The Jedi have a rich history in the EU, and one well deserving of its own standalone movie.
By Blair Marnell
The Star Wars Expanded Universe may be gone, but some of the saga’s grand history involving the ancient Jedi could still be made into amazing standalone movies. A Star Wars Story like Knights of the Old Republic or Dawn of the Jedi, for example, could thrill mainstream crowds and old-school fanboys alike.
Many fans were not happy when Disney declared the EU to no longer be canon (retitling it Legends in the process). But what if the Legends could return? Star Wars Rebels has already introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn into the new timeline, and if the rumors are true that Woody Harrelson is playing Garris Shrike in the Han Solo movie, then Thrawn won’t be the only EU character to be making a comeback. More intriguingly, a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels alluded to a war in the past between the Jedi and Mandalore. Star Wars fans may recall that the Mandalorian Wars were a critical part of the backstory for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which is also one of the all-time great Star Wars video games. If aspects of KOTOR are still canon, then there could be ripe material from that era for a future Star Wars anthology film to explore. And it’s not the only piece of ancient Star Wars history that deserves to be fleshed out on the big screen…
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi (Volumes 1-3)
Dawn of the Jedi
Writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema explored the early days of the Force wielders for Dark Horse Comics with their Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi series. Taking place roughly 26,000 years before A New Hope, and long before there was even a Republic, the book depicted an era where even the Jedi and the Sith hadn’t yet been fully formed.
It all started on the world known as Tython, where the warrior priests who would eventually become the Jedi work towards peace while also trying to find balance in the Force. They must face the evil Rakata race and the Infinite Empire, dark creatures that use Force Hounds — slaves trained to locate Force users for the Rakata to dominate.
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Perhaps the most intriguing part is that the Jedi (or the Je’daii Order, as they were called then) used swords instead of lightsabers, since they hadn’t yet adopted that technology. Considering that George Lucas was reportedly inspired to make A New Hope in part because of Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, there’s something fitting about the idea of seeing a Star Wars film go full Samurai. Dawn of the Jedi was also refreshingly different from most of the other EU eras, as nearly everything in the galaxy was still being discovered. Star Wars has always been famous for its “lived-in universe,” but for once we got to see everything when it was still new and unexplored, and that could make for a very exciting cinematic experience.
Tales of the Jedi
Back in 1993, Dark Horse Comics realized the potential of telling stories that took place thousands of years before the movies. And in doing so, they ended up charting the history that eventually led to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This was also long before “the Rule of Two” was established, so it meant that the writers and artists had the freedom to use as many Sith as they wanted to. Of course, that inevitably led to armies of Jedi and Sith facing each other on the battlefield, and that’s something that we’ve desperately wanted to see onscreen for years.
Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider
Remember Darth Maul’s awesome double bladed lightsaber? Artist Chris Gossett came up with that for the Tales of the Jedi comic, and it wasn’t his only innovative design. The Tales of the Jedi series also introduced a new female heroine, Nomi Sunrider, as well as Ulic Qel-Droma, a Jedi who eventually fell to the Dark Side — and in the process, changed the galaxy forever. Even by itself, that would be worth exploring in a movie. But it’s the stories that came after that that were among the best in the franchise.
The Great Sith War
A Tales of the Jedi movie would be a useful prologue, but we wouldn’t object at all if Lucasfilm simply jumped ahead to the Great Sith War. After his turn to the Dark Side, Qel-Droma became the apprentice of the Sith Lord Exar Kun. Together, they very nearly wiped out the Jedi in a wide scale conflict. Unlike the Emperor, Kun and Qel-Droma openly conquered territory in the name of the Sith and drew other fallen Jedi to their side.
The Great Sith War was depicted in various arcs in Tales of the Jedi, but imagine if the prequel trilogy of movies had given us a Jedi and Sith conflict on that scale. Perhaps someday we won’t have to imagine it.
The Mandalorian Wars
Roughly 20 years after the Great Sith War, the forces of Mandalore went to war against the Old Republic. And eventually the Jedi were drawn into the Mandalorian Wars as well. Thanks to Star Wars Rebels, we know that there was at least something similar to that event in the current continuity, although the specifics have yet to be explored. The vast majority of the Mandalorian mythos has been explored in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and we’d say it’s highly overdue to see that warrior culture on the big screen. (Although it must be noted that Boba Fett and his father Jango wore Mandalorian armor, and that in the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back way back when there was a now non-canon mention of a battle between the Jedi and the Mandalorians that took place during the Clone Wars.)
Revan during the Mandalorian Wars
The Mandalorian Wars are also a pivotal moment for the saga because they served as a prologue to KOTOR. This was the war where the Jedi known as Revan and Malak became legends, and also where they fell to the Dark Side. The recent Warcraft movie serves as a cautionary tale about throwing too much backstory into a film, but we still feel that the story of Revan deserves to make it on the big screen. It’s simply epic.
The Jedi Civil War
Most of KOTOR was devoted to the turning point of the Jedi Civil War, when Revan was nearly killed after being betrayed by Malak. The Jedi saved Revan’s life, and he was essentially forced on a path of redemption after his memories were wiped. While it would be nearly impossible for a KOTOR movie to recapture the connection that fans felt towards Revan when they controlled his actions in the game, it could still be very intriguing to see Revan’s relationships develop as he is drawn to both the Dark Side and the Light. Because where Revan leads, his party follows.
The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic also offers a unique period in the history of the franchise — a rare and tenuous period of peace between the Jedi and the Sith. Of course, peace is a relative term, and it didn’t really last. But the game’s developers once again created an immersive Star Wars experience that was easy to get lost in. If The Old Republic was ever to be adapted into a movie, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be tied to any previously created story. The setting itself could be a great springboard for Lucasfilm to start building new characters and stories at a largely uncharted time in the franchise’s history.
Ultimately, we’d like to see the distant past of Star Wars on the big screen because there are only so many times that Lucasfilm can revisit popular characters for the standalone anthology films. The Tales of the Jedi stories, KOTOR and the rest have already proven that the saga can go even deeper into the mythology. It just needs someone to lead the way.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
What do you want to see in the Star Wars spinoff films? Let us know in the comments!
Blair Marnell is a freelance writer whose work can be found all over the Internet. You can talk to Blair on Twitter at @BlairMarnell.