Let’s talk about some plot points in the new Star Wars movies that came from some not so new places.
One of the criticisms leveled against the Star Wars sequel trilogy is that the movies were, in large part, just rehashing the original trilogy. There is a lot of truth behind this criticism, but it’s not the whole story. The sequels did switch some things up and do their own thing at times. However, even when trying new things, the sequels were not always original at all. In writing them, it’s clear that the creators borrowed a lot of ideas from the old EU.
For those who don’t know the Expanded Universe or EU was the massive collection of hundreds of books, comics, games, and other media sources that between 1977 and 2014 told the story of Star Wars beyond the movies. Most of the books were pretty good, some were horrible, and a few were absolutely amazing (where my Rogue Squadron Fans at?). When Disney took over the franchise, they declared the vast majority of the EU non-canon (the major exception being the Clone Wars TV show which was still in production at the time) and reclassified it the EU as “Legends.” This was done to clear the air for the new movies and a new timeline, but a surprising number of ideas were copied over. Let us look at some of them.
***Spoilers for all of Star Wars***
Jacen Solo/Ben Solo
In the old EU Han and Leia married and had three kids, twins, Jacen and Jaina, and a younger son Anakin. All three later became Jedi and had many adventures until Anakin’s heroic death. Overtime, Jacen was slowly corrupted by the Dark Side, eventually becoming a Sith Lord. Jacen’s story is pretty similar in a lot of beats to the story of Ben Solo, also Han and Leia’s son, who eventually turns to the Dark Side.
In the books, Jacen is eventually defeated and killed by his sister Jaina who is hailed as the new hope of the Jedi. Despite their on-screen kiss, some of the team behind Rise of Skywalker have said they see Rey and Ben as having a sibling-like relationship, and Ben does die as a result of Rey’s actions, if not directly at her hands. Even the name Ben isn’t original. In the EU, Luke Skywalker’s son, who he also trained as a Jedi and for a time was apprenticed to Jacen Solo, was named Ben.
In the timeline of the sequel trilogy, Luke Skywalker attempted to bring the Jedi back into being. He gathered students and started a new academy to train them. However, this all went wrong when his student Ben Solo, unknowing corrupted by the voice of Snoke/Palpatine, turned on him, some students were killed, the Academy was destroyed, and Luke was not totally blameless. This mirrors several plotlines from the old EU. One of the major storylines all through the EU was Luke trying to resurrect the Jedi. After bumbling around a bunch, he ended up founding an academy on Yavin 4 in the old ruins once used by the Rebellion. While he was able to train Jedi, things were rocky.
The Academy was attacked several times and had an internal division. Of particular note was Kyp Durron, a powerful force user rescued from the spice mines of Kessel by Han Solo. During his training, Durron was corrupted by an ancient Sith ghost, tried to kill Luke, and ended up stealing a superweapon and blowing up a few planets, standard Sith stuff. There are a lot of shades of Kylo Ren in this story, though the EU had a happy end, Durron was redeemed, and Luke’s Academy became a success.
One of the more controversial choices in Rise of Skywalker was to bring back Emperor Palpatine. This was not, however, the first time the idea was tried, and Rise owes a lot to the old EU Dark Empire story. Dark Empire was a series of stories (Dark Empire, Dark Empire II, and Empire’s End) that dealt with the return of Emperor Palpatine.
In Dark Empire, it is revealed that Palpatine can transfer his life energy into a clone body, of which he has several and thus cheat death (more of an explanation than Rise gives). He appears on the secret sith world of Byss (check) with a new fleet (check), including the Galaxy Gun – a weapon that shoots planet-killing missiles through hyperspace (Starkiller base, check) and Eclipse Class Super Star Destroyers, SSDs with planet-destroying super lasers (check). Of course, Palpatine needs a new apprentice, so he tries to corrupt Luke, then Leia, then her kids, and finally even tries to transfer his spirit into Leia’s newborn son. You can see all the parallels without much issue. Given that Dark Empire was one of the more divisive EU stores, I’m kind of surprised how much was borrowed from it.
When it was revealed in Rise of Skywalker, the Rey was Palpatine’s granddaughter a lot of people were pretty surprised that the old Sith Lord had a family at all, including a son who he had killed. This, however, was another idea that the EU had explored.
In the young adult series Jedi Prince, we are introduced to Triclops, the mutant three-eyed (one is in the back of his head) son of Palpatine (and possibly his adviser Sly Moore). Like canon Palpatine, Triclops and Palpatine didn’t get along, when Triclops was revealed as a pacifist, Palpatine had him sent to the spice mines of Kessel as a slave and his existence hidden from all. Triclops only showed up in the I-novels, which are generally regarded as some of the worst Star Wars books ever written, so it is interesting to see how similar Triclops’ story is to what we get in the Sequels.
The Skywalker Lightsaber, first owned by Anakin Skywalker and the then in turn by Luke and Rey Skywalker and Ben Solo, plays a pretty important part in the sequel trilogy. Despite apparently being lost on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, it is somehow found and returned, then passed around. This also happened in the old EU. Early on in the EU, in the Thrawn Trilogy, the lightsaber is found by Imperial forces along with Luke’s hand. The hand is used to grow a clone of Luke, which uses the lightsaber against the original. Luke kills the clone and takes back the saber, only to later give it to his future wife, Mara Jade (later Mara Jade-Skywalker).
Mara used it until her death in ABY 40. Not long after, it appears the saber came into the possession of her and Luke’s son Ben Skywalker. Thus in both timelines, the saber is recovered and passed down through the Skywalkers (with Ben using it in both timelines).
Do you think the sequels or the EU used these ideas best? Let us know down in the comments!