‘Star Wars’: Simon Kinberg Talks EU Influence on New Movies and TV Shows

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star wars episode 7 expanded universe Star Wars: Simon Kinberg Talks EU Influence on New Movies and TV Shows

Screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg has his finger in several pies right now; in addition to being the primary screenwriter for this May’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and co-writer on next year’s Fantastic Four comic book movie franchise reboot, Kinberg is also writing one of Disney and Lucasfilm’s upcoming Star Wars film spinoffs – features that highlight characters who’re “not part of the overall saga” according to Disney CEO Bob Iger – as well as serving as an executive producer on the animated Star Wars Rebels TV series, which premieres in the second half of 2014 on the Disney XD channel.

It was during the 2014 WonderCon that Kinberg fielded reporters’ questions about the next X-Men installment, as well as Chronicle director Josh Trank’s F4 movie reboot (read our breakdown for the juiciest details the screenwriter had to offer). He also spoke about the upcoming Star Wars films and TV shows and their relationship to the franchise’s “Expanded Universe” material.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe, for those unfamiliar, is composed of the stories that either take place long before any of the live-action Star Wars movies, over the decades after the events in the chronological last film installment (Return of the Jedi), or in between previous cinematic installments, so as to fill in the cracks in the overarching narrative. While the EU encompasses multiple platforms (books, video games, etc.) and is considered canon by many fans, the long-standing rumor is that the next wave of films will feature original narrative material that doesn’t necessarily adhere to EU continuity.

Star Wars 7 Characters Based on Expanded Universe Star Wars: Simon Kinberg Talks EU Influence on New Movies and TV Shows

Kinberg confirmed to IGN that, with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII and the developing spinoff films, the approach behind them is based on “honoring the original movies and yet wanting to take a step forward too and tell a new story too.” However, when asked if that meant the EU is off-limits altogether, Kinberg said:

“It’s certainly not off limits, it’s certainly inspiring. I’m working on an animated show for them as well [in] ‘Star Wars Rebels’ that will take inspiration from everywhere, but I know for the movies the canon is the canon and the canon is the six films that exist.”

We’ve already gotten hints that the Star Wars EU is having an influence on the Episode VII storyline; after Iger confirmed that Abrams’ film picks up in real-time after Return of the Jedi (some thirty years later), our Kofi Outlaw broke down many of the casting/plot rumors for the movie which suggest that there’ll be resemblances between the Expanded Universe continuity and Episode VII. However, based on Kinberg’s comments, it’s more about taking inspiration, rather than directly adapting characters and/or events from the EU to the big screen. (So no, Benedict Cumberbatch will not be playing Grand Admiral Thrawn, as cool as that would be.)

Do you agree that the Star Wars canon is “the six films that exist” so far and no other previously-released material? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!


Star Wars: Episode VII opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Source: IGN

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  1. The ultimate canon is of course the six films for the simple reason that is what the vast majority of people know anything else even Clones War or the new Rebel are going to be seen by a fraction of those who see the movies.

  2. Agreed, while I personally have not read any of the extended universe. I can imagine that Abrams and Co. would want to create a new trilogy and be limited by having to fall into the EU. The EU has expanded the Star Wars Universe enormously and while that would allow the movies to choose from a variety of content to base a new trilogy off of, it would also force them to create an adaptation of other work as opposed to a new narrative.

    I think there will be nods to the EU throughout this trilogy, planets, events, maybe some character references. But as a whole I would prefer them to draw parallels as opposed to copy exact stories.

    My personal opinion anyway.

  3. Actually it wouldn’t force an adaptation of any single book or trilogy. There are easily a number of periods in the expanded universe, such as the time between the Dark Nest Trilogy and the Legacy of the Force series that has plenty of space for a new original story to be written or they could go beyond the Legacy of the Force series. With the age of the original actors that would even be appropriate instead of trying to have Ford, Hamill and Fisher trying to play characters a decade younger themselves. I see no reason what so ever that a new original story line couldn’t be written allowing the movies to exist on their own WITHOUT invalidating any of the amazing and wonderful story lines and canon within the Expanded Universe. As someone who has extensively read the EU I guarantee this is possible, and I cannot see why they would risk alienating all the fans like myself who have spent the last 20 years faithfully reading the novels and other works of the EU.

    • With all respect meant, the readers of the EU make up probably 1% of the people who will watch a new star wars. Of that group probably 90% will watch it no matter what. My point being from a marketing perspective it isn’t profitable to try to adhere a blockbuster to such a small percentage of your viewers

      • I think that you are wrong, respectfully. I believe that the huge success of comic book movies proves that catering to the one percenters who are invested in the subject matter will translate to box office success. Things wouldn’t become popular in the fanboy community if they weren’t good I guess.

