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, but they also do their own thing sometimes. But even when trying new things, the sequels weren’t really original at all. It’s clear that the creators borrowed a lot of ideas from the old EU.
For those who don’t know the Expanded Universe (EU) is a collection of books, comics, games, and other media sources created between 1977 and 2014. They told the story of Star Wars beyond the original trilogy 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, excluding the Clone Wars, which was still in production at the time. The studio reclassified the EU as “Legends” so as to clear the air for the new movies and a new timeline.
But a surprising number of ideas were copied for use in the new trilogy. Let’s look at some of them.
Spoilers ahead for all of ‘Star Wars’.
Jacen Solo/Ben Solo
In the EU, Han and Leia married and had three kids: a set of twins, Jacen and Jaina, and a younger son named Anakin. All three later became Jedi, and had many adventures until Anakin’s very heroic death. Overtime, Jacen was slowly corrupted by the Dark Side, and eventually he became a Sith Lord. Jacen’s story shares a lot of parallels with Ben Solo’s origin, 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, it’s the name of Luke Skywalker’s son, who he also trained as a Jedi and for a time, and who was apprenticed under Jacen Solo.
Luke’s Troubled Jedi Academy
In the sequel trilogy timeline, Luke Skywalker attempted to bring the Jedi back into being. He gathered students and started a new academy to train them. But everything went wrong when his student, Ben Solo, was corrupted by the voice of Snoke/Palpatine and turned on him. Some students were killed, the Academy was destroyed, and Luke wasn’t 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 to blowing up a few planets– you know, 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.
The Emperor Returns
One of the more controversial choices in Rise of Skywalker was to bring back Emperor Palpatine. This was not the first time the idea was tried, thought. Rise owes a lot to the EU’s Dark Empire, a series of stories (Dark Empire, Dark Empire II, and Empire’s End) that also featured the return of Emperor Palpatine.
In Dark Empire, it’s revealed that Palpatine can transfer his life energy into a clone body, of which he has severa. This allows him to essentially cheat death, which is more of an explanation than Rise gives its audience. 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 probably spot all of the Rise parallels without my help. But given that Dark Empire was one of the more divisive EU stores, I’m surprised how much was borrowed from it.
When Rise of Skywalker revealed that Rey was Palpatine’s granddaughter, a lot of folks were pretty surprised that the ol’ Sith Lord had a family at all– including the son he had killed. But this was another idea that the EU had already explored.
In the young adult series Jedi Prince, we are introduced to Triclops, the three-eyed mutant with an extra eye in the back of his head. He was also the son of Palpatine (and possibly his adviser, Sly Moore). Similarly to canon, Palpatine and Triclops didn’t get along, and when Triclops was revealed as a pacifist, Palpatine had him sent to the spice mines of Kessel to hide his existence from the galaxy.
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 Triclops’ tale seemed to influence the Sequels.
The Return of The Skywalker Lightsaber
The Skywalker Lightsaber– first owned by Anakin, the Luke, Rey, and finally Ben– plays a pretty important part in the sequel trilogy. Despite apparently being lost on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, it’s somehow found, returned, and passed around.
This also happened in the old EU. In the early aughts of the EU, the Thrawn Trilogy delivered the lightsaber to Imperial forces– right 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. In both timelines, the saber is recovered and passed down through the Skywalkers (with Ben using it in both timelines).
Check out our Guide to the Star Wars Movies In Order
Do you think the sequels or the EU used these ideas best? Let us know down in the comments!