With the returns of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo all but assured for JJ Abrams' ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ it appears Disney are preparing to retcon the poodoo out of the series’ “expanded universe” fiction.
The ‘Star Wars’ expanded universe (EU) refers to the canonical tales told in books, comics, TV shows and videogames all set within the saga’s galaxy. Yes, long before Disney even dreamt of buying LucasFilm the lives of Luke, Leia and Han were already fleshed out following the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’.
All new characters have fought the good fight, sometimes alongside existing characters, sometimes not, some good and some bad. Some, such as Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novels and Bioware’s ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ videogames are fantastic examples of taking a known franchise and doing wonders with it.
Some aspects of the EU aren’t quite so excellent however, so here’s a look at a few of the most outrageous, ridiculous and downright disturbing things to come from the expanded universe.
Darth Maul reborn with robot legs
One of the better things about George Lucas’ disastrous prequel trilogy was the creation of a villain who despite his limited screen-time in ‘The Phantom Menace’ became something of a series icon. Plenty of fans who were disappointed that Darth Maul got lopped in two gladly leapt at the chance to see his return, but robo-limbs? Really? It happened in ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Sith Hunters’, a comic by Henry Gilroy and Steven Melching in which Maul, driven by hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, manages to survive being separated from his lower extremities in the depths of the Naboo palace and escapes down a small hatch. Some Kenobi-cursing and insect-eating later he acquires a six-legged arachnid-like apparatus that he somehow manages to graft onto his body.
Darth Vader’s magic glove
Paul and Hollace Davids wrote six books as part of their ‘Jedi Prince’ series, which is strange considering how ridiculous things get in just the first novel. With the Empire defeated the New Republic comes under threat when a prophecy (it’s always a prophecy) reveals that a new Emperor will rise and they will be the one who finds and wields the indestructible right hand glove of Darth Vader. Okay, for one, what makes his right glove indestructible and not his left? Why make one that supposedly can’t be destroyed and one that burns perfectly well on, say, a funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor? Then we have the small matter of how the glove first of all survives the Death Star destruction (Luke cut off Vader’s right hand) before finding its way to the bottom of the ocean of the planet Mon Calamari. All that and we haven’t even covered how exactly ownership of the glove makes you Emperor. If a hermit crab crawled into it would the crab be Emperor? Apparently so.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
For fans of ‘Star Wars’ it simply doesn’t get much worse than the now infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’. The reasons are plentiful but perhaps the biggest crime of all is that the whole principal cast of the first film, including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, all agreed to do it. For the sake of their own public image we hope they did it for the big fat pay cheque. Fans could argue for days about the worst part of the show - Chewbacca having a son called Lumpy and a dad called Itchy, the weird make-up job attempting to cover Mark Hamill’s recently reconstructed face, the inclusion of rock band Jefferson Starship or Princess Leia’s closing musical number – but it’s best to look back upon this televisual travesty as one huge gelatinous blob of bad. So bad in fact that George Lucas himself pretends it never happened. But it did George. It did.
The Emperor and Luke get cloned
Clones are science fiction’s greatest weapon against dead characters staying dead. Regret killing off that great villain? Simple: clone that fool. In the Emperor’s case this starts out as a simple back-up system. In the event of his death he would transfer his spirit to a readily prepared clone from a near-endless and heavily-guarded supply. As for Luke Skywalker, his clone comes as part of the largely brilliant Timothy Zahn-penned ‘Thrawn’ Trilogy. The clone is made when insane Jedi Joruus C'baoth (also a clone) forces an Imperial scientist to make a special clone for him using the hand Luke Skywalker lost on Cloud City. The result is Luuke Skywalker. That’s not a typo by the way, apparently in the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy clones are christened by adding a U to the clone-ee’s name.
Jabba The Hutt’s camp uncle Ziro
Yep, you read that right. Before the acclaimed animated ‘Clone Wars’ series got off the ground there was a slightly less-acclaimed movie which saw Anakin Skywalker rescuing Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta. Jabba’s uncle Ziro is one of the film’s villains, a bright purple and camp Hutt with a high-pitched voice. When he later returns imprisoned in the cartoon series there’s this creepy scene in which Sy Snootles (the alien singer in ‘Return of the Jedi’) talks to the imprisoned Hutt and reveals that they used to have a relationship. Want to see two aliens making out? No? Well watch the video anyway.
Skippy the Jedi Droid
Remember at the start of ‘A New Hope’ when Luke and his uncle Owen purchased C-3PO and a red droid, which then malfunctioned, from the Jawas? Well that droid’s name is R5-D4, or Skippy to his friends. Admittedly his story is meant to be non-canon but we couldn’t resist telling you his barmy tale. You see Skippy is the galaxy’s only droid with Jedi powers, and without him none of the events following the opening 20 minutes of ‘A New Hope’ would have happened. It turns out, according to Peter David’s tale in the first issue of ‘Star Wars Tales’ for Dark Horse Comics, that Skippy sacrificed himself when he saw a vision that revealed to him that R2-D2 must be the one who ends up with Luke on Tatooine. Skippy later died when the Jawa sandcrawler was attacked by Stormtroopers. A true inspiration to us all.
Are there any crazy expanded universe tales we missed out? Let us know in the comments below…