Let me start my blog with a summary of what the Star Wars universe looks like for fans right now. I know that most of you are not as avid fans as I am, so please allow me to bring you up to date with everything that’s happening. Here are the major developments in the Star Wars universe right now. (Warning: this is long)
New Movie – Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I can’t imagine you would be reading my blog and not know there is a new Star Wars movie coming, but just in case you didn’t know: there is. Taking place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens will have nearly all of the major characters from the Original Trilogy (Lando is notably missing) plus a host of new ones. Check out the IMDB entry here for the full cast. J.J. Abrams, of recent Star Trek fame, is at the helm and the signs are very positive so far. Cast members have been tight lipped about what the movie is really about, and internet rumors are wide and varied, but many people involved have been quoted saying that the film will be amazing.
Here is the trailer for The Force Awakens if you have not seen it yet. In it you see several of the new characters, but none of the old (unless you count the Millennium Falcon). Since the time it was released, a teaser post from StarWars.com has named all the new characters and rumor has it the next trailer will have our old friends from the original trilogy. My personal guess is that we will see the next trailer in front of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.
Besides Episode VII there are more Star Wars movies in the works. The word is that they are going to release a main movie (Ep. 7, 8, and 9) every 3 years with spin-off films between them. It’s official that Gareth Edwards, who directed the recent Godzilla blockbuster, is directing the first one and rumors say it is going be about Han Solo or Boba Fett (or maybe both). Yet more rumors abound that the others might be about Yoda, Obi-Wan, or Red Squadron (Luke’s X-Wing squad).
The rebooting of the EU (Expanded Universe)
A formal announcement was made last year that all of the previous Expanded Universe entries are being re-branded as the Legends universe, and are no longer canon with the films. The new canon only includes the six movies, the Star Wars: Clone Wars show, and the Star Wars: Rebels show plus the new content going forward. This meant that all Novels, Junior Fiction, comic books, video games, and everything before that announcement were no longer officially part of the Star Wars universe. At the time of the announcement there were books and comics that had not even come out yet there were already non-canon. This was very hard for me to take at first, though I have accepted it and I won’t go on about that right now (I’ll likely make a post on that at some point). The good part of this change, is that everything going forward will all be one unified canon. A problem with the old EU was that there were different levels of canon, and certain points were frequently contradicted by different sources. For the new canon they have a group of people who oversee all elements of the EU and make sure they don’t contradict. No more questions of which Boba Fett is really Boba Fett or who shot first (it was Han FYI).
The acquisition of LucasFilm by Disney also affected the TV shows in production. Clone Wars got cancelled in the middle of production on Season 6. The episodes that were complete are not on Netflix, and the incomplete ones are available on StarWars.com as storyboards with audio. Seth Green and Matthew Senreich (creators of Robot Chicken) were also in production of another cartoon title Star Wars: Detours. It was to be a comedic look at the Star Wars universe and 39 episodes are actually completed already. Seth has stated that the show will eventually be released, but not in the near future. A live action Star Wars show was also started years ago, but was put on hold as the effects budget was much too high for television.
Right now the only Star Wars show on the air is Star Wars: Rebels. Rebels is a little more lighthearted than the war torn stories of the Clone Wars series. It follows a small crew of characters fighting against the empire where they can. The crew includes a Twi’lek pilot, an ex-mandalorian girl, an alien from a race not seen before (based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original art for Chewbacca), a Jedi on the run, and young force sensitive orphan being trained as a Jedi. I watch the show with my son, and we thoroughly enjoy it (also Lando is in an episode, so that’s awesome). You can watch it online (with a login from your cable provider) on Disney XD’s website.
New Star Wars Novels
Besides the new movies, this is the biggest deal for me. I collect the novels and they are what took from me just liking Star Wars like everybody else, to being a HUGE SW fanboy. There are 161 Star Wars novels at the time I right this, not counting e-book only short stories and youth fiction, with 159 of these now being in the recently dubbed Legends universe (BTW I have read 104 of these). There are only 2 books now included the new canon. A New Dawn and Tarkin.
Star Wars: A New Dawn is a tie-in to the new Rebels show and serves as back story for some of the characters from it, and takes place between episodes III and IV. Star Wars: Tarkin is about the life of Grand Moff Tarkin who we saw as the commander of the first Death Star in A New Hope, and seems to tell the story of his childhood and involvement in the creation of the famous battle station. I actually have not finished either of these yet but will likely post a review of each when I do.
There are several more books scheduled for release in the coming year including: Heir to the Jedi (Luke working for the Rebellion), Lords of the Sith (Darth Vader and the Emperor in action together), and Dark Disciple (Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos in a storyline that never got produced when the Clone Wars show got cancelled).
New Marvel Comics
As Disney now owns LucasFilm and Star Wars, the rights for comics in the universe were taken from Dark Horse and given back to Marvel (which they also own). Several new series are starting in the beginning of 2015. The ongoing series, simply called Star Wars, just launched on January 14th. 2 mini-series following Darth Vader and Princess Leia are starting in February and March respectively, and a series titled “Star Wars – Kanan: The Last Padawan” launches in April and will chronicle the history of Kanan Jarrus (from Star Wars Rebels) starting at Order 66. If you’re interested in these be sure to support your local comic shop and start a subscription with them.
I had only dabbled in the Star Wars comics before this as there was just so many entries into that medium and it seemed ominous to try to catch up. However with this reboot, it is a perfect time for anyone to dive in either the comics or the books and be up to speed immediately.
Since 1979 Star Wars and video games have been a match made in heaven. With the acquisition of LucasArts as part of the Disney buy-out at least 2 games in production got scrapped. One of these was 1313 (which I was quite excited about). 1313 had you playing a bounty hunter in Coruscant’s seedy underworld, think GTA in the Star Wars Universe The other was Battlefront 3, which has been restarted now and renamed to just Star Wars: Battlefront. Production of the new Battlefront was given to DICE studios, the team that is responsible for making the Battlefield games which Star Wars: Battlefield took their inspiration from.
A slew of games for mobile platforms are out there now including the strategy game Force Commander, and some other ones I can’t remember because I don’t really like playing mobile games. I feel like most of them are just time sinks that penalize you for not using their micro-transactions to make the game easier.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online game, think World of Warcraft) that takes place around 3,500 years before the movies. I personally play this game off and on and enjoy it as it is far more story driven than any other MMO I’ve every played. It is of course non-canon now, not that anything that happened 3,500 years before the movies really effected anything.
The Star Wars LEGO series has been a staple of the building block company’s toy line since 1999. Year after year they release, and re-release, new building sets based on scenes and vehicles from the movies, cartoons, and even a couple from some video games. Right now they are making multiple sets based on Star Wars Rebels and the original trilogy. Official word is that there will be 7 sets tying in to The Force Awakens to be released around the time of the new movie.
In short, there are tons of new things coming out and it’s a super exciting time to be a Star Wars nerd. If you’re still reading this long post, thanks.