WARNING: Massive spoilers for The Force Awakens and the EU books follow. Read at your own risk.
Anyone with a working knowledge of Star Wars knows full well that an entire tapestry of stories and legends exists around and outside of the canon established in the films. Casual fans may not be able to name any character or story from this Expanded Universe (often referred to as the EU), but they know they're there and they know that many diehards swear by them. There are conflicts, characters, and concepts that don't and won't ever show up in any of the movies thanks to George Lucas's exit from (and subsequent sale of) the franchise. Don't get me wrong: Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars property turned out to be a smart, lucrative move that not only gave us a fantastic film in The Force Awakens, but also promised a new batch of films that would dive deeper into this beloved universe. Even so, it's a damn shame that the EU stories were thrown away the way they were, and I'm one of a few who believe that the new canon, as great as it is, can't touch what so many gifted authors built. The following paragraphs will explore why the EU will forever be superior to the canon and will explain my reasoning in a way I hope you'll appreciate.
1. Anakin Solo > Rey
The youngest son of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo, Anakin couldn't be more different than the perpetually angry, emotionally broken Sith Lord after whom he was named. Not only does he actively participate in the Yuuzhan Vong War, but he is instrumental to the Jedi's eventual victory. He kills a number of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, including the formidable Shok Choka, before succumbing to a horde of voxyn (Yuuzhan Vong-bred Jedi-killers) and dying soon after. He perishes in a cocoon of bright white light that disintegrates any voxyn brave (or stupid) enough to stray too close.
Anakin Solo's addition to what is now actual canon would've bolstered the franchise in ways few people realize. Assuming Lucasfilm went in the “Jedi come back and prosper” direction, it would've been nice to see such a likable, relatable protagonist who shares a name with an incredibly powerful villain but couldn't be more different. In fact, it is believed that Han, at Leia's behest, agreed to name his third child after his grandfather with the hope that he would help repair a damaged legacy and become what Darth Vader might have been had it not been for Sidious. That's some serious protagonist potential there.
Rey, on the other hand, may be powerful, competent, and inspiring to women, but she really can't touch the legacy that Anakin Solo left behind. Sure, I recognize that she's exactly what these new films needed, but something still tells me that Anakin would've been a better fit as a protagonist. Hell, maybe they could've coexisted. I just don't find her as interesting or as relatable as Anakin. Plus, he can discharge white light from his fingers. How sweet would that be to see onscreen?
Keep in mind that we've only seen a shielded glimpse of what Rey can do. Anakin, however, was developed over an expansive series of books that had the privilege of exploring a character so rich in potential. It may not be fair to compare the two quite yet, but from what I've seen, that's the conclusion I've reached.
2. First Order < Yuuzhan Vong
Those who think the First Order is just a rehashing of the original Galactic Empire are absolutely right. The only real differences lie in the name, the diversified stormtroopers, and the chain of command. Other than that, they're still the same delusional maniacs who oppressed the galaxy 30 years before. They've still got a powerful overlord lurking in the shadows. They've still got a headstrong leader with unmatched anger management issues. The First Order is the Empire in almost every way it can be without reclaiming the name.
Conversely, the Yuuzhan Vong are more unique and more formidable than pretty much every villain the Jedi have ever faced. Even Sidious ain't got nothin' on these power-hungry creeps. Their leader, Onimi, along with Supreme Overlord Shimrra, seeks the power of a god and will not stop until he becomes one. It's only after Jacen Solo, brother to Anakin and Jaina Solo, becomes one with the Force that Onimi and Shimrra are vanquished and the war is won. Obviously, the victory comes at great cost to the Jedi and forces an era of change and reflection on the galaxy. These guys didn't go down easy. At all.
3. Kylo Ren < Darth Caedus
Ok, a bit of backstory before I dive in: Jacen Solo, the guy who defeats the Yuuzhan Vong and becomes stronger than almost every Jedi in the galaxy, eventually steps over to the Dark Side. He adopts the name Darth Caedus, kills a bunch of people (including Luke's wife, Mara Jade), and eventually meets his end at the hands of his sister, Jaina.
Kylo Ren, introduced to us in [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158), basically functions as a weaker, more angsty Jacen Solo stand-in. His journey takes a darker turn much earlier than Jacen's, pushing him closer to Darth Vader and his legacy. Of course, he kind of puts himself in a hole when he kills Han and chases Rey and Finn outside. He's mortally wounded and presumably whisked away to an undisclosed location, where Supreme Leader Snoke (the Darth Sidious of the new films) waits with the promise of more training.
Whereas Kylo Ren (also referred to as Ben Solo) edges closer to the Skywalker legacy he respects so deeply, Jacen Solo flips the family tradition on its head and brings balance to the Force before falling victim to the darker facets of himself. It's not really a role-reversal as much as it is a chronology-reversal, but it makes things a bit more intriguing and adds an extra dimension to a series of films that desperately need it.
So, what do you think? Was my logic sound or nonexistent? Please let me know!