Before Darth Vader: ‘Star Wars Legends’ Stories That Should Be Adapted Next

in Star Wars

Artwork from Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

The Walt Disney Company is finally ready to go back in time with Star Wars.

Three Jedi in robes stand ready, wielding never-before-seen Disney Star Wars lightsabers emitting green, yellow, and blue light in a dimly lit setting. The background features lush foliage and a rocky wall, suggesting a forest or cave environment. The scene is intense and full of vivid colors. star wars lightsaber the acolyte whip saber
Credit: Disney

The first episodes of The Acolyte, the latest live-action Star Wars show, are now streaming on Disney+. For the first time since the Mouse purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion, we’re getting a glimpse at the franchise without the Skywalker family.

The show takes place approximately a century before the events of Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and centers on a Jedi Master (Lee Jung-jae) and his former Padawan (Amandla Stenberg) as they investigate a murder at the height of the Republic’s power.

It is new ground for the Disney version of Star Wars to break, but it is by no means unprecedented. In the wilderness years between Return of the Jedi (1983) and The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars Expanded Universe filled in the officially sanctioned gaps in the lore, giving fans something to obsess over while George Lucas built his CGI empire.

George Lucas standing between two individuals dressed in white Stormtrooper costumes from the Star Wars franchise. The Stormtroopers hold blaster props.
Credit: Disney

To the outrage of a significant number of fans, the Expanded Universe has officially been renamed Star Wars Legends, rendering it non-canon until Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and creative chief Dave Filoni want to push some fan-favorite character or Clone Wars reference back into action. As we have pointed out in the past, that might not be such a bad thing, as the Expanded Universe could get pretty…weird.

But now Disney and Lucasfilm are willing to travel back into the history of Star Wars before Rey (Daisy Ridley) decided to rename herself Skywalker and form a new Jedi Order, before Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) decided to stop bulls-eying womp rats on Tatooine, and even before Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

Related: ‘Star Wars’ Fully Embraces ‘The Clone Wars’ in Brand-New Short Film

This is a perfect time for Disney to actually move past the Skywalker Saga and take a few concepts and stories from Star Wars Legends. Like these:

‘Tales of the Jedi’

Four individuals wielding lightsabers stand determinedly in front of a large stone structure, with flames and smoke in the background. The individuals are dressed in a mix of armor and robes, projecting a scene of action and adventure.
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

The Star Wars franchise has a long and complex relationship with the medium of comic books, which started all the way back in 1977 with a Marvel Comics adaptation of the first movie.

Because things were a lot less strict in terms of canon and continuity (which really only existed in the mind of George Lucas and not the fervent rantings of fans), Marvel published dozens of issues of original stories and introduced characters like Boba Fett stand-in Fenn Shysa, a tiny telepathic alien named Plif, and most infamously, a big green space rabbit named Jaxxon who competed with Han Solo in the busy world of galactic smuggling.

A number of comic book companies have published Star Wars material since then, but Dark Horse Comics picked up the torch from Marvel in the early 1990s and ran with it for decades. Any complaints fans have about The Rise of Skywalker (2019) featuring Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) returning from the grave and trying to possess someone to defeat death should really be directed to Dark Horse and not at Disney.

But aside from the Dark Empire series, Dark Horse Comics also published numerous series set thousands of years ago in a galaxy far, far away, notably Tales of the Jedi. Beginning in 1993, the series chronicled huge historical events like the Great Hyperspace War between the Jedi and the Sith and introduced concepts like a vast Sith Empire and Dark Side cults.

It also introduced characters that would become beloved fan-favorites in Star Wars Legends, like Ulic Qel-Droma, a Jedi Knight forcibly converted to the Dark Side, Naga Sadow, the original Sith sorcerer, Exar Kun, who attempts to conquer death once and for all, Freedon Nadd, one of the most powerful Force users the galaxy had ever known.

All of these people are freely available to Disney to mine for new streaming series and movies, even if Dave Filoni already made a series called Tales of the Jedi and stocked it with his own creations for some bizarre reason.

‘Rise of the Hutt Cartel’

A scene from a video game featuring three large, slug-like aliens with humanoid arms. The central figure wears armor and is flanked by two of the same species. The background shows a futuristic, rocky landscape with structures, sky, and clouds.
Credit: LucasArts Games

Sometimes, one has to pause and remember that the Star Wars universe has a lot more to offer than Jedi, Sith, and endless battles between lightsabers. For example, how about Disney makes an epic space saga centered on the Hutts, the most barbaric crime lords the galaxy has ever known?

