JJ Abrams and the Quest for CanonJanuary 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Comic Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, Disney, Episode VII, JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Opinion, Sequel Trilogy, Speculation, Star Wars Books, Star Wars News, Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars, Video Games | 1 Comment
Yesterday Leland Chee Tweeted that the Story Group at Lucasfilm has full control on what is and isn’t canon in the Star Wars Universe. That in and of itself has spawned a plethora of stories across the interwebs today. But I’m going to take you farther down the rabbit hole, I’m going to show how what Leland Tweeted yesterday opens up a whole new can of worms.
Back in May of last year The Wrap ran an interesting story on the problems that JJ had with the rights to who owns what with Star Trek. You see the rights to Star Trek are split between CBS Productions, who owns the right to The Original Series, and Paramount who owns the rights to the movies, both old and new. JJ had a grand vision for his new Trek, he wanted one cohesive canon that included his movies as well as books, comics and video games. He wanted to expand Star Trek in an official way that it never had before, he wanted everything to count, or at the very least a say in what does count towards canon.
JJ never got that. CBS still put out TOS merchandise and DVDs and everything ended up competing for the limelight. Who’s Kirk? Chris Pine or William Shatner? To sell the movie maybe we should have only seen Pine and not Shatner as well.
But after Leland’s tweets yesterday it seems that JJ may have got his wish, only in the Star Wars Universe instead. So let’s take a look at the most recent development for Star Wars; Marvel will start exclusively publishing Star Wars in 2015. Now everything that Dark Horse has produced over the past 20+ years will transfer over to Marvel at that time, but that doesn’t mean that Marvel can start reprinting old Dark Horse comics. According to Aub Driver at Dark Horse, in order to do that Marvel would have to buy the rights to what they want to print from Dark Horse, and as of right now a back catalog purchase from Marvel’s end has not happened.
So what does this mean? Well for starters it means that as of January 1st of 2015 the only NEW Star Wars comics will come from Marvel. With the way things are looking now, most of Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics will finish their respective runs in August of this year. Why is that important? That 4 month gap between August and January gives comic shops a chance to sell all of their current Dark Horse Star Wars comics, potentially we may not see a new Star Wars comic for a full 4 months.
What it also does is gives the fans a chance to prepare themselves for new Star Wars stories. Sadly it also leaves enough time for people to forget about all the great work that Dark Horse has done.
So this all comes down to canon. Right now the only things that count towards canon are the 6 movies and The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels will soon join that list. Having a story group in place at Lucasfilm that is in charge of what’s canon opens the door to seeing books, comics, TV shows and video games joining one massive cohesive canon.
Now this is what I see happening over the next couple of years until the release of Episode VII. First and foremost Marvel’s Star Wars will count towards canon. I have a strong suspicion that the series will be a direct lead in to Episode VII. This is how I see it happening:
If Episode VII takes place 20 years after Return of the Jedi, new fans will need to be brought up to speed. If the new series starts in January and it’s on time all year long then we could see 12 issues that directly leads in to the release of Episode VII in theaters. Now let’s say that one of the characters from Rebels is a Force sensitive who was born shortly after Order 66 and joins Luke shortly after RotJ, we could have 12 issues that show Luke starting a Jedi Academy and training his first student. But it would have to be more than that. There could be time jumps in the series and it could finish off with the birth of Han and Leia’s child(ren) or it could finish off with them joining the Jedi Academy and then BOOM! Episode VII hits theaters.
This is just one way that ties in Rebels to the Sequel Trilogy and brings in the Marvel comic as official canon. We could also see video games introduced that deals with Jedi training or involves plots from Rebels and they’re canon.
But this is leaving out one major component of the publishing arm: Del Rey. Right now for 2014 we have Honor Among Thieves and Maul: Lockdown scheduled for this year. After March there isn’t anything on the schedule until Kevin Hearne’s Luke Skywalker novel comes out. Christie Golden’s Sword of the Jedi trilogy and Paul Kemp’s doulogy are all on hiatus. So what does Del Rey do to fill in the gap? They’ve hinted that they have some cool announcements to make. Right now I think there is a real potential that we could see Del Rey start telling Clone Wars stories that officially count as canon. There’s at least two seasons worth of stories that could be told in books.
Ultimately what happens is that JJ’s wish for Star Trek comes true with Star Wars. Books, comics, games and TV shows that all count towards one big canon where the payoff is seen across the world in movie theaters starting in 2015.