        • Very true, comic geekdom is at an all time high and the opinions of those viewers have definitely mattered much more than the past. But you look at the Marvel Universe as well and they haven’t been afraid to change and deviate material from the comics in order to suit their story. Don’t know if this counts as a spoiler any more but look at Iron Man 3 and what they did to the Manadarin. Now that’s a different argument for whether that worked or not but my point is the source material isn’t a black and white script for these guys.

          Again, not having read EU I can’t comment to specific stories and how they would fit. But I would still like to see an original story, with the possibility of utilizing elements from EU plots and characters.

          • Pardon my intrusion… IM3′s Mandarin got the nod it deserved on the Thor2 Blu ray with “All Hail to the King” one shot. Fixed everything so now its not as bad as it was. Still stings a bit, but its all good now and that was due solely to the outcry from us “fanboys” that made our selves heard at every Con there after.
            So yeah… our input does end up having weight.

            • Yeah, but still, no Marvel movie has been a direct comic book adaptation. They are a perfect example for why Disney will definitely violate EU canon. Sure, they might pick and choose elements to use in various stories, but the EU is no longer canon. It barely was in the first place.

              George Lucas “There are two worlds here, there’s my world, which is the movies, and there’s this other world that has been created, which I say is the parallel universe—the licensing world of the books, games and comic books. They don’t intrude on my world, which is a select period of time, [but] they do intrude in between the movies. I don’t get too involved in the parallel universe.”

            • The Star Wars EU was never canon, confirmed by George Lucas and Kennedy. They never said that the EU universe was part of the canon.

              Also there isn’t enough fans of the EU universe to make it canon anyway, so don’t expect them to follow those rules or something. We will see cameos of the EU in the new Star Wars universe, which in my opinion is the best solution, as both audiences will leave satisfied.

    • They can’t work it around the EU, man. Unless they’re going to start directly adapting the EU into movies (which would be bad), then they are going to have to fit the movies into the EU, which means that some of the most significant events that are universe affecting are happening off screen.

      For example, if you try to sandwich something between Dark Nest and Legacy of the Force, then you are subject to both trilogies. If the movies don’t break canon, then they will be subject to the EU. It just doesn’t work.

      I know it could *technically* be done, but frankly, the result would be a Star Wars that I don’t want to see (as someone who has read my fair share of EU), much less, the 99% of people that don’t even know what the EU is.

      Bending to the will of the EU is a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever heard one. Unfortunately.

      • They cant really use the EU, as people have stated its readers make up such a small % of the fan base. I myself have only read the thrawn series, tales of the cantina, shadows of the empire, the yuuzong vong and dark nest series. I wouldnt mind if they introduced the YV into canon because i personally thought they were an awesome enemy especially characters like Nom Anor. But you cant please everyone, and I will love the movies as long as they dont do stupid things like the prequel trilogy did. Take inspiration as long as its not bad inspiration like when they killed off Chewie, that should be retconned asap. I know they will never do it, but i would LOVE to see Anakin Solo, hes was a badass.

      • I have read my share of EU novels and comics. Star by Star and the Legacy comics that feature the character Cade Skywalker would make excellent movies. Legacy was a great series, probably the best Dark horse has put out. All the intangibles for a successful movie. Action, Love, family, betrayal, and did I say action. Legacy is definitely the right name for this series. The Skywalker Legacy!!


    • “WITHOUT invalidating any of the amazing and wonderful story lines and canon within the Expanded Universe”

      Excuse me while I laugh.


    • Because they’d alienate all the fans like me. And you think Abrams and Kasdan are going to sit down and read all the EU books and comics? No.

    • it wont work the characters are ruined and so is the galaxy we must ignore those abominations

  4. I have read most of the EU novels and loved them all, but unless they are going to recreate something that has already been written, there is very little room to do anything new. The EU novels cover large periods of time, in a very detailed way. So many universe altering events take place (chewie, anikan, mara, jacen)…it would be a complete disservice to moviegoers if those events were merely glossed over or referenced in favor of new material fitting into EU canon. Believe me, i would love nothing more than to see the EU novels turned into movies, but that is not realistic or creatively satisfying. I hate that I am saying this, but in order for the new movies to be truly great, they will probably have to break with EU continuity and go forward as their on canon.

  5. EU mostly has grabage level stories. Pickikng just some stuff of it is actually a smart move.
    And yes 6 movies are the only canon. Lucas and co have created numerous levels of canon(which is absurd to begin with) simply because they want to hook their fanbase. How many people read fanfic stories? Yeah right. And what if you say its canon?

