Canon is a tricky concept for fans of fictional universes. Whether it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Star Trek,” “Fast & Furious,” or any number of franchises, devoted fans love to analyze every aspect of the films, TV shows, books, and whatever other mediums the universe has been explored in, desperately looking for deeper understanding. And perhaps no more diligent fanbase exists than those people who love “Star Wars.” But it’s the insistence (and frustration) by some fans on knowing which canon is currently being honored and which books, comics, and previous material no longer “matters” that drove a recent social media discussion led by Matt Martin, the Lucasfilm Story Group Creative Executive.
You see, “Star Wars” has an interesting relationship with canon. For decades, the universe was built by the films of George Lucas and the dozens of other writers and creators that worked on comic books, TV shows, novels, and other media that comprised the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe (EU). But when Disney took over, that was all swept away and the canon was streamlined to include just the films and select other works. Everything else was called “Star Wars Legends.” Basically, the content not “recognized” as true canon was sort of put into an alternate universe version of the galaxy far, far away. This created a divide with fans, with many upset that spending decades reading and studying all that EU material is somehow now void because Disney isn’t following that continuity any longer.
For Matt Martin, he just wants fans to understand that canon is what you make of it. And at the end of the day, “It’s all fake anyway.”
“So to summarize: there is a reason that we need to internally know what is and isn’t canon so we can keep our line of official storytelling as aligned as possible but that doesn’t mean fans can’t individually pick and choose what they want to accept as true,” Martin wrote. “It’s all fake anyway so you can choose to accept whatever you want as part of the story.”
He continued, “If you choose to only accept the real official canon: cool. If you like to mix and match between continuities: cool. If you like to make up your own stories: also cool.”
That last comment seems to have also struck a chord with diehards that don’t necessarily enjoy someone calling their beloved “Star Wars” universe “fake.”
To help further clarify, Martin took the time to explain even more about what his idea of canon is and why fans shouldn’t be so worried about what is and isn’t part of the “official” lore.
“But my point is that fans need not be burdened by putting so much emphasis on the canon. A story being “canon” isn’t a sign of its value,” he tweeted. “The importance of canon to the storytelling itself and the storytellers making content in that world is key. For the audience, the importance of canon’s mileage varies based on the individual. If they choose to strictly adhere to it or not…”
Martin added, “It’s just trying to say that the content itself isn’t inherently more important or better because it’s canon. There are a ton of great EU stories out that that are no longer canon but no less awesome. And fans can make up their own mind about what they care to consume.”
He went on in a number of subsequent tweets exhaustively answering fan questions and comments. Clearly, Martin is a lover of “Star Wars” (kinda comes with working at Lucasfilm, I imagine), but he’s also someone that doesn’t want anyone’s excitement for a franchise diminished because the books that they read 20 years ago are no longer recognized by the upcoming “Star Wars” films and TV shows.
And that’s the thing about canon, which is pretty well summed up by Martin—you get what you give. If you’re someone that wants to know every little detail about every adventure of the Jedis, Sith, bounty hunters, and Wookies, read the Legends material and enjoy. Let that be your own “headcanon.” However, if you just want to sit back and enjoy “Star Wars” as it’s laid out for you, then enjoy the ride. Martin and the folks at Lucasfilm aren’t going to stop you from doing either one.