It’s All Connected
Lucasfilm launched this new era of interconnected stories with a bang, titling many of the first installments of this new canon leading up to Episode VII under the banner of "Journey to the Force Awakens." These books and comics all teased readers with clues about the events of the film, and fans were ravenous for information about the new era of Star Wars during a very restrained marketing approach for franchise's cinematic rebirth.
That initial push may have been a bit on-the-nose with it's promises of connective tissue, but the full effects of the Story Group can be seen on display in Rogue One’s numerous Easter eggs and tie-ins to other stories in a far more subtle fashion. Outside of simple references and Easter eggs, Rogue One included one particularly big reveal that demonstrates just how well established this universe is behind the Story Group's closed doors: Darth Vader’s Mustafar castle.
The concept of Darth Vader having a castle is nothing new - it’s another element of Legends continuity being brought into modern canon by Rogue One, but evidence for the existence of Vader’s toasty getaway has been apparent for some time, and any completionist superfan should have already known about it simply by following a bread crumb trail.
In the Star Wars Rebels season 1 finale, “Fire Across the Galaxy”, Wilhuff Tarkin plans to take Kanan Jarrus to Mustafar, a location he says “never fails to extract a confession." If that wasn’t obvious enough, when Hera finds out Kanan is being transferred there, she says Mustafar is “where Jedi go to die.” Finally, Tarkin’s Star Destroyer is destroyed in orbit over Mustafar, forcing him to flee in a shuttle, but when he returns to Lothal, the shuttle has a new passenger: Darth Vader. Any one of these hints could potentially be dismissed as innocuous, but taken together they paint a fairly clear picture.
Even if those hints from Rebels aren’t crystal clear, the very first chapter of one of the very first novels in new canon, Star Wars: Aftermath, states: “After all, didn’t Mustafar hold some importance to the Imperial leadership? Rumors said that’s where Vader took some of the Jedi long ago. Torturing them for information before their execution.”
While the trail of dots connecting Aftermath to Rebels to Rogue One and the reveal of Vader's Castle are a great exhibition of the Story Group’s impact, it’s only one example, with Saw Gerrera’s inclusion in The Clone Wars, Rebels, Catalyst, and Rogue One serving as another. The galaxy far, far away is growing bigger all the time, and major tie-ins, like Episode VIII director Rian Johnson’s request to include the “Napkin Bombing” in the Leia-centric novel, Bloodline, are only going to see bigger and bigger payoffs as more Star Wars stories arrive, giving fans more incentive than ever to dive deep into non-movie material with hopes of uncovering big clues for future films - looking for the next "Vader's Castle" in Star Wars continuity.
Do you have any personal favorite example of the success of the Lucasfilm Story Group’s impact on Star Wars? Let us hear about it in the comments!