Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker caused quite a stir among Star Wars fans when first released in 2019. Purists were extremely unhappy with the return of Palpatine and the fact that the story didn’t make any effort to redeem Luke Skywalker’s character. To this day, thousands of them are continuing to petition Disney to drop the film, and its predecessor, from official Star Wars canon.
This writer did not understand all the fuss even after seeing The Rise of Skywalker in the theater. But then I did something I never thought I would do: I started watching The Clone Wars. Then I latched on to The Mandalorian. I soon found myself being sucked in by the black hole that is Star Wars canon.
More Than Just Films
To the casual observer, the Star Wars universe is a collection of 11 films spanning some 42 years of filmmaking. The casual observer’s fandom may extend no further than watching the films and purchasing a couple of T-shirts from Nerd Kung Fu. But to someone who actually gets into Star Wars canon, the films barely scratch the surface.
In the world of fiction, canon is considered any material that has been officially recognized as part of the original story to which it applies. Star Wars canon obviously includes all of the material relating to the nine anthology films. It also includes The Clone Wars series, The Mandalorian, and the two extra films: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Also part of Star Wars canon is a selection of comic books and novels. However, all non-film material produced prior to 2014 – with the exception of The Clone Wars – was classified as part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe and later relegated to non-canonical status by Lucasfilm, the guardian of the franchise.
So what does any of this have to do with being sucked into the black hole of Star Wars? Everything, actually. When you combine all of the canonical and non-canonical material, you end up with an incredible volume of information that is almost too much to fully grasp.
An Entirely New Universe
You can watch the nine anthology films and the two extras multiple times over and think you have a full grasp of the Star Wars saga. Go no further and your ignorance will be bliss. But start watching The Clone Wars and the illusion will be shattered. You will come to understand just how little you know.
The Clone Wars was developed to answer some of the probing questions created by Episodes II and III of the film series. The animated TV series basically explores how Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker made it from the end of Episode II to the start of Episode III in the midst of fighting a war against Dooku and the separatists.
From The Clone Wars we learn a whole host of things including what started Skywalker’s path to the dark side and how Chewbacca entered the picture. The more episodes you watch, the more you realize what you don’t know about this entirely new universe.
This writer has come to understand why so many rabid Star Wars fans can’t get enough of the franchise. The Star Wars universe is already expansive enough. Yet every time new stories are developed that universe only gets bigger. There is enough to keep avid Star Wars fans busy for the rest of time. For everyone else who doesn’t really care about the depth of that universe, there are plenty of T-shirts to be had.