In April 2014, it was announced that the plot for The Force Awakens would not follow the storylines set out in the Star Wars Expanded Universe – over 30 years worth of books, comics, video games and other supplementary material were decanonized and rebranded as Star Wars Legends. While elements from Legends have slowly been reintegrated into the new Canon – such as planets, ships, and even a few characters – a lot of characters and elements are still waiting to be reintroduced (if they ever are).
Here we look at some elements of Star Wars Legends that live on in Canon… in spirit, if not in name.
Legends: Red Sabers, Yellow Eyes, and a Propensity for Evilness
If you’re going to create a franchise where the heroes wield lightsabers, you have to give them a foe worth fighting. Reflecting blaster bolts from countless stormtroopers is definitely cool, but nothing beats the visual spectacle of a lightsaber duel. As Legends stories created more Jedi to fill the ranks of video game and roleplaying-game characters, they had to create new villains to fight and challenge the heroes. The video games added iconic villains such as Jerec and his Dark Jedi who were hunting for the Valley of the Jedi in the Dark Forces games, and the Chistori Dark Jedi Desann and the dark side warriors of the Empire Reborn in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. West End Games created the Inquisitorius, an Imperial order of dark side wielding Inquisitors who hunted the Jedi and Force-sensitives on the order of Emperor Palpatine. And of course, Timothy Zahn introduced the concept of the Emperor’s Hand, Palpatine’s personal servants trained in the dark side to carry out his will.
So, if you’re missing the hordes of red lightsaber wielding villains, you’ll love …
Canon: The Inquisitorius
Taken from the initial concept created by West End Games in 1993’s Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim, Star Wars Rebels introduced the Inquisitorius into Canon in the shape of the Inquisitor. A fearsome adversary who dogged the crew of the Ghost in his search for the rebel Jedi Kanan Jarrus and his padawan Ezra Bridger, the Inquisitor was armed with a red double-bladed lightsaber with the entirely new trick of it being able to spin around a central ring. Season Two of Rebels upped the ante by debuting two new Inquisitors, Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister for double the fun.
Legends: Jedi Apparently Love Suffering
Despite the assertion of the films that Luke was the last of the Jedi, Legends has a long history of introducing new Jedi during the Galactic Civil War and into the era of the New Republic before the establishment of a rebuilt Jedi Order under Luke Skywalker’s tutelage. The defining trait of each was their struggle with the dark side because no one likes a story where the hero is too pure. The most popular was Kyle Katarn who was introduced in the video game Dark Forces and its subsequent sequels. A former Imperial stormtrooper who defected to the Rebellion, Katarn grew into a powerful Jedi and member of the Jedi Council who faced his own brushes with the dark side of the Force. General Rahm Kota from The Force Unleashed was a militant battle hardened commander waging a personal war against the Empire who was blinded by Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice. Kyp Durron was a young Jedi seduced to the dark side by the spirit of Exar Kun who blew up the entire Carida system before being redeemed.
If you’re a fan of Jedi struggling with inner conflicts, you should pay attention to …
Canon: Kanan Jarrus
One of the main characters of Star Wars Rebels, Kanan Jarrus is a Jedi who was a teenager at the time of the Clone Wars and Order 66. After Palpatine betrayed the Jedi leading to their near extermination, Kanan went on the run while his Master Depa Billaba held off clone troopers long enough for him to escape. Hiding from a galaxy now hunting him, Kanan hid his Force-sensitivity and lightsaber and worked a series of jobs never settling in one place too long. Only falling in with Hera Syndulla and the crew of the Ghost did he find a home, but he was still wracked by doubt over his proficiency as a Jedi which only grew stronger when he took on Ezra Bridger as a Padawan.
Legends: Bands Of Brothers
If there was one constant in the array of Legends books it was Wedge Antilles, the everyman starfighter pilot acknowledged as the best pilot in the Rebellion, and later the New Republic. Although he originated in the Original Trilogy, Wedge’s character and history were the product of countless novels, reference books, comics, and video games, and he is one of the best loved characters in the entire franchise. Along with Wedge came an array of elite pilots in both Rogue and Wraith Squadrons. Like Wedge, Derek “Hobbie” Klivian and Wes Janson also originated in the movies and were similarly fleshed out in Legends supplementary material, but countless other pilots were original creations, including Corran Horn, Tycho Celchu, and Gavin Darklighter. The fan-favorite X-Wing series of novels written by Michael A Stackpole and Aaron Allston chronicled the adventures of Rogue and Wraith Squadrons as they fought in the Galactic Civil War giving readers a ground-level view of the conflict away from the lofty political drama or the constant battle between the light and dark sides of the Force.
