Your Guide to the Entire ‘Star Wars’ Expanded Universe
After the 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the 2016 film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, buzz has been at an all-time high for the franchise. Part of the beauty of this new-era of Star Wars is the canon that comes along with it.
Disney made a point of rebranding the old expanded universe of novels as “Legends,” tossing them out to make way for the new movies. This also paved the way for a whole new set of novels, comic books, and video games that rounded out the new canonical Star Wars universe.
The release of the new canon snuck by many of us, with much of it already out in the open. As of now, we have a handful of already-released novels, two cartoon TV series, and a whole bunch of comic books, all filling in the gaps before the events of The Force Awakens.
So where can you find the content that’s come out, and what’s on the horizon? We’ve gathered all the relevant new canon you could possibly need to prepare you for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.
1. The cartoons: The Clone Wars and Rebels
While we were all lamenting the disappointment of George Lucas’ newer trilogy, Cartoon Network was airing the surprisingly well-done Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon series. It’s not just for kids despite the animation, taking us through Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi’s story during the years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Currently there are over 100 episodes available to stream on Netflix. You certainly don’t have to watch everything in one go. There’s a comprehensive guide that tells you what to watch (and what to skip) here.
The other cartoon series is a more recent development, and as such, is far easier to catch up on. The story follows the exploits of the early Rebellion, set in the fairly recent aftermath of Revenge of the Sith. For Season 3, the series brought back a popular Star Wars Legends character, reintroducing Grand Admiral Thrawn into the franchise canon.
Rebels will wrap up with its fourth and final season in 2017. It’s currently available to stream in its entirety on Disney’s streaming site with a cable login.
2. Marvel’s comics: Featuring Darth Vader, Poe Dameron, and more
Given the fact that Disney owns Marvel, it only makes sense that the former would use the latter as an arm for its new canon universe. It began with Skywalker Strikes in 2015, following the adventures of Luke between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This was soon followed by Darth Vader, giving us the Sith Lord’s perspective as he deals with the consequences of losing the first Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. From there, we have Princess Leia, which shows us the exploits of its title character while she continues to fight for the good of the Rebellion.
The fourth comic series, Kanan: The Last Padawan, exists outside the Skywalker family, telling the story of Kanan Jarrus (the Jedi featured in Rebels). We see him cope with the fallout of the Jedi extinction as he attempts to hide his true identity from the people closest to him. The first issue was released in April 2015, while a full paperback with the first three issues was released in November 2015.
It was also announced that Marvel would release a comic series that would follow Darth Maul, taking “a look at the tattooed villain’s younger days before his short-lived appearance in the 1999 prequel film Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”
If you want to catch up on all the comics: Skywalker Strikes Vol. 1 compiles the first six issues, Darth Vader Volume 1, Volume 2, and Vader Down take you through the first 15 issues combined, and Princess Leia Vol. 1 collects Issues 1–5. Rounding things out is Kanan Vol. 1 (No. 1–6), and Doctor Aphra.
3. The new expanded universe novels: Aftermath and more
With the old expanded universe thrown out by Disney, it’s left the door wide open for a new series of novels. These initial installments fill in many of the gaps following both Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi, painting a picture of what it was like living under the rule of the Empire, as well as after its fall.
- Tarkin (Nov. 4, 2014): We all remember Admiral Tarkin’s brief role in A New Hope, but this is the novel that paints the entire picture. Think of it as an origin story of sorts, as we get more depth into the military arm of the Empire that exists outside of Darth Vader.
- A New Dawn (March 31, 2015): A New Dawn follows the early days of the rebellion in the same vein as Rebels. It tracks how two of the main Rebels characters, Kanan and Hera, first came across each other in their early days of resisting the oppression of the newly minted Empire.
- Heir to the Jedi (March 3, 2015): Despite coming out before A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi takes place far after the events of the early rebellion. It picks up with Luke Skywalker directly after A New Hope, plunging him straight into a high-stakes espionage mission at the behest of Princess Leia and Admiral Ackbar.
- Lords of the Sith (April 28, 2015): This represents our first real look at Darth Vader, directly following the events of his turn to the dark side and subsequent rebirth into the fearsome cyborg villain we all recognize. It’s his first test as the apprentice to his master, Emperor Palpatine, as they become stranded on a hostile world and are forced to work together to ensure their mutual survival.
- Dark Disciple (July 7, 2015): Here we see our first extended look at Ventress, the former Sith apprentice to Count Dooku. Set in the time directly following Attack of the Clones, the Jedi Council pairs Ventress with one of its own Jedi Knights in a mission to eliminate Dooku once and for all, making for an intriguing Dark/Light team-up.
