This past weekend, DC Comics pulled off the second year of its online fan convention, DCFanDome. If you’ve kept up with the news, then you would have seen that DC had a slew of projects to announce, from video games, to TV show updates and first looks at new movies. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from the world of Star Wars and, quite frankly, pretty much every other mega-media company out there. But when it comes to DC Comics’ TV and films specifically, the company is doing something quite unique — releasing content that takes place in completely separate timelines.
As a baseline, the Star Wars films and TV shows all operate on one line of canon. We’re strictly looking at everything post-Disney’s acquisition. So that includes all the Skywalker saga films, Disney+ live-action TV shows, and the 3D animated series. (Under Disney, Star Wars also has canon video games, books and comics. But for simplicity, we’ll just look at TV and movies.)
That means the events that happen in shows like The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, and Resistance all connect and relate back to the films. And as such, they officially expand the lore of the canon that was established in the main films. This is for the exception of Star Wars: Visions, which we will get back to in a bit.
But DC operates on another level. Of course, they have a lot of source material to work off of — they are building movie and TV worlds based on years worth of comic books. So, for instance, you have the shows that air on the CW. The Flash, Supergirl, Green Arrow, Black Lightning. The list goes on and on.
Though, the thing to note is that those shows are on a timeline that is completely separate from the DCEU films that have been released in theaters. And to add another layer of depth to it, not every superhero show on the CW was a part of this main timeline. It wasn’t until the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, for example, that shows like Black Lightning were officially consolidated into the Arrowverse world.
And, as mentioned, you have the DC Extended Universe. It’s DC’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is essentially the leading pioneer in building the most extensive interconnected cinematic universe. But here’s the thing: not every new DC movie that comes out is a part of the DCEU. You have your staples like Batman v. Superman, Justice League, and newer films like the Aquaman and Wonder Woman solo movies. But then there are other films like Joker and The Batman that exist and are definitely from DC, but they’re not part of the DCEU at all.
So what gives? We’re so used to seeing clean timelines and canonical works under Disney where, on the surface, DC’s strategy should seem like one big mess. But we can tell by DC’s immense popularity that this strategy is a success. So, with that in mind, should Star Wars follow DC’s lead by operating on multiple timelines and universes?
Pros to the DC method
Right out the gate, as mentioned, DC has seen success with its multiple projects. It allows you to take a vast breadth of work and transform it into many projects at once.
Take, for example, Star Wars: Visions, which was Disney’s first foray into non-canon, on-screen material. Disney didn’t have to explicitly say this wasn’t canon. But still, many Star Wars fans absolutely loved the anime anthology series. And it shows that we have the capacity to soak in Star Wars stories without being bothered that they’re not a part of the immediate canon. Not only that, but not being bogged down by the canon means the storytellers have more liberty to create the unique stories they want without restriction. And I’m sure that helps things get off the assembly line quicker too.
We already know we’re in for quite a lot in the future when it comes to Star Wars. But imagine the creativity we could get if Lucasfilm allowed someone to make a one-off story a la The Batman or Joker. Sure, it wouldn’t matter to the canon. But if a writer and director have a brilliant story to tell in the world of Star Wars, what does it matter if it’s canon or not? (That, of course, is the million-dollar question behind all of this.)
Cons to the DC method
With that said, it’s not like Star Wars implementing DC’s method would be without flaw. For one, expanding the quantity may mean that some quality is sacrificed. Take the CW shows. While all have very passionate fanbases, these shows aren’t necessarily Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or even The Mandalorian for that matter. Yes, we could get more Star Wars TV shows on a different timeline, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be as great as the Favreau/Filoni ones.
It’s also possible that having too many timelines may, in fact, be too confusing for audiences. When Star Wars: Visions came out, we didn’t immediately know if it was canon or not. Now imagine if that were expanded to multiple shows and movies. Think, the LEGO Star Wars specials. We’d all be asking, wait, did Rey really travel back in time to visit a young Luke Skywalker? Or did Poe Dameron really visit a haunted vacation resort on Mustafar?
At that rate, Star Wars as we know it may get too big for its own good. And considering the Skywalker saga’s canon is seen by some as a sacred timeline, this much uncertainty about what’s “real” and what isn’t could potentially muddle up the value of the franchise as a whole.
So, the most important thing to look at here is the fact that DC’s on-screen world is derived from comic books. This is the grandfather of all continuity-muddling content. But for generations, readers have accepted that the canon will change. And each story arc will come with different backstories and events for the classic characters they know.
Star Wars, on the other hand, doesn’t have this comic book background. But the world that George Lucas created has opened it up to being so much more than the original trilogy. The Legends books (while no longer canon), are still cherished today for the excellent stories they told and characters they introduced, for example. So at the end of the day, the debate comes down to the types of Star Wars stories we’d like to see on screen and how much attachment to the canon we are willing to give up.
Would you love to see Star Wars follow in DC’s footsteps, or should they continue making as much canon material as possible? Let us know in the comments.