If you long for the adventure and excitement of the X-Wing series, check out …
Canon: The Rebellion and the Resistance
In The Force Awakens, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron now leads the charge as the Resistance’s top pilot with a commitment to the cause that is second to none. As Black Leader, he leads an elite squad of pilots in their battle against the First Order. With Dameron come an array of new pilots including Jessika Pava and Ello Asty. But they aren’t the only ones stepping up to the fight. Marvel’s Shattered Empire comic series also introduce us to Poe’s mother, elite Rebel pilot Shara Bey who fought at the Battle of Endor. Moving away from pilots, the Battlefront tie-in novel Twilight Company follows the adventures of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry as they battle through the Galactic Civil War. Twilight Company covers ground that Legends material never did – a story set on the front lines of a ground war.
Legends: Views from the Other Side
Legends storylines did an excellent job portraying sympathetic Imperial officers, men and women who believed the institution they served was honorable and worked for the best interests of the galaxy maintaining law and order. Captain Gilad Pellaeon, commander of the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera ordered the Imperial retreat from the Battle of Endor and attempted to keep the crumbling Empire together as the New Republic ascended, eventually reaching the position of Grand Admiral and head of state of the Imperial Remnant. Baron Soontir Fel, the Empire’s most decorated fighter pilot (and brother in law to Wedge Antilles) balanced his devotion to law and order with his growing unease about Imperial leadership. And Thrawn, an alien Grand Admiral and warlord who almost reversed Imperial losses in the face of a triumphant New Republic until he was assassinated on the bridge of his Star Destroyer.
If you’ve had enough of a focus on Rebel scum and feel the patriotic march of the Empire, follow …
Canon: Admiral Rae Sloane
Rae Sloane was the female captain of the Star Destroyer Ultimatum featured in A New Dawn. Previous depictions of the Empire in Legends showed them to have a disdain for both women and aliens working in command positions, but A New Dawn discarded this notion. Sloane was a capable and effective commanding officer, and her appearances across new Canon works has made her the most visible Imperial officer to be created outside the films and television series. By the time of the Battle of Endor, Sloane captains the Star Destroyer Vigilance with the rank of Admiral, and orders the retreat from Endor.
Legends: Why Do Villains Always Wear Masks?
Ever since Darth Vader exploded onto cinema screens in 1977, the shortcut to “evil” became black armor and a helmet. Just ask Mel Brooks. Legends material continued the trend to varying degrees. Darth Bane, founder of the Rule of Two utilized orbalisk armor that fed off the dark side of the Force and rendered him nearly invulnerable. Darth Malgus wore a respirator to assist his breathing while Darth Malak had a prosthetic jaw to conceal the fact that his had been removed in a lightsaber duel. Also, it allowed him to talk. But Revan was the closest to Vader. A full face mask obscuring his entire identity, flowing robes, and a red bladed lightsaber made him the iconic character from the Knights of the Old Republic video game.
If you’re missing cool masks and scary robes, wait until you see …
Canon: Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren is the new villain from The Force Awakens. He idolizes Darth Vader and has his melted helmet as a trophy that he talks to because that’s not weird at all. Despite all that, his look is closer to Darth Revan than Vader. His helmet evokes the design aesthetics of Revan’s mask with the single eyepiece, and his dark robes include a hood that can be raised over the helmet like Revan was fond of doing (hood and helmet is really a bit of overkill but I’m not going to mention it to him).
Legends: We Miss Mara… and Jaina
Legends introduced several new women to the Star Wars universe in a time when the films only really gave us Leia, Mon Mothma, and Aunt Beru. Timothy Zahn introduced us to Mara Jade in his Thrawn Trilogy, and also to Jaina Solo, one of Han and Leia’s twins. Mara Jade was a former Emperor’s Hand for Palpatine who was directed to kill Luke Skywalker but ended up marrying him instead. Jaina grew into a respected fighter pilot and Jedi. Both characters were popular with fans and were well characterized – the decanonization of the Expanded Universe left many disappointed that their favorite characters were no longer Canon.
Missing Mara and Jaina? Fear not because we have …
Now admittedly it’s too early to tell what kind of character Rey is. It’s clear there is more than meets the eye with her. Rey’s lifestyle as a scavenger on a desert planet hints at a tough, no-nonsense demeanour in the vein of both Mara and Jaina. And while rumors abound about her potential heritage as the child of one of the original cast, the chances of Rey again wielding a lightsaber at some point are looking better.
Mike Delaney is Cavalier One, an administrator on Wookieepedia. Since the sun never sets on the British Empire, he believes that it is Happy Hour all day long.