The Force Awakens proved to be a turning point for Star Wars as the first sequel film, and the Star Wars canon has changed a lot in the five years since the movie’s release,
It’s hard to believe it has been five years since the cinematic return of the Skywalker Saga with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This first installment in the sequel trilogy hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2015. While we got to see our favourite original trilogy heroes (sans Lando) again 30 years (in the timeline) later, the film opened new avenues and a renewed interest in the franchise that had not seen the light of the cinema in over a decade at that point in time. Star Wars did have a film released in 2008 with the launch of animated movie The Clone Wars, but the canon then was messy with the inclusion of Legends material.
In 2012, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for over $2 billion which meant, all Legends content that had spawned over almost forty years was now discarded. The reasoning behind this decision was simple. Many events that happened contradicted other happenings at the same time. One example is the constant questioning of whether Jedi Master Shaak Ti was still alive or not. Some sources said she was while others mentioned she was not.
Regardless of people’s opinions of the “Disney era” of media, Star Wars is here to stay and it will continue to thrive for many years to come.
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Star Wars has changed a huge amount since the release of The Force Awakens. The franchise has since included a vast array of new aspects that were not present a lot in the original Legends plethora of material. Some things include:
- More cultural diversity amongst human characters: Finn being a Black Stormtrooper, Rose Tico being the first Asian character to have a lead role in a Star Wars film and Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, and Diego Luna being the first Latino actors to play leading characters in Star Wars film and television projects, among others.
- Various pieces of media within the franchise’s new canon has LGBT+ characters. Examples of this include the female couple who kiss in The Rise of Skywalker, and the aunt of film character Snap, who is married to a woman who helped to raise their nephew.
- Exploring real life situations: Examples include the genocide of the Geonosians during Star Wars Rebels and slavery during the Clone Wars era.
- Women are being cast as the lead character: Daisy Ridley was cast as the lead character in the sequel trilogy of films and Felicity Jones was cast as the lead female protagonist of Rogue One.
Legends material becomes a part of new canon
Even now, some fans are still not happy that Disney has a say in what is canon and what is not. However, there have been some major parts of the old Legends material that have been repurposed for the new era of the franchise. Examples include:
- Grand Admiral Thrawn: The Timothy Zahn creation was a massive player in Legends to the point that he became a massive fan favorite. During the production of Star Wars Rebels, Dave Filoni included the character as an adversity for the Ghost crew and ended up being sucked into the Unknown Regions with lead character Ezra Bridger in the series finale. The character also got a mention in live-action during season 2 ofThe Mandalorian in the episode “Chapter 13: The Jedi” by Ahsoka Tano.
- Leia’s son turns to the Dark Side: In Legends, Leia and Han had twins: A daughter, Jaina and a son, Jacen. They also had a second son, Anakin who died an early death. During one storyline in a book series, Jacen succumbs to the Dark Side and becomes known as Darth Caedus. He is eventually killed by his own twin sister. In canon, Leia and Han have one son, Ben Solo, who discovers in his early 20s that his maternal grandfather is Anakin Skywalker, was Darth Vader. This had been kept a secret from him because his parents and Uncle Luke feared he would follow Anakin’s footsteps and fall to the darkness. All his life, he struggled with both sides pulling on him and eventually he destroyed his uncle’s Jedi Order and becomes Kylo Ren.
- Names are repurposed: Star Wars is no stranger to repurposing old Legends ideologies and rebranding them. Same applies to names. The Force Awakens re-used the name of Luke’s son, Ben Skywalker, in Lgends and gave it to his nephew, Ben Solo in canon. During the series finale of Star Wars Rebels, it’s revealed that Hera had been pregnant with Kanan’s child during much of the later events of season 4. Off screen, she gave birth to a son she named Jacen. The name “Jacen” is taken from Jacen Solo, the firstborn son of Han and Leia in Legends.
- The reusing of old plot devices: During The Rise of Skywalker, it’s revealed that Palpatine has been pulling the strings the whole time and that he was trying (and failing) to create clone copies of himself. He did this in Legends, too, in order to keep his own legacy alive. Talk about overly creepy.
The Force Awakens might not have been a favorite for fans, but the plot elements that were involved in its conception were ones that worked for A New Hope. If it wasn’t for this film, we would not have the changes — both positive and negative — that we have today. Fan favorites from Legends would not be canon.
Also, the talking points highlighted here would not have been possible without the inclusion of The Force Awakens. Changes are going to continue to happen as the years go on, and it will be thanks to Episode VII.
Did we miss any changes since the release of The Force Awakens? Be sure to tell us below!