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When Lucasfilm announced on Friday that the Expanded Universe of the Star Wars franchise — essentially, all of the stories told in ancillary material outside of the six core movies and Clone Wars television series — was no longer part of the larger continuity of the franchise, more than thirty years’ worth of stories appeared to be thrown away. So how did the fans of those stories take the news?
On social media, there was a sense of nostalgia for what had gone before — “Star Wars fans in the 70s and 80s grew up with the movies. Star Wars fans in the 90s grew up with the EU,” posted one fan. “Sad day for all of us millennials” — but it wasn’t necessarily a biased nostalgia. “One must look at it objectively: most of the Star Wars EU was really, really bad,” another fan pointed out. “Space dragons, Jar Jar’s dad, Beatrice Arthur…” Perhaps such perspective could be expected from social media — which is, after all where casual Star Wars fans hang out — but what about the reaction on message boards and forums with a Star Wars focus?
Perhaps understandably, the response seemed most negative at the EU Cantina message board, a site dedicated to the Expanded Universe as it currently stands. “I think we all knew this was coming, but the ‘officialness’ still hurts,” wrote one poster. “I knew that my fandom was in critical condition, but this feels like the official goodbye. Let’s face it: a huge reason why I was a Star Wars fan was because of the EU. Had there not been an EU, I’m sure I would still love the movies, but so much of my Star Wars memories revolve around the EU.” Another simply wrote “R.I.P. Star Wars EU.”
Over on the RebelScum forums, reactions ranged from the resigned to the excited: One fan wrote that, while “this is just Disney trashing everything that was built so they can make it their own,” he had to admit that “between Marvel, Dark Horse, the comic strip series, the novels, the kids books, the junior novels, the roleplaying and computer games, etc., there’re just no way to make it all ‘fit’.” Other reactions went from a simple “this is awesome,” to optimism over “a new starting point” for the franchise.
Overall, the attitude of many hardcore Star Wars fans was one perhaps best summed up by one member of TheForce.net’s forums, who posted that “the fact that a Disney executive doesn’t consider the EU to be canon doesn’t alter the books in the slightest, and doesn’t make them less enjoyable to read. The Star Wars EU was always about selecting your own material, about deciding which of the storylines to admit into your own ‘universe’ so to speak (you had to do that, because a lot of the stuff contradicted other stuff!).”
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what’s [canon] or not,” went another message on the site. “The fans will still accept and reject whatever they choose.” That line of thinking was taken a stage further on Twitter, with someone suggesting “Disney can say the Star Wars EU isn’t canon anymore, but if these movies aren’t amazing, fans will always say the EU is what really happened.”
If all else fails, there’s always fan fiction — or, if fans get truly desperate, Star Trek.
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