Was Star Wars Canon Sold on the Promise of a Plan?

Guest Post by TheMastersSkywalker

I can vividly remember sitting in the small front room of my local library six years ago and listing to the cars go by outside the large picture windows during the summer as I read a article about the Lucasfilm Story Group (SG). I was at the library because it would be two years before my grandmother’s house would have high speed internet and I would come down the mountain every day or so to check out the news and what was going on in the wider world. And the Story Group at the time was big news, some even considered it revolutionary (many don’t/didn’t know that Legends also had a proto-story group since the mid 90’s) and talked about how it was going to change the new canon.

Back during the canon change it seemed as if every fan, news site, and even Lucasfilm themselves were selling the Story group as part of this new unified canon and saying that the story group was helping to plan out the New Expanded Universe (NEU) and would be working with directors and writers and making sure everything followed along together to tell the same story and without any major canon hiccups. I remember this in part because up until April of last year it would come up in just about every “legends vs canon” argument and be used as a reason why the NEU was intrinsically better.

But after April and really after this last December I’ve had a number of people tell me that was not the case. That the Story Group was never sold as having a plan/road map or working with the directors or some of the other things. I heard it so much that I even started to question my memories myself. I started to wonder if the SG really had been sold as having a plan and guiding the NEU or if I was just imagining the last six years on the canon subreddit and the main subreddit.

So I did what any good historian would do and I googled that sh*t. I wanted to see what people were saying in 2014-2016 about the story group. Now this isn’t the entire range of interviews or quotes or even videos. I just chose a dozen to prove a point to myself on if I was going crazy or if the narrative had changed after December.

Going into this the inter-connectivity and one canon aspect is easy enough to see even with small road bumps like the Tie Interceptor in JFO so I didn’t feel the need to look at those. Instead I just looked at quotes focusing on their work with directors and guiding the canon. Now maybe what they said had to be changed. When these quotes were given maybe their had been a plan and the SG was to be given more power and things just got in the way. I mean who is really going to tell the director of a multi-million dollar movie that X conflicts with something from a book only ten thousand people read. Or maybe for the past six years all of the fans just had the wrong idea about what the SG was and what its role was in the NEU. Those are possibilities. But did they are the time try to sell the SG or planned EU as a major part of the NEU. I’ve had multiple multiple people tell me that was never the case. That it wasn’t a selling point for fans nor something anyone had said. So lets see if that’s the case or if I’m just going crazy

“We’ve thought this all through. The story group has put together a very carefully thought-through strategic plan for how we’re developing the stories and what those stories are and targeting filmmakers. We’ve looked at it up through, I would say, 2019, Episode IX.” http://collider.com/star-wars-episode-viii-story-kathleen-kennedy-george-lucas/ is kind of what I’m talking about

“So with the Story Group overseeing all of the content in film and television and elsewhere, we don’t have to retroactively make those changes. We can anticipate those changes. We can seed things in one medium [and see them grow] in another. So we might be seeding things in books or TV that you might not realize is substantial until years down the road. And if people knew what the roadmap looked like, they would just be floored.”

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/how-star-wars-authors-work-with-lucasfilm-and-earn-creative-control

The first point made at the panel was that the Story Group has a long game plan. They have major beats and ideas spanning probably years or maybe decades in advance (Note: no specific time frame was given) so as to be able to incorporate everything Star Wars is becoming. That was one of the reasons why the Expanded Universe – of which fans were so fond of – was retroactively classified as “Legends.” If Star Wars was going to move ahead, there was simply too much story told in the past thirty years for people who are new the franchise to come into and worry about. Wiping the slate clean just gave everyone a fresh start.

https://www.slashfilm.com/lucasfilm-story-group-star-wars-canon/

” Our roadmap for the future goes far, but not 30 years far.” Leeland Chee

https://twitter.com/HolocronKeeper/status/747128050932813824

Five days a week, in the foggy hills of San Francisco, 11 writers and artists discuss the minutiae of storm troopers. This is the Lucasfilm story group, and its members hold the keys to everything “Star Wars”: Under their guidance, the franchise’s narratives are linked no matter the platform, whether it’s television, games, theme parks, publishing, merchandise or, of course, film. With their ideas shaping each character and setting, they don’t see themselves as gatekeepers but as partners furthering the stories their creators want to tell.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/movies/star-wars-last-jedi-women-run-universe.html

“Star Wars Canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group which [Pablo Hidalgo] and I are both a part of. Story Group has a hand in all facets of Star Wars storytelling, including movies, TV, games, and publishing. More so than ever, the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy. [Disposing of the hierarchy and having one cohesive canon is] definitely a primary goal of the Story Group.”

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/01/07/lucasfilms-story-group-are-working-on-defining-a-single-coherent-canon/

> “We pretty quickly arrived at a content plan that stretches out for several years and we didn’t go looking for those ideas. Those existed internally. We were in a situation of looking for people to help us execute the ideas we had.” Kiri Heart head of the Story Group

https://movieweb.com/star-wars-movies-genres/

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” Kennedy said. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

https://www.polygon.com/2014/4/25/5653858/star-wars-expanded-universe-lucasfilm-story-group

“On the other hand, no other company has the same level of control as the Lucasfilm Story Group, which benefits from having an executive team full of lifelong Star Wars fans.”

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/star-wars-celebration-lucasfilm-story-group/

“Star Wars canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group which u/infinata [Pablo Hidalgo] and I are both a part of,”

Chee tweeted this week.

“Story Group has a hand in all facets of Star Wars storytelling, including movies, TV, games, and publishing. More so than ever, the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy.”

https://www.cnet.com/news/who-decides-star-wars-canon-meet-the-story-group/

And then finally something from the main Star Wars website its self.

” Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of Star Wars storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development “

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

” And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of Star Wars storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away…”

from https://www.starwars.com/news/the-legendary-star-wars-expanded-universe-turns-a-new-page

Now their are a lot more interviews I could have read, YouTube videos I could have listened to, and tweets I could have dug through. But I felt that this was enough to prove my point at least to me. The narrative among fans may be changing now (after a movie that did things some people said the SG/NEU would never let happen). And the SG’s role may have changed from what it was sold as (or just been misunderstood). But yes when the canon changed happened the Story Group was sold as having a plan and being central to ensuring a single cohesive canon.

One comment

  1. You mention “after April” and “this last December” and I am curious what your take is on what happened at those two point in time I am presuming you’re reference to April is in relation to Star Wars Celebration, while December has to do with The Rise of Skywalker. But I would be interested in hearing what you have to say about those moments in regards to the Story Group.

    Also, I like the research you did, and if people were telling you that the Story Group had not been billed that way, I can wholly understand the desire to seek out the information. Like you, I recall when they announced that the Expanded Universe would become “Legends” (a term I refuse to use) and was hopeful that they would be maintaining a carefully thought-out plan for the path ahead. Sadly, 6 years later, I do not feel that has been the case, and I genuinely question what the purpose of the Story Group even is at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

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