Shortly after its purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney announced that all works previously under the “Expanded Universe” (EU) banner would no longer be canon and, instead, be rebranded as Star Wars Legends. Many fans were not happy.
As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
In the years since then, however, there have been some steps towards reconciliation. Disney has brought some characters into canon via the films, comics, and Rebels television series. There have also been subtle nods towards the Expanded Universe in the canon works as well. My favorite example is Kylo Ren’s birth name, Ben, because that was the name of Luke’s son in Star Wars Legends.
As nerds, though, we can be greedy. In that spirit, here’s a list of Expanded Universe characters who might appear in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX!
5. Pretty Much Any Dark Jedi
Before the term “Sith” was well-known to Star Wars fans, there were the “Dark Jedi.” In the Expanded Universe, it seemed like a Jedi recruit was just as likely to turn to the dark side than complete his or her training. These people went dark like it was going out of style.
This would, arguably, be the easiest group of characters to work into the story for Episode IX. At the very least, we could see some very familiar names pop up. How? By giving these names to some of Luke’s (canon) former students, the Knights of Ren. Take your pick: Kyp Durron, Jerec, Joruus, or Exar Kun. Even old Sith Lords’ names would work. Maybe some of the Knights of Ren are female, so we could see a Lumiya on the big screen. The characters wouldn’t have to be anything like their Star Wars Legends counterparts. Simply hearing the names would put a smile on fans’ faces. I know I’d go nuts if I were sitting in a theater and heard Kylo Ren utter the name Revan.
4. Garm Bel Iblis
Abrams might have a tough time working this character into the film, but I think it can be done. In the EU, Garm was, essentially, the Corellian version of Bail Organa. He served in the Old Republic Senate and the Imperial Senate, before forming his own resistance to the Empire and eventually merging with Organa and Mon Mothma’s Rebellion. Later, he became an elder statesman of sorts in the Alliance and the New Republic.
If Abrams tries to stick too closely to Star Wars Legends, he might run into some problems. Garm would be into his 80s or 90s by the time of the events of Episode IX. Some politicians and leaders are advanced in age but still active. It might be tough to find a place for him in the story, though. It would be a lot easier to age him down a bit, making him around Leia’s age.
Speaking of Leia, considering Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing, there’s a role to be filled within the story. Garm could be that elder statesman and mentor, a remnant of the political influence of the Republic and the old Rebellion. It wouldn’t have to be a major role, but he could fit. In Legends, Corellia was kind of like the Texas of the galaxy, always with a fiercely independent streak. It would follow that they’d have a robust planetary defense force and would make an Alamo-style last stand against the First Order. This could be the cause around which Poe Dameron and the other Rebellion leadership rally. He might have been among Leia’s “allies in the Outer Rim” that the Resistance attempted to contact in The Last Jedi.
3. Prince Xizor
A favorite of 90s kids everywhere and anyone who’s familiar with Shadows of the Empire, Prince Xizor would be an interesting addition to the new canon. In Legends, Xizor was the premier crime lord of the galaxy, boss of the Black Sun syndicate, and, supposedly, second to only the Emperor in power and influence.
The good news for Xizor fans everywhere is that The Clone Wars TV series laid the groundwork already. The show also featured the Black Sun rather prominently. In canon, the Falleen, Xizor’s species, make up the Black Sun’s leadership. Xizor was never named as being among them, but he easily could be. Or maybe he rose to power after the war. Regardless, I’d pay good money to see a live-action Falleen on the big screen.
What part would Xizor play in the narrative, though? I can’t help but think of Leia’s unnamed allies from The Last Jedi again; the ones who failed to come to her aid. An ally who doesn’t come to your aid doesn’t sound like an ally to me. It would make more sense if the supposed ally wasn’t really a good guy. Perhaps Leia had struck some sort of deal with certain crime syndicates, who often operate in the Outer Rim. Maybe the Black Sun didn’t see a profitable way of assisting Leia during the Battle of Crait, but they could still honor the agreement and fight against the First Order in IX.
2. Mara Jade
Now things are getting interesting. According to multiple reports, J.J. Abrams has put out a casting call for a woman aged 40-50 and the name “MARA” has been used. In the Legends canon, Mara Jade Skywalker was a former dark side user, a powerful Jedi, and eventually Luke Skywalker’s wife and mother of his son. 40-50 would definitely be the correct age for her.
The problems are immediately apparent, though. It would take one hell of a retcon to explain how Luke had a secret wife. I guess it’s possible that no one, not even Leia or R2, knew about her. That seems unlikely, though. It’s also unlikely that a new-canon Mara Jade would be a trained Force user or Jedi pupil. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi made it clear that Luke (and then Rey) was the last Jedi.
Still, Mara Jade has always been a fan favorite character. This would more likely be a case of Abrams naming a character in order to hint at the Legends version. A Mara Jade could be another mentor to Rey (after all, two of her mentors have died already). Maybe she would act as a mother figure, or she could actually be Rey’s mother. After all, who’s to say that Kylo Ren was telling the truth when he told Rey her parents were just filthy junk traders?
1. Grand Admiral Thrawn
This final character is the only Legends character on this list that has already been brought into canon. The new version of Thrawn first appeared last year on Star Wars: Rebels. He originally comes from author Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy. Grand Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo (typically known as “Thrawn”) was the last serious Imperial threat to the New Republic after Palpatine and Vader died. He was the most brilliant of The Emperor’s commanders; a tactical genius.
Thrawn is probably the one EU character that fans mourned the most when Disney took over Star Wars. His return to canon on Rebels and in Timothy Zahn’s new novel Thrawn was celebrated. In the new novel, Thrawn’s origins are similar, but not identical to, his story in the old canon. In both the book and in Rebels, Thrawn’s characterization is perfectly in step with that of his Legends counterpart.
The main problem would be fitting Thrawn into the narrative of Episode IX. Although we don’t know much about the upcoming film, we already know it will include at least two primary antagonists, Kylo Ren and General Hux. Adding a third villain could make things messy. On the other hand, maybe Thrawn’s loyalty wouldn’t be to the First Order, the successor of the Empire. Perhaps he would emerge as an unexpected hero and could bring his people, the Chiss, together with the Resistance. It could work. Any Star Wars fan would kill to see a live-action Thrawn in theaters.
The Hope of Star Wars Legends Fans Everywhere…
Let’s be honest, I did a lot of wishful thinking in this article. Some characters are more likely to show up in Episode IX than others, but they’re still very unlikely at best. Still, it’s fun to think about. Either way, for fans of the old Expanded Universe, the wide pantheon of that old canon is still worth celebrating. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get lucky. Ron Howard saw fit to include the Cloud-Riders in Solo, for example. Nothing’s impossible. For now, much like the Rebel Alliance, all we have is hope.
Do you miss the old Star Wars Expanded Universe? Do you want to see more Star Wars Legends characters in the new canon? Let us know in the comments!