Is Solo: A Star Wars Story setting up the return of the legendary Knights of the Old Republic? The last few years have seen Lucasfilm make a number of references to the KotOR era, including an Easter egg in The Last Jedi that pointed to Darth Revan. The latest discovery is courtesy of The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which actually features a reference to the Sith Lord Exar Kun.
The book features a page examining items designed to be in Dryden Vos's chamber. But the real highlight is the central desk itself. Set decorator Lee Sandales explained that it's a bespoke piece of furniture, representing the administrative seat of Vos's power. "The stone base, that Dryden has plundered from the Sith temple of Exar Kun, is made from polished obsidian and decorated with carved hieroglyphs representing spells that protected its former home."
In the old Expanded Universe, Exar Kun was one of the greatest Sith Lords of all time; he actually succeeded in conquering death itself, inhabiting the Massassi Temples of Yavin 4 until he was eventually destroyed by Luke Skywalker and his students. This reference to the ancient Sith Lord understandably has fans of the Expanded Universe pretty excited, and it's being pointed to as yet more evidence Lucasfilm is building towards a relaunch of the Knights of the Old Republic era. But is this really the case?
Exar Kun Isn't a KotOR Character
It's true that Exar Kun is an ancient and powerful Sith Lord, but he doesn't actually appear in Knights of the Old Republic. Kun was created by novelist Kevin J. Anderson as the villain in his Jedi Academy Trilogy. That Story saw Luke Skywalker establish a Jedi Praxeum in the temples of Yavin 4, but his apprentices unwittingly awoke the ancient Sith spirit of Exar Kun. The novels revealed that the temples had been constructed by Kun's slaves, and he had used their magics to focus his power and endure beyond death. He was ultimately destroyed by the Jedi Apprentices, who focused the power of the Light Side of the Force against him. The story essentially portrayed Exar Kun as the Devil, against a Messianic tale focused around Luke Skywalker and his twelve apprentices.
Anderson was unsure whether or not Exar Kun should be a Sith Lord, or just a Dark Jedi. It was George Lucas himself who decided the issue, recommending that Kun should be a Sith. Anderson then collaborated with Tom Veitch to reveal Kun's backstory in the Tales of the Jedi comics. Kun and his apprentice Qel-Droma led the Mandalorians in a war against the Old Republic, which is actually referenced a number of times in Knights of the Old Republic, although Kun himself is long gone by then.
So, simply referencing Exar Kun isn't the same as referencing Knights of the Old Republic, as his story happens long before and is only tangentially related, but it's still an ancient historical reference from the Old Republic era.
This Doesn't Make Kun's Story Canon
In any case, this one reference doesn't make Exar Kun's story canon. Leland Chee, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group said as much on Twitter. The reference comes from a prop description in an art book, and it's not specified in the film itself. The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story is filled with references explaining what different designs mean, and some of them actually contradict the movie, because plans changed. When the desk was designed, Exar Kun was on that particular artist's mind, and it's possible there was originally supposed to be a more explicit mention in the movie itself, but that's not necessarily still the case.
It's also important to remember that Lucasfilm uses elements of the old Expanded Universe quite liberally - and they adapt them heavily. Solo is filled with Easter eggs to the EU, from the planet Mimban to the Maw Cluster. But the Maw serves as a cautionary note; the basic concept is the same, but it's been changed to the point where it's unrecognizable. Even if Lucasfilm did have plans for Exar Kun, there's no reason to assume they'll stick to the Expanded Universe version.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019