Before George Lucas broadened the Star Wars saga with his prequel films, and the trilogy made by Disney went into production, the Star Wars Expanded Universe existed as a means to broaden the Star Wars franchise with novels, comic books, graphic novels, and video games. Authors created stories that featured all the saga’s favorite characters, and in the process populated the galaxy with a wide variety of exciting new ones.
Disney and its creative team had new plans for the Universe, however. At the time that Episode VII: The Force Awakens debuted in theaters, the EU was relegated to being an “alternate timeline” running parallel to the timeline of the main Star Wars film events. To the fans of the EU, its characters, places, and plots represented what made Star Wars what it was, but some admitted Disney starting fresh was the right call. Here are some characters from the EU we wish would be made canon (and some we’re glad never were).
If the Expanded Universe (Star Wars Legends) have produced one character most in demand to be made canon, it would be Mara Jade, an infamous spy and assassin known as the Emperor’s “Right Hand”. She lurked in the shadows of every major event in the original Star Wars trilogy of films, on missions that even Darth Vader wasn't privy to. Her last mission before the Emperor died was to kill Luke Skywalker at all costs.
In Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire novel she tracked Luke down, but the tumult of certain events required that they work as a team to escape a cave collapsing, and over time the Jedi Master found the spirited redhead alluring. Eventually they married, and had a son they named Ben Skywalker.
Galen Marek was one of Darth Vader’s pupils, and the protagonist of the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Born from the forbidden love between two Jedi Knights, he was incredibly powerful in the Force, attracting the interest of Darth Vader who trained him in the Dark Side.
Given that Anakin Skywalker was touted in the prequels as “the most powerful Jedi ever” (Anakin’s quote, though his midi-chlorian readings were higher than even Master Yoda), it would trivialize his character arc (and the abilities of many powerful Jedi) if someone like Marek could use the Force to crush Star Destroyers, as he did in the game.
In the novel Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry, Jabba the Hutt has finally obtained Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Luke and Leia have to formulate a rescue plan, and in the process, confront a Falleen crime lord named Prince Xizor, whose ambition makes him a threat to even Vader's authority. Cultured and charming, he excretes a pheromone that instantly attracts those around him, making his business deals highly lucrative.
Star Wars has always had a criminal element, represented by shadowy figures such as Dryden Vos, Crimson Dawn's dictatorial leader in Solo, as well as the Hutt family. Prince Xizor was the head of a syndicate called Black Sun, and knew that the most successful crime lord didn’t pledge their arms to politics, but to profits.
When Dark Horse Comics was still responsible for publishing Star Wars graphic novels and comics, a unique series called Crimson Empire was released, focusing on the training and hierarchy of the Emperor’s elite Royal Guard. They began as an assembly of several dozen men: the potential candidates trained in pairs, getting weeded out until only two remained. This was by design; the Emperor had them duel, and whichever killed the other joined his guard.
Of the two finalists, one was Carnor Jax, a ruthless young man who didn't just want to be a guardsman; he wanted to be the Emperor. He had no Force abilities, but was simply a brutal warrior who (though he wore a snazzy suit of armor) was just a Vader clone.
A visionary strategist for the Empire and the only female to have earned the rank of Admiral, Daala was posted on the Outer Rim. She was developing the Suncrusher, a super weapon that, like the Death Star, could destroy planets, but in a manner much more akin to the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens. Her identity was kept secret and she reported only to the Emperor himself. She was also the secret lover of Grand Moff Tarkin.
Having Daala made canon would present a good precedent for strong female leadership in the First Order, such as Captain Phasma. It would show that in the Empire, women are just as capable as men when it comes to strategy and offense. Maybe more so, given the track record of officers under Vader's command.
One of the best starfighter pilots in the Empire happened to be working for the Empire. Soontir Fel commanded the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing, a disgraced TIE-fighter unit that would go on to become known as one of the deadliest in the fleet, thanks to Fel’s tactical prowess and popularity with the men.
Known as “Baron Fel” (in homage to the fabled Red Baron), he served the Empire, went on to defect to the Rebel Alliance, and towards the end of his career served Grand Admiral Thrawn in his personal fleet. As interesting as Fel is, unless Disney+ premiered a series specializing in the dogfights of Rogue Squadron, he wouldn’t be of much interest.
The Imperial Director of Intelligence during the days of the Galactic Civil War, Ysanne Isard was a ruthless woman who demanded blind obedience and unwavering loyalty from those under her. Nicknamed “Madam Iceheart”, she even commanded the Empire for several years after the Emperor’s death, having assassinated most of the competition.
Palpatine gave her a personal gift of a Star Dreadnought, which she converted into her own brainwashing and torture facility (as well as an incubator for sleeper agents). A woman of Isard’s tenacity and intellect hasn’t been seen yet in the canon, but could be integrated into something like the First Order or a similar regime.
Smuggler, swoop biker, and all around scoundrel, Dash Rendar was introduced in Shadows of the Empire, which took place between the events of Empires Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Since Han Solo was still in carbonite, another knave of similar flair needed to take over for Star Wars fans, and so Dash Rendar was created.
The head of a gang of swoop-bike riders, he was also a smuggler and an outlaw, with a gift for sweet talking the ladies. While he was likable enough, is it really necessary to have another Han Solo clone when the real one is so much better?
Tales of the Jedi was a series of comic books by Dark Horse that took place during the Old Republic Era, with particular focus put on the events and individuals surrounding the Great Sith War. Star Wars fans were fascinated by the Golden Age of the Sith, as well as the Fall of the Sith Empire, both of which occurred 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope and hadn’t previously been explored.
The Dark Lord of the Sith, Exar Kun, became a stand-out favorite in the series, a powerful warrior who took on the Republic and the entire Jedi Order with the help of a Sith amulet. The events of the series would inspire the Knights of the Old Republic video game series.
Kyle Katarn was the main protagonist in the Star Wars: Dark Forces and Jedi Knight video games, and featured in his own series of graphic novels. He was a decorated Imperial Military Academy graduate turned Jedi Knight, who later became a spy for the Rebel Alliance after he discovered the Empire was behind the death of his father.
Kyle Katarn was a bearded spy who snuck into the Imperial Research Facility on Danuta to steal the Death Star plans. Sound familiar? Cassian Andor, from Rogue One, is based on his character, who steals the plans from Skarif. His backstory will be explored in a new series for Disney+, leaving no need for Katarn.