    • Many Star Wars books have been bestsellers. No, the readership can’t compare to the numbers of people who watch the films, but that is true of almost any book, compared to films.

      The EU books have been very widely read, as far as science fiction books go. They’re not “fanfic.”

    • I thought Lucas said that the “Force Unleashed” video game’s plot was cannon?

      • the only canon from the video games that Lucas confirmed(because thats his favorite star wars game) is knights of the old republic lore

  6. As a big time fan of the EU and owning and having read many of the books that continued the story after RotJ… I’m a fan of them NOT adhering to the EU. The books are fantastic, but that’s not my point. I would rather see something brand new. Some of the book stories would be great to adapt (the Yuuzhan Vong war and the Fate of the Jedi series are my personal favorites) but I like them not strictly adhering to the EU. For one thing, most of the movie fans likely haven’t read all the EU books. For another thing, I can see the books continuing after RotJ being written with the intent to continue that story, not expecting more movies to continue it. Now that movies are… why not make them different? Same as how I feel about comic book movies – I love when they find inspiration from source material rather than directly adapting the stories, because it gives something to new to both fans of the movies and fans of the comics. Give us something new, and I’ll look forward to being surprised and impressed at a new creative vision.

    Also, it doesn’t step on the EU’s toes, because when they don’t directly adapt those stories, there is no chance whatsoever of the books being “tarnished” in any way. We never have to watch the movie and then say “well, that story was done better in the books.” It can be brand new, and we can enjoy both versions of the continued story after RotJ.

  7. Canon should only consist of the six movies, tv movies and of course the Star Wars Holiday Special lol.

  8. Revan, Exar Kun, the Mandalorian Wars and basically everything Old Republic better be canon. That **** is better than some of the movies.

    • Not to mention Emporer Xizor!! They could make an excellent Xizor out of casting Ray Park or someone like John Walker.

    • It is not. According to Lucasfilm, only the six films, TCW and what’s to come is canon.

  9. I like the sound of that!

    Maybe they’ll finally warm up to Timothy Dalton’s books, Anthony Hopkins would make a perfect Grand Admiral Thrawn. That and they could tell the story of the returners.

    Likewise, I hope Kinberg and Lucasfilm seriously consider the story of the Dark Forces saga. Who wouldn’t want to see Kyle Katran finally hit the big screen, played by someone perfect for the role such as Ryan Gosling.

  10. I love the EU because the writers have taken the infinite universe of Star Wars and explored it. I think it’s a great idea to take inspiration from the EU, but not directly adapt them. The books are amazing and need to be left alone, because as books they work. I think Abrams needs to, like the authors, make a new niche in the Star Wars universe, but keep in mind what makes the films and books so well loved and play off of that so he doesn’t scare the fans to death with something crazy.

  11. I think what Disney/JJ are talking about when they say the upcoming SW movies will be based on the ‘canon’ is that the main focus and storyline will revolve around existing
    SW 1-6 characters i.e. Han, Luke, Leia et al, which would leave room for new characters
    to be introduced that are modelled on EU stalwarts.

  12. I don’t think the EU needs to be a driving force behind anything, and I do prefer we get a completely original story. But the EU does need to be respected in some capacity.

    Avoid it when you can, throw in a few easter eggs for the fans if the opportunity is there, gloss over or contradict some smaller details in the EU timeline if you must, but don’t outright disgrace it. Don’t give Han and Leia kids and not named them Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin. Don’t have Luke fall in love with someone other than Mara Jade and then pretend as if she didn’t exist. Basically don’t take certain constants that echo through the EU and make them completely irrelevant. If that happens, I’ll be pretty damn upset because it won’t be due to being constricted by the universe, it will be due to lazyness or a perceived increase in marketing value for a character(s), and I’m not really cool with that since there are plenty of other ways to deal with that other than pissing on countless others hard work building the universe.

    • Agree completely. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if they started over with the EU from New Jedi Order onward (because of all the character death, much as I enjoyed the Yuuzhan Vong and LOVED the Legacy comic series), but what upsets me most about future movies discarding the EU is the thought that essential characters like Mara and the Solo children could be thrown out in favor of new characters who fill the same roles, especially when those characters are the product of 20+ years of dozens of writers telling shared stories with them.
      I’m also bothered by how frequently these professional novelists are brushed off as writing “fanfiction” because they’re not George Lucas (because all of Lucas’ ideas are the best, right?)

      • Who cares?

        Not more than 100,000 people do, that’s who.

