyclopedia. So if I come up with a name or something else, I look it up and see if it has already been used. When I said [other people] could make their own Star Wars stories, we decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one. They try to make their universe as consistent with mine as possible, but obviously they get enthusiastic and want to go off in other directions.[6]

In early April 2014, StarWars.com defined the Expanded Universe as "stories set outside of the canon established by the films and TV shows of George Lucas that make the galaxy deeper and richer".[7]

Holocron database[edit]

By 1996, the collection of reference materials documenting the Expanded Universe had grown unwieldy. Lucasfilm Licensing decided something had to be done to organize the increasingly large collection of media which chronicled the Star Wars universe. A hierarchical system of canon was developed to organize the materials.[citation needed]

Historically, Lucasfilm tracked the storylines and content of these media in large black binders, known as bibles. In 2000, Leland Chee was hired as Continuity Database Administrator for Lucas Licensing, and implemented a database to replace the bibles. The database was named the Holocron,[8][9][10][11] a term used within the fictional Star Wars universe for "ancient repositories of knowledge and wisdom" used by the Jedi and Sith.[12][13] Lucasfilm's Holocron consists of over 55,000 entries for franchise characters, locations, species, and vehicles.[8] Chee said of the database in 2012, "What sets Star Wars apart from other franchises is that we develop a singular continuity across all forms of media, whether it be the films, TV series, video games, novels and comics, and the Holocron is a key component to Lucasfilm being able to do this."[14]

The Holocron was divided into five levels of canon (in order of precedence): G-canon, T-canon, C-canon, S-canon, and N-canon.

GWL-canon or G-canon stood for George Lucas canon: Marked GWL after George Lucas (whose middle name is Walton).[10] It included Episodes I–VI (the released films at that time), and any statements by George Lucas (including unpublished production notes from him or his production department that are never seen by the public). Elements originating with Lucas in the scripts, filmed deleted scenes, film novelizations, reference books, radio plays, and other primary sources were also G-canon when not in contradiction with the released films.[15] GWL-canon overrode the lower levels of canon when there was a contradiction. In the words of Leland Chee: "George's view of the universe is his view. He's not beholded to what's gone before."[10]
T-canon was Television canon: Referred to the canon level comprising the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Many stories wound up superseding those depicted in continuity canon, and the second Clone Wars animated series and its film also overwrote Gendy Tarkakovsky's 2003 Clone Wars animated micro-series.[15]
C-canon was Continuity canon: Consisting of most of the materials from the Star Wars Expanded Universe including the books, comics, and videogames bearing the label of Star Wars.[15] According to a Wired article, the creation of stories that introduced radical changes in the continuity, like The Force Unleashed video-game which introduced Darth Vader's secret apprentice, required Lucas's approval, and he spent hours explaining the developers anything he deemed necessary for them to know.[10] Games and RPG sourcebooks were a special case; the stories and general background information were themselves fully C-canon, but the other elements such as character/item statistics and gameplay were, with few exceptions, N-canon.[citation needed]
S-canon was Secondary canon: Covering the same media as C-canon, it was immediately superseded by anything in higher levels of canon in any place where two elements contradicted each other, the non-contradicting elements were still a canon part of the Star Wars universe, this included certain elements of a few N-canon stories.[15] The Star Wars Holiday Special is an example of secondary canon.[10]
N-canon was Non-canon: "What-if" stories (such as the Star Wars Tales comic anthology series published under the Star Wars: Infinities label), crossover appearances (such as the Star Wars character appearances in Soulcalibur IV), game statistics, and anything else directly contradicted by higher canon ends up here. N-canon was the only level that was not considered official canon by Lucasfilm. Any published material that contradicted things established in G-canon and T-canon was considered N-canon.[15]

Lucasfilm Star Wars Story Group[edit]

In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion.[16][17] Subsequently, Lucasfilm formed the "Star Wars Story Group", which was established to keep track of and define the canon and unify the films, comics, and other media.[18][19] Among its members are Chee, Kiri Hart, and Pablo Hidalgo.[20] Chee said in a 2014 Twitter post that a "primary goal" of the Story Group would be to replace the previous hierarchical canon with one cohesive one.[19]

Rebranding and canon restructuring[edit]

In April 2014, Lucasfilm rebranded the Expanded Universe material as Star Wars Legends and declared it non-canon to the franchise, specifying subsequent works would not be based on Legends material but could possibly draw from it.[1][2] During the same announcement, Lucasfilm declared that no further Star Wars Legends works would be published, so all the focus could be shifted towards the restructured Star Wars canon.[1][2][21] After the restructuring of the Star Wars canon, the only preexisting works to be considered canonical from that point on would be the original trilogy and prequel trilogy of films, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, and The Clone Wars animated series.[1][2] The previous levels of the Holocron became obsolete, because going forward all works would share the same level of canon as the films.[22] The pre-existing canonical works were described as "the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all the other (subsequent) tales must align".[1][2]

