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.
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.