To me, half the appeal of Star Wars was always the supplementary content that made the galaxy seem so vast. With the likes of Dark Empire, Thrawn and the Knights of the Old Republic comic series dominating my reading life, the Expanded Universe meant just as much to me as the movies did.
But sadly, it was not to last. To make way for the new movies, Disney were forced to make the EU non-canon to allow the new team to have more creative control over the trilogy. Our favorite stories were no longer a part of the overarching narrative and thousands of years of history would need to be rewritten.
Initially, like many fans, I was outraged by this decision. Many of the best Star Wars stories had been eradicated from the continuity and the backlash was understandably negative. Disney promised that a new canon would exist, filled with numerous comic series, novels and video games, but the move left a sour taste in the mouths of the fans.
However, with one or two exceptions, it turned out the new stories weren't all that bad. Sure, they weren't Thrawn, but they were certainly better than some of the other old EU stories. Books like Dark Disciple and Lost Stars were on a par with some of the biggest hitters of the nineties and the ongoing Star Wars comic series is absolutely phenomenal. In fact, in many ways, the new canon actually surpasses the Expanded Universe.
Of course, you may not agree, but everyone to their own, am I right?
5. No Crying Mountains (and the like...)
Now admittedly, Mount Sorrow originated in the Ewoks comic series, which was specifically geared towards a much younger demographic. However, that doesn't negate the fact that a sentient mountain that cries water from the Holy Grail is officially canon in the Expanded Universe. But it doesn't stop there. The EU also features werewolves, zombies and Hutt Jedi.
Hutt. Jedi. Doesn't that just strike you as a bit out of place?
In the new canon, the only similar complaint has been Chuck Wendig's inclusion of hamsters in his novel Star Wars: Aftermath, and that was only in a simile. In relation to the rest of the Star Wars universe, the new canon has managed to stay reasonably grounded, with nothing seeming particularly out of place. Every novel, comic and game feels like part of a single continuity rather than an odd fanfiction or ridiculous idea thought up by a child.
4. The Empire Didn't Fall In A Day, Guys
With the notable exception of Grand Admiral Thrawn (gone but not forgotten), the Empire pretty much petered out immediately after the Battle of Endor. After the death of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, the Empire had no one to follow and essentially just faded away, with just a few concentrated knots still fighting during the following years.
In the new canon, the Battle of Endor was merely the beginning of the end. Unlike the EU, the Empire is still very much kicking one year on at the Battle of Jakku, which was far more important in determining the future of the galaxy. The new canon realistically shows what would happen if the Empire were to suffer such a blow. Aftermath shows riots and punch-ups starting left right and centre as the struggle for power erupts, which was almost entirely glossed over in the Expanded Universe.
3. Anakin Skywalker Is The Chosen One
Hey, remember when Anakin's sacrifice at the end of Return of the Jedi meant something? When he finally fulfilled the prophecy of destroying the Sith by killing both himself and The Emperor, therefore bringing balance to The Force? Boy, those sure were good times.
The Expanded Universe, in a bid to keep the story alive, decided to take a massive steamer on Anakin's legacy by introducing new Sith after Jedi such as Lumiya and Darth Caedus. Now, don't get me wrong, because these two are actually some of my favorite characters and they did keep the story going. Caedus particularly was a very interesting character to watch develop. However, the very presence of the Sith means that Vader wasn't the chosen one after all. In fact, it wasn't Luke either. The whole prophecy was bogus.
In fact, in just over a hundred years, The Sith have control of the galaxy again under Darth Krayt and all the Skywalker legacy has achieved is a moody smuggler with trust issues and a badass scavenger with a bone to pick.
In the new canon, as far as we know, The Sith are no more. Sure, we have the Knights of Ren, but current theories believe they are a splinter cell of Luke's new Jedi and Abrams has stated that they are not Sith, implying that Anakin did truly bring balance to The Force. Now surely that sounds better?
2. No Mary Sue Weapons
Remember the Death Star? Big round thing that could blow up planets? That was pretty cool, right? And its power was totally justified because it was ninety kilometers across, which is pretty damn huge. The second Death Star wasn't really into blowing up planets all that much but still packed a punch, weighing in at over one hundred and sixty kilometers across. That's all okay.
What's not okay is the Sun Crusher from The Expanded Universe. This ship here, seen above, has the ability to destroy entire star systems at the touch of a button. That's the star and all the planets gone in an instant. Bearing in mind the "ultimate power in the universe" was over 90 kilometers across, the Sun Crusher decides to cut down on all that unnecessary exhaust port stuff and condense itself into a starfighter thirteen and a half meters long. That's shorter than a bus.
In the new canon, everything seems pretty realistic by Star Wars standards. The Death Star is still regarded as an architectural masterpiece and no one has dared to reproduce anything like it in the thirty years since. There's no denying that Star Wars is still slightly ridiculous, but at least the new canon tries to remain within the limits of suspended disbelief.
1. No Unnecessary Cloning
While the Thrawn Trilogy will always have a place in my heart as some of the most enjoyable literature I've ever read, the final book, The Last Command, featured the cloning of Luke Skywalker to create Luuke Skywalker. In Dark Empire, another personal favorite, Emperor Palpatine clones himself dozens of times to escape death. I'm all for a bit of cloning here and there, but in the Expanded Universe it is used far to often.
In the new canon, cloning has only appeared as part of The Clone Wars. It hasn't been used unnecessarily to bring deceased characters back to life, nor has it been used to create an overpowered army of Sith Lords. Harking back to previous points, the new canon tries to be innovative and entertaining while still keeping a foot in reality.
And before all you fanboys charge into the comments to defend the EU, I'd just like to make it clear that I understand. I miss it too guys, but at some point, we all just have to let go...