Dave Filoni supervising director of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series, as well as overseer of all Lucasfilm Animation, described the restructuring of the canon, as in-line with the vision of franchise creator George Lucas, stating working closely with him, "the films and the television series" were the only things, Lucas considered canon. Adding that as a consequence he had shared, the same mentality, but also followed Lucas's example in considering and utilizing material from the Legends into his own works; mentioning [23][24] how Lucas added Aayla Secura, from the Star Wars: Republic comic book series, into Attack of the Clones.[23][24][25] Filoni himself also added elements from Legends works into the restructured canon,[23][24] most notably incorporating the popular character Grand Admiral Thrawn into the third season of Star Wars Rebels, the character had been created by Timothy Zahn in the Legends novels known as the Thrawn trilogy,[23][26][27][28] from which Lucas had previously borrowed Coruscant as the name, for the New Republic capital city planet of his prequel trilogy of films.[7][29] Filoni further embraced himself using works outside of the films and television, by using novels and comics to tell the un-produced episodes of The Clone Wars, in a multimedia project known as The Clone Wars Legacy.[30]

Critics and fans have made comparisons between characters from The Force Awakens (2015), and those from the non-canonical Legends stories. An example of this, is how Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) is compared in contrast to Jacen Solo (a character from Legends, who doesn't exist in the official canon), the comparison is made because both characters are son of Han Solo and Princess Leia and both fall to the dark side of the Force; but bot characters arcs differ; Kylo commits parricide by killing his own father Han Solo, in contrast during the Legends novels series Legacy of the Force (2006–2008) Jacen instead kills Luke's wife Mara Jade (she doesn't exists in the canon either); Kylo also majorly differs by practicing the dark side as a part of the Knights of Ren, instead of as a Sith.[31][32][33][34] Similarly Finn's plot arc in the The Force Awakens has been compared to that of [31] non-canonical Legends character Kyle Katarn, who was introduced in the first-person shooter video game Star Wars: Dark Forces (1996),[35] because like Finn, Katarn also is a former Imperial stormtrooper who joins the Rebellion, although in contrast to Finn who despite using a lightsaber in the film doesn't command the Force, Katarn's arc leads him to become a Jedi.[36][37][38]

Subsequent works[edit]

Production on the sequel film Star Wars: The Force Awakens also began in 2014.[39] The first canon onscreen vehicle after the restructuring was identified as the then-upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, and the first new canon novel would be Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, a prequel to Rebels.[1][2][21] A New Dawn was released in September 2014,[40] and Rebels premiered in October 2014.[41] Marvel Comics began publishing a series of Star Wars comic book titles in January 2015.[42][43][44]

The Force Awakens was released in December 2015,[45] and marked the beginning of the sequel trilogy.[39] The following December, the film Rogue One was released, the first in a planned Star Wars Anthology series of films taking place outside of the main saga.[46][47]

List of canon works[edit]

The following is a list of Star Wars works considered canon to the franchise, which being a multimedia franchise, includes the Episodic and Anthology films, as well as animated series, video games, comics, and books.[1]

List of Star Wars canon works
Release date Title Type of media
May 1977 A New Hope Film
May 1980 The Empire Strikes Back
May 1983 Return of the Jedi
May 1999 Episode I – The Phantom Menace
May 2002 Episode II – Attack of the Clones
May 2005 Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
August 2008 The Clone Wars
October 2008 The Clone Wars TV series
May 2014 Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir Comic
September 2014 A New Dawn Novel
October 2014 Rebels TV series
November 2014 Tarkin Novel
January 2015 Star Wars Comic
February 2015 Darth Vader Comic
March 2015 Princess Leia Comic
March 2015 Heir to the Jedi Novel
April 2015 Kanan Comic
April 2015 Lords of the Sith Novel
July 2015 Dark Disciple Novel
July 2015 Lando Comic
September 2015 Lost Stars Young adult novel
September 2015 Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure Young adult novel
September 2015 The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure Young adult novel
September 2015 Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure Young adult novel
September 2015 Shattered Empire Comic
September 2015 Uprising Video game
September 2015 Aftermath Novel
October 2015 Chewbacca Comic
November 2015 Vader Down Comic
November 2015 Battlefront: Twilight Company Novel
November 2015 The Perfect Weapon Novella
November 2015 Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens Young adult anthology
December 2015 Before the Awakening Young adult anthology
December 2015 The Force Awakens Film
January 2016 Obi-Wan & Anakin Comic
April 2016 C-3PO Comic
April 2016 Poe Dameron Comic
May 2016 Bloodline Novel
June 2016 Han Solo Comic
July 2016 Aftermath: Life Debt Novel
October 2016 Ahsoka Young adult novel
November 2016 Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel Novel
December 2016 Rogue One Film
December 2016 Doctor Aphra Comic
February 2017 Aftermath: Empire's End Novel
February 2017 Darth Maul[citation needed] Comic
April 2017 Thrawn Novel
May 2017 Guardians of the Whills Novel
May 2017 Rebel Rising Young adult novel
July 2017 Inferno Squad Novel
December 2017 The Last Jedi Film
May 2018 Untitled Han Solo film
May 2019 Episode IX

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Kausch, Allan; Rostoni, Sue (Fall 1994). "Star Wars Publications Timeline". Star Wars Insider (23). 
  4. ^ Sansweet, Steve (August 17, 2001). "Ask the Lucasfilm Jedi Council". StarWars.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2002. Retrieved August 4, 2016. 
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  30. ^ http://www.starwars.com/tv-shows/the-clone-wars-legacy
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