Mara Jade Skywalker resides in the realm now labeled Legends, Luke’s wife in an alternate universe of sorts. There’s actually a good reason she’ll probably stay there.
When will Mara Jade be canon?
It’s a question I’ve seen pop up over and over on Twitter, Discord, Reddit — anywhere Star Wars fans typically gather online.
She’s been under the Star Wars Legends umbrella since 2014 with little hope of making the transfer to what’s now referred to as “canon.” Yet the unrest still rages on.
The canon vs. legends distinction is a clean divide between stories that came Before and After 2014, but it’s a messy division between Star Wars fans — to the point where some still choose to ignore “everything after Disney.”
To each their own, of course. You like what you like and don’t what you don’t — it’s your life.
But even though many Star Wars fans old and new might love to see Mara Jade as we met her in Timothy Zahn‘s original Thrawn trilogy … it’s probably never going to happen. There’s a good reason for this, though, according to Star Wars book editor Tom.
The Legends character who made their way into Star Wars canon
It can’t be easy to take a character whose story you know and love and change it to fit a new timeline. But one character — and his creator — have successfully established a separate presence in both canon and Legends.
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Thrawn is a name some Star Wars fans have known for going on 30 years. Though he’s a Timothy Zahn original and appeared in multiple Legends projects, it was assumed he, like most EU-exclusive characters of that era, would never cross over to canon territory.
But he’s appeared in going on four canon novels now (the newest, Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, Zahn assures us is going to be pretty great), as well as a limited comic series and key episodes of Star Wars: Rebels.
He’s not just a Legends character who shows up in canon. He has a completely new story but operates with the same personality and characteristics we know from Zahn’s original work.
The creative team has borrowed plenty of Legends names and story elements in various narratives to honor the characters that came first. Starkiller Base is named after Darth Vader’s apprentice in The Force Unleashed series of games and novel adaptions, for example. Jyn Erso’s father also shares a first name with Starkiller.
Star Wars book editor discusses how Star Wars legends make the jump
Grand Admiral Thrawn is a legacy Star Wars character in his own right. He wasn’t part of the original trilogy, but he was a main character in the books often credited for making the Expanded Universe possible.
Could other Legends characters follow? It might be better if the didn’t.
Del Rey Star Wars editor Tom stopped by the Star Wars Alliance podcast to talk all things Star Wars books. One of the hosts, an unapologetic Kyle Katarn fan (OK but same), prompted the question of how — and why — Star Wars Legends characters like Thrawn become canon.
“One of the things that is at least important for me … there’s a version of bringing a character to canon where you basically just create a character and slap Kyle Katarn’s name on them so you can tell people you did it.”
Tom and other members of the creative team in charge of telling Star Wars stories seem to be more interested in telling new stories that still resonate with fans, instead of repeating what’s already been done.
“If you’re not bringing that character into a story that makes sense for that character — both what sorr of honors and what made that character interesting and popular and resonate originally, while also perhaps doing something a little new with them … there’s always that question of: Are you just going to put the Legends name on a different character?”
He would much rather create an original character than copy-paste. And that, in the long-term, is going to make for better Star Wars storytelling across the board.
We could see Mara Jade in canon … but it wouldn’t be the Mara Jade so many know and love. She would have a different story; likely a different purpose. It’s easy to give a new character an old name just to please a crowd, but is that really what you want?
Just because Mara Jade isn’t canon doesn’t mean she doesn’t “count” or that the stories she appears in can’t still be enjoyed.
I prefer to think of Legends as an alternate timeline — one where Luke Skywalker teams up with the Emperor’s Hand and falls in love with her. It’s a different story than the one we get in the sequel era post-2014, but it’s still a good story.
It turns out you can love Legends characters and books and comics without all of it needing a “canon” designation. It’s all Star Wars. Everyone has their preferences, and you’re allowed to like what you like and ignore the things you don’t.
That’s what being a fan should be about. Star Wars is made for everyone to enjoy. That doesn’t mean you personally have to enjoy all of it.
Mara Jade isn’t the only female character Star Wars fans can love
If you love Mara Jade because she’s a strong female character in Star Wars — that’s great. If you love her for other reasons related to her backstory and character arc, that’s also great. But if you’re looking for more characters like her that exist in canon, there’s plenty to choose from.
- A Force-sensitive female who comes face-to-face with darkness: Rey Skywalker
- A tough fighter with a troubled past: Sabine Wren
- A strong woman who just happens to fall in love with a Jedi: Hera Syndulla
- A broken soul who escaped her Sith master and tried to do good: Asajj Ventress
You’ll find traits and stories you relate to and love anywhere you look for them if you give stories a chance. Mara Jade is just one character. There are so, so many more to love in addition to her.
Even if Mara Jade remains a staple of the Star Wars Legends expanded universe and nothing more, she’s still a character worth celebrating. She hasn’t gone anywhere. That’s the beautiful thing about books. If you take good care of them, they stay with you forever.
Which Legends characters in Star Wars do you want to see in canon?