There is already a fine template for this in Rise of the Hutt Cartel, an expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The series is set in the waning days of the old Sith Empire and the rise of the Galactic Empire, millennia before the original trilogy of films, and while the broad plot of the MMORPG largely concerns the battles between the two, there’s plenty of other material to draw from.

Rise of the Hutt Cartel focuses on the titular crime syndicate as it attempts to leverage the discovery of incredibly powerful new resources to become its own galactic era of domination, completely separate from the petty concerns of the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force.

Instead, the Hutts only care about profit and rising to the top of their own organization. It would be like The Sopranos, but what if space wizards were hanging around in the background?

C’mon, that just sounds like it would be fun.

‘The Eternal Empire’

Two armored men with stern expressions stand at the forefront, one in dark armor and the other in light armor, with a battalion of armored soldiers behind them. The background appears misty, suggesting a somber or intense atmosphere.
Credit: Electronic Arts

The vast archives of video games based on Star Wars Legends don’t end at whatever giant star slugs happened to be doing while politicians and dark wizards battled for supremacy. For example, long before the Galactic Empire and the Republic, there was the Eternal Empire.

The expansion pack Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire features the mysterious Eternal Empire, which emerged from the Outer Rim (basically the galactic equivalent of “Here Be Dragons”) to challenge both the Sith and the burgeoning Republic and force both of them into submission.

So much of the Star Wars franchise has been spent discussing both Palpatine’s Empire (itself an extension of the old Sith) and Republics, both old and new; it would seem like a good idea to remind fans that in history this old, there are more than two superpowers.

Basing a Disney+ series on the era of the Eternal Empire would bring in characters like Darth Malgus, an ancient Sith Lord who actually maintains some level of humanity while still managing to be a brutal avatar of anger, and the Immortal Emperor, Valkorion, a Dark Side entity that torments the entire galaxy for centuries through different forms and bodies.

At the very least, Disney could avoid bringing back Palpatine another time if they brought in Valkorion.

‘The Golden Age of the Sith’

Illustration of a menacing figure wearing an elaborate, spiked helmet and red cape, holding a shard of glass with a fierce expression. The background features an orange, fiery sky and silhouettes of structures, adding to the intense atmosphere.
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Long before the Great Hyperspace War, some Jedi started to play around with feeling angry and experimenting with some mysterious “Dark Side” and, in response, were exiled to the uncharted realms of the galaxy. These Dark Jedi explored the vast depths of space and eventually conquered a primitive species known as…the Sith.

The Dark Horse series Golden Age of the Sith lays the groundwork for almost everything that would come after, chronologically speaking. If there was ever any series that needed to foreground non-Skywalker Force users, it would be this one.

Author Kevin J. Anderson wrote of it, “The Dark Jedi were treated as gods — with unlimited resources and willing slaves, the Jedi exiles forged the Sith civilization into a new empire, bringing about a golden age of evil!” Count us in.

Related: First Look at Young Mace Windu in ‘Clone Wars’ Prequel Revealed

‘Dawn of the Jedi’

Artwork from Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Tales of the Jedi was not the only pre-history that Dark Horse Comics by a long shot. Dawn of the Jedi takes place even longer ago and concerns how the Jedi first came to be, chronicling their battle with the Sith from a time before those words were even used for a conflict that would stretch all the way to Rey and Ben Solo (Adam Driver).

Lucasfilm has announced that director James Mangold is helming an upcoming Star Wars movie with the tentative working title Dawn of the Jedi. However, if Dave Filoni’s Tales of the Jedi is any indication, it may end up having very little to do with the original plot and will probably involve a time-traveling Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) inspiring the Jedi or something.

James Mangold has described the project as:

“When I first started talking to Kathy [Kennedy] about doing one of these pictures, what occurred to me was thinking about what kind of genre of movie within Star Wars I wanted to do and I thought about a biblical epic, like a Ten Commandments, about the dawning of the Force. Where did the Force come from, when did we discover it, when did we learn how to use it?”

We’ll be cautiously optimistic, at the very least.

What Star Wars histories do you think should become a Disney+ series? Tell us in the comments below!

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