- Aftermath: Journey to The Force Awakens (Sept. 4, 2015): Arguably one of the most important new-canon Star Wars novels, Aftermath shows us the time after Return of the Jedi, leading right into The Force Awakens. The Emperor may be dead, but the Rebellion is still stamping out Imperial factions throughout the Galaxy, echoing the tagline of the book: “The war is not over.”
- Bloodline (May 3, 2016): Here we have the second major novel that fills in the pre-Force Awakens gaps, taking place just six years before the events of the film. It focuses mainly on Leia, as she grapples with trying to form the New Republic’s government. Set six years before The Force Awakens, it contains tons of information about the state of the galaxy before the First Order, while giving us a rare peek inside Leia’s story post-Return of the Jedi.
- Aftermath: Life Debt (July 19, 2016): The next installment in the Aftermath series digs into the relationship between Han and Chewie, and their attempt to liberate the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk after the fall of the Empire. Soon, we’ll be getting a full-on origin story for Solo in his upcoming Anthology movie, but for now this will have to suffice.
- Ahsoka (Oct. 11, 2016): Ahsoka Tano was a fan-favorite when she first appeared as Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice in the Clone Wars animated series. What we don’t know is what became of her between her leaving the Jedi Order and her appearance on Rebels. This novel tells that story.
- Catalyst: A Rogue One Story (Nov. 15, 2016): Arriving just in time to provide some context for the Rogue One movie, Catalyst dives right into that tumultuous time period during the early Rebellion. It also provides us with details on the spotted past between Jyn Erso’s father, Galen, and Director Orson Krennic, while setting the stage for Rogue One.
- Aftermath: Empire’s End (Feb. 21, 2017): Wrapping up Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, Empire’s End dives into the Battle of Jakku, where the Empire met its final end at the hands of the New Republic.
- Thrawn (April 11, 2017): The 2016 Star Wars Celebration in London did far more than simply promote the franchise’s upcoming films. Now we have Thrawn, a book diving into the origin behind one of the most feared villains in the original Expanded Universe. The character’s creator, Timothy Zahn, returns to the fold to pen the novel, following up Grand Admiral Thrawn’s appearance in the Rebels TV series.
- Inferno Squad (July 25, 2017): The latest novel announced by Lucasfilm focuses on an elite team of Imperial operatives, tasked with infiltrating what remains of Saw Gerrera’s guerrilla fighters.
- Phasma (Sept. 1, 2017): Announced at 2017’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Phasma will cover the origin of everyone’s favorite (and wildly under-utilized) chrome-clad Stormtrooper.
4. The video games: Battlefront and more
The Battlefront video game series dates back over a decade, but the latest edition, released in November 2015, rewrites the story. A large majority of it features first and third person perspective play in the Rebellion’s war following the events of A New Hope.
The gameplay itself follows battles across Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, Jakku, Bespin, and Sullust, giving the player the option of fighting as either a Stormtrooper or a Rebel. It’s only continuing to evolve from there, having released DLC for Jakku, the Outer Rim, Bespin, the Death Star, and Rogue One.
In addition to Battlefront, there are currently four more planned games for the Star Wars franchise: Battlefront 2, LEGO Star Wars, an untitled game from the studio behind Dead Space, and another from Titanfall developer, Respawn.
E3 in 2016 saw the studio tease at a huge future for their gaming universe (video above), so stay tuned for tons more in the coming year.
5. What’s coming next: ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi’
In the same vein as Lucasfilm’s “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” campaign, “Journey to Star Wars The Last Jedi” will give fans an intriguing series of novels and comics leading into the December 2017 release of The Last Jedi.
Included under that banner will be the recently announced Phasma book, a five-series Captain Phasma comic series from Marvel, a YA novel titled Leia: Princess of Alderaan, and The Legends of Luke Skywalker, penned by Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Ken Liu. The Leia-centric story will take place in the lead-up to the events of A New Hope, while Luke’s book will cover his time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
6. What’s coming next: Star Wars: Battlefront II and Inferno Squad
The new Battlefront game, releasing November 2017, is deserving of its own entry here for a few reasons. First off, its promised single-player campaign mode features a canonical story, and second, its tie-in novel releasing July 2017 carries some major implications of its own. The game’s story puts you in the boots of Iden Versio, the leader of the elite Imperial “Inferno Squad,” and her 30-year quest for vengeance against the Rebellion, running all the way up into the timeline for The Force Awakens.
The Inferno Squad tie-in novel is in stark contrast to the last Battlefront book, Twilight Company, that covered the exploits of an elite team of Rebel commandos. More than that, it gives us a unique look inside the Empire, past villains like Palpatine and Vader, and deep into the world of the soldiers who fought for a cause they saw as just.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!