        The .01% who reads these novels and takes them as gospel will complain, that Mara Jade suddenly was tossed out of the main story after Luke and her met and fought side by side. Everyone else who doesn’t read these novels, won’t care, won’t notice and will not ever complain like a soap opera.

        • According to a reference on the Thrawn Trilogy Wikipedia page, those three books have sold a combined 15 million copies. Where did you get the 100k figure?

          • Out of 6 billion people 14 million isn’t much. It’s only .001% of the population, his point still stands.

            • Out of six billion people how many are literate? How many even know what Star Wars is? Once you start lowering the number to people who even have a reasonable expectation to possibly read a Star Wars novel your percentage will rise a good bit. I doubt 95% of the 1 billion people in India or the several hundred million in Pakistan have ever heard of it…same with China and the rest of south east Asia. Japan and South Korea excepted. Africa? nope. We just cut out probably 3.5 billion or more people. Fifteen million is about 4.7% of the US population. I don’t know if that fifteen million is exclusively in the U.S. though.

              • Coming from someone who has traveled the world. Ignorant. Face it, the only references you will get that is remotely close to the EU will be split second easter eggs. That’s it

  13. Since many of the EU stories are all fan fiction (don’t hate, there’s some good fan fiction out there, and some really bad EU), I say everyone sit back, relax, and see what sort of awesome ff Abrams wants to put forward.

    • They’re just speaking about taking elements from the EU, that are loosely based off it. Putting Mara Jade into the movies seems like a great bet even if she’s only a love interest and Luke and Mara don’t go as far as they assume or something else. Just having the characters alone expands the value of Star Wars, and even within that context, seeing roles based off Darth Revan would be quite alluring.

  14. The EU aint happening. At least not for the new trilogy. The sooner you accept that fact, the better it will be for you.

  15. He said video games THE OLD REPUBLIC! WOOT WOOT!! DO IT!!!

    • Where exactly did he say that?

    • I agree I would love a Old Republic Trilogy!!!!!!

  16. Force Unleashed is also canon, LUCAS said that.

  17. The only EU stories worth anything are the Thrawn trilogy, the X-Wing series, Knights of the Old Republic, the Jedi Academy trilogy and the Dark Empire trilogy. The rest can all go. Don’t even get me started on the Clone Wars series.

    • Let’s not forget The Dark Force Rising Trilogy and Shadows of the Empire!

      • Shadows of the Empire is canon, since it was a true Lucas project, and Dark Force Rising is the second book in the Thrawn trilogy. Your point stands, though, Shadows was a good enough installment.

  18. We basically have no idea what we’re going to get, beyond the fact that it will feature some original cast members and reference the existing films. There is plenty to speculate on.

    I do not mind if the EU continuity is merely used as inspiration for usable characters (or character models) and plotlines. It’s entirely possible that they do retain the continuity if they jump into the 30-35 years after Return of the Jedi timeline, but I certainly don’t feel sure enough to bet on anything, at this point.

    What I would say about the EU is that, aside from the original film trilogy, the books/games have been the best of Star Wars. Sure, it’s a mixed bag, but the good EU stories are far better than the prequel films. It is for that reason that many of us have a deep attachment to the Thrawn Trilogy, etc. Those stories continued the saga in the spirit of the original films.

    Finally, to those insulting the EU by calling it fanfiction or saying that the book readership is a negligibly small % of Star Wars viewing audiences – the books have sold millions of copies. Never mind that it’s almost always the case that films draw more viewers than books draw readers – the Star Wars books have been successful, in some cases very high-selling for science fiction books. So those of us who have read them do matter.

    That doesn’t mean that they have to adopt the EU stories directly or even indirectly. But there’s no need to discredit one option to advocate another.

    • And what’s the best selling Star Wars book of all-time? TPM novelization.

  19. I would like the twins from Princess Leia and Jan, twins is a good story element from Star Wars. However, I don’t care if Like got married or became a B’Omar monk! However, the rumor of Obi-Wan having a grand daughter and his past, story line being an influence sounds cool.

  20. I agree that it’s just not possible to make new movies without breaking the EU continuity. I just hope they don’t reinvent the wheel as it where with the movies. For example the sky walker and solo kids could easily have the same names as in the EU.

  21. I agree that it isn’t smart to fully adapt the EU. I wouldn’t mind them taking from some of the stories and characters that are pretty good though. Wasn’t there some mention of films going off in spin off directions? I wouldn’t mind a Boba Fett film that shows how he escapes from the Sarlac pit and then goes on his merry way. It would be cool to see a KTOR spin off trilogy as well. As long as they’re well done the possibilities are pretty much limitless.

