Star Wars Continuity Explained
Do the various stories in all the Star Wars books, comics, games, and cartoons fit together as a single cohesive story? No, they don't. There are two major Star Wars continuities, what I'm going to refer to as "Legends" and "Disney."
Before Disney acquired Lucasfilm, there was a very large body of Star Wars content (books, comic books, games, cartoons) collectively known as the Expanded Universe. It told the story of what happened outside of the movies. Disney made the choice to brand this material as "Legends" and start from scratch with their storyline.
The Star Wars Disney continuity is composed of the first six films (Episodes I - VI), the Clone Wars cartoon, and everything published since Disney took over. That includes The Force Awakens, all novels since A New Dawn, the Rebels cartoon, and the comics published by Marvel starting in 2015. Often this continuity is referred to as the "new canon" or just "canon" material.
The Star Wars Legends continuity basically includes everything else, although there's some nuance to consider. The original six movies still "happened" in Legends, despite not being part of Legends. Generally speaking, Legends tells a fairly consistent story, particularly considering the large volume of material that needs to fit together. However, there's a few big exceptions to this:
- Keeping a unified continuity didn't seem to be a priority before Heir to the Empire was published in 1991, so don't expect earlier works to fit in cleanly. The early Marvel comics are good example of this.
- Another problem area is The Clone Wars cartoon series. Despite being released before Disney's acquisition, it stomped all over established continuity at the time. I prefer to just think of this cartoon as part of the Disney continuity only. Unfortunately that doesn't quite work out, because some Legends material references content from the cartoon.
- Some Legends stories are "what if" stories, and not intended to be part of the Legends timeline. These are known as "infinities" stories.
For a more in-depth view of Legends and canon, see the "Canon" page on Wookieepedia.
Since Disney's Legends decision, I've seen lot of the comments basically saying that that the old stories "aren't true", "didn't happen", or "don't matter" anymore. I see things differently: there are now two Star Wars timelines, that happen to intersect at some points. Like any good mythology there's not just one story. The old stories didn't become less entertaining or less valuable. Sure, many Star Wars fans will only ever know Disney's version of events, but anyone who wants to dig a little deeper can find a fascinating alternate Star Wars in Legends.
Originally posted by me, January 10, 2016, on docs.com: