Who decides 'Star Wars' canon? Meet the Story Group
The ultimate fan debate over what's part of the "Star Wars" canon just became serious business at Disney's Lucasfilm. Is Cade Skywalker about to go legit? Will Jaxxon the green rabbit ever get respect?
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
With news of Marvel taking back the reins of "Star Wars" comics, and the new film edging closer to its 2015 debut date, many fans are anxious to learn the fate of some of their favorite characters in what's referred to as the Expanded Universe (comics, books, and games).
According to recent reports by blogs such as Bleeding Cool and The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm and Disney have a brand-new committee of employees called the Story Group whose job it is to tackle the rancor monster known as the "Star Wars" canon.
The blogger buzz began this week with a series of tweets from one of the Story Group's members, Leland Chee. He's known best as keeper of the Holocron, an in-house database of every character, creature, vehicle, planet, weapon, and technology ever mentioned in the "Star Wars" universe created to help artists, writers, and game developers keep within continuity guidelines. Answering fans' questions on his Twitter page, Chee tweeted that Lucasfilm's Story Group will be deciding what's considered "Star Wars" canon by the company. Previously only "Star Wars" movies fell under that well-debated moniker.
"Star Wars canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group which @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."
When a curious fan asked if the goal of the Story Group was to "dispose of the hierarchy and have one cohesive canon," Chee responded with, "That's definitely a primary goal of the Story Group."
While this may sound like startling news to bloggers and those journalists keeping a Probot-esque lookout on every move made by Lucasfilm, most hard-core fans know this is old hat.
The truth is, the goals of Lucasfilm's Story Group are nothing new. In fact, the Story Group's own members (Chee and Hidalgo) gave presentations at last year's Star Wars Celebration Europe, as well as interviews on the fan-run podcast Forcecast, which can be heard here starting around 1:05:13.
According to Hidalgo, the Story Group began as an initiative from Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy that grew out of her philosophy that "creativity leads" -- meaning the story and artistry run paramount. "The Story Group is an embodiment of that idea," Hidalgo told ForceCast in October 2013.
While Hidalgo and Chee were unwilling to out any other members in the Story Group during the interview, Hidalgo did reveal, "It's a great team. There's a lot of new awesome people with great histories joining us right now."
In regards to the Story Group's involvement with the creative team working on the new "Star Wars" films, Hidalgo told ForceCast, "One of the things the Story Group is meant to do is to serve as a bridge behind all new storytelling going forward. We've all been working together on various projects far more than in the past that publishing and production and video games have connected. Now it's a lot stronger bond along all those media fronts."
The Story Group will also be involved in planning tie-in literature for the new movies. "That's definitely part of it," Chee told ForceCast. "Everything, every new fiction is going to be part of it, so whether it's video games, whether it's books -- that's all part of what Story Group handles."
Hidalgo added, "One way to look at it is we want to make sure that all these kinds of story points, all these forms of story going forward...each one of them can become an entry point for someone just new to 'Star Wars.' We want each of those things to be kind of meaningful. If someone's first exposure to 'Star Wars' is a game, book or comic it will mean something to everything that's coming up in the future."
Now that we know Expanded Universe characters might finally see their way into the hallowed halls of canon, fans will be debating which of their favorite books, comics, and games should end up on the big screen. However, whether or not we'll see a movie about Jaina and Jacen Solo or the clever villain Grand Admiral Thrawn is anybody's guess.
What about an "A-Team"-style TV show featuring the horse-headed Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh and the Gamorrean Voort "Piggy" saBinring fighting in their New Republic starfighter/commando unit made up of misfits called Wraith Squadron? Or maybe a Knights of the Old Republic mini-series? I'm still holding out for a feature-length movie featuring a certain green rabbit named Jaxxon. Hop to it, Story Group!