  22. Off topic but it would be awesome to see an adaptation of Mass Effect on HBO…for some reason Star Wars made me think of that. Could be like Firefly meets Game of Thrones and Star Wars. There’s enough plot and sub plots there to run a show for a long time.

  23. Considering that the original trilogy showed only a fairly brief moment in time, maybe 3 months. Which were spread out over all 3 films that take place over 4 years, I see no reason why the new trilogy cant and shouldnt do the same. Write a story, create a conflict that takes place during an appropriate place in the timeline. You dont have to adapt a book or series. In fact I agree you shouldnt do so. But considering how easily new books and other material are written that simply tell a new story in a place where another story hasnt done so, why cant the movies do the same? You dont have to rehash the decades in between. Did the original trilogy tell us Han’s life story up to that point? Or did it tell us just enough to let us understand the character? It would not be difficult at all to write a story that doesn’t invalidate the EU at all while not being beholden to it wither. After all the area of the EU timeline where the movies will take place have gaps in them easily as long year wise as the time frame in the original trilogy which was establish as 4 years from A New hope to Return of the Jedi. Again, I dont see why you have to choose. They could easily make films that dont alienate anyone from any area of the Star Wars fandom. And I personally hope JJ Abrams is smart enough to see that.
    Also as far as the EU being fanfic? The definition of fanic follows: Fan fiction, or fanfiction (often abbreviated as fan fic, fanfic, or simply fic), is a broadly defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published.
    Well lets see here. All the EU is in fact professionally published. They are commisioned works by authors, comic writers etc by LucasArts themselves or through licensing agreements with the appropriate company. Therefore they are in fact authroized works by the series owner, once again LucasArts. In point of fact, LucasArts created their own in house publishing brand just for the purpose of continuing to publish the novels. So please, tell me how these are fanfics?
    As far as peoples objections of how few people may or may not read them. Let me say this…We the readers of the EU kept Star Wars alive during the 16 years between trilogies. Without us, and our desire to read the novels and other material presented to us as canon BY THE OWNERS AND PUBLISHERS of the franchise, Star Wars wouldve fallen by the wayside during the 90′s. In fact it almost did. Thats why the novels were started. And the comics, and the video games. If that hadnt happened, if we hadnt spent our hard earned money on the EU material presented us, kept LucasArts a viable company when they werent making any new movies, interest in Star Wars itself wouldve dropped to such a level, that the Prequel trilogy and now the Sequel trilogy probably would not have been made. So before you disparage us…You should try thanking the loyal followers of the STAR WARS EU. Which btw…You’re welcome.

    • The sticky part comes when you look at the stories after the new trilogy. If the new trilogy preserves all the EU stories that predate it, that’s fine. If, however, we want the event of this new trilogy to be awe-inspiring galaxy-shaking (in short, awesome), they will necessarily invalidate the stories that came after. If they don’t, and everything returns to the status quo of the EU, then the new movie will be irrelevant to the larger Star Wars narrative that they’ve been shoehorned into. I would rather have the new films be original, not hamstrung by continuity with lesser stories, so they can rise to their greatest potential.

      I say this at great risk of destroying my credibility, but I’m with Lucas on this one. Let the EU exist as a parallel universe, and the films exist as their primary universe. I don’t want to see Jaxxon show up at any point to reminisce with Han about their past adventures.

  24. I’m a huge fan of the Movies and of the books written. I’m in agreement with those who say the name of the kids and even Luke’s wife (If they chose to include her) should be the same as in the novels. To ignore or change the names of characters that fans of the book have come to know would be a huge disappointment.

    As fun as it would be to see certain books made into movies, I just don’t see them ever doing that. If the six movies that have been made are considered cannon then the new trilogy and what ever spinoff movies they make should fit in with whats currently on film. Using names and places from the books where they can and I would be okay with that.

  25. Does this mean Disney will be buying up EU properties ? Including Timothy Zahn’s and R.A.Salvatore’s work ?

    • They dont have to. LucasBooks which is a division of LucasArts as a whole has the rights (or should) and now that LucasArts is a Disney property, its all in house.

  26. I do not mind the movie but no series on television. The series on television take forever to watch. I hate the series and they are very annoying. Only movies I can deal with.

  27. I’m shocked. I really hoped that Disney would do it better than George Lucas. The EU IS Star Wars. They are idiots not to see this.

  28. I consider all the novels Canon. I have read tons of the EU books and I wish they would have used them for episode 7. Hope I’m not disappointed in the story of the new film.

  29. When they say they intend to take inspiration from the expanded universe, I hope that means that they will be sure to introduce strong female characters, as the expanded universe has, since before even the prequel trilogy began to release.