Subject: The use of the EU in the Star Wars sequels [link to spoilers]
Posted on: 2020-01-03 13:42:10 UTC
When Disney announced that the old EU would no longer be even slightly canon, they promised us that this was a good thing: that it would let their new unified Star Wars canon draw on ideas from the EU without being bound to them.
Six or so years later, with the entire Sequel Trilogy behind us, we can now say for sure that they absolutely meant it.
(For spoiler prevention reasons, the Rise of Skywalker section of this post is restricted to the original Dreamwidth post. Spoilers for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are present throughout.)
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
My very first reaction after watching The Force Awakens was 'Oh! Darth Caedus!'. After having more time to think about it, I would like to moderate that description slightly: Kylo Ren is actually Darth Caedus cosplaying as Kyp Durron.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Darth Caedus, aka Jacen Solo, was the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. After having a few issues with his training, he took up the legacy of his grandfather Darth Vader under the tutelage of the hideously scarred Lumiya. In order to affirm and complete his alliegance to the Dark Side, he murdered a close family member.
The Kyp Durron connection is slightly less blatant, but Kyp was a) Luke's most powerful apprentice, b) seduced to the Dark Side by the spirit of Exar Kun, and c) went around blowing up planets with the Sun Crusher. He also had a strong connection to Han Solo, which in his case led to his redemption.
Interestingly, there's a case to be made that the early parts of Kyp's story are actually followed by Rey. Jakku is a far nicer place than Kessel, and scavenger is a less dangerous life than spice miner-slash-slave, but they're similar enough to make 'and then the crashed/abandoned Millennium Falcon and Han Solo got them off the planet' a pretty firm confirmation of the connection. (Come to think of it, Han and Kyp's adventures quickly involved multiple superweapons, including the Death Star prototype.)
The connection to Vector Prime, and the early stages of the New Jedi Order, is less clear, but I think it's still there: Han Solo's arc in the first few books of the era-defining NJO was 'after a family tragedy involving his son, Han runs away from Leia and takes up as a smuggler again'.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The accusation of pilfering from the EU is hardest to level at The Last Jedi. Despite the depth of the well it could be drawing from, a lot of the plot points of The Last Jedi appear to be new to Star Wars. A Jedi Master attempting to end the Jedi Order? A stern chase with fuel supplies a major issue? A reckless plan carried out by the protagonists which fails (and in fact makes things worse)? "This wasn't in the books!"
But despite that... I would lay decent odds that Rian Johnson read the Michael J. Stackpole and Aaron Allston X-Wing books at some point. Poe's stunt at the beginning of the film is exactly the sort of thing Wraith Squadron would come up with, and the general theme of 'we are alone and outnumbered, and actually running out of fuel' comes right from the Bacta War arc. Those books also feature the likes of mechanics becoming fighter pilots, ex-Imperials working with the good guys, and covert ops missions which go spectacularly wrong (I'm looking at you, Ton Phanan, and these are not tears in my eyes).
Also, the Allston books in particular were fun, in a way that The Last Jedi captured, but none of the other films really have. (I've always felt that Aaron Allston captured the lighthearted aspects of the original trilogy just as well as Timothy Zahn replicated the epic feel.)
Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker