How The Lucasfilm Story Group Figures Out The Star Wars Canon

"Boba Fett is both simultaneously alive and dead in the Sarlaac Pit until a story pulls him out."

That's Pablo Hidalgo, one of the members of the Lucasfilm Story Group, trying to explain how and why their team makes story choices. The Story Group is a new group of Lucasfilm employees, headed up by Kiri Hart and created by President Kathleen Kennedy, whose job is to make sure every single Star Wars movie, TV show, book, comic book and video game tell one, big Star Wars story. At Star Wars Celebration Hidalgo and fellow Story Group member Leland Chee sat on a panel called One Big Story, along side editors from Del Ray Books, DK Publishing, Disney Publishing and Marvel Comics, to talk to fans about this new initiative to make sure all Star Wars stories tell the same story.

Unfortunately, there were no definitive big answers given about fan questions such as Boba Fett's fate or The Old Republic, but there was lots of teasing and insight. Plus there was discussion on the overall plan the Story Group has, how they interact with creative people, their willingness to explore new things in the Star Wars Universe, the Expanded Universe and the potential length of this plan. Read all about the operations of the Lucasfilm Story Group below.

The first point made at the panel was that the Story Group has a long game plan. They have major beats and ideas spanning probably years or maybe decades in advance (Note: no specific time frame was given) so as to be able to incorporate everything Star Wars is becoming. That was one of the reasons why the Expanded Universe – of which fans were so fond of – was retroactively classified as "Legends." If Star Wars was going to move ahead, there was simply too much story told in the past thirty years for people who are new the franchise to come into and worry about. Wiping the slate clean just gave everyone a fresh start.

While the term "Story Group" may make it sound like they are dictating the story, that's not usually the case. In most cases, authors or filmmakers who are hired to work on Star Wars properties, are given the oppurtunity to come up with their own stories and ideas. While doing that, they work closely with the Story Group to make sure the stories are authentically Star Wars (for example, Darth Vader doesn't dance or something) and also fit into the larger plan. Hidalgo said they've heard pitches from people who have great ideas for characters who are then told, "Come back in six years." That's because the story they're pitching would fit in better with a character at another point in the future.

Everything is a two way street, though. Sometimes the story group tells an author, "Would you be interested in telling a story about" some character? That's what happened with the new Marvel Comics series Kanan. The story group wanted his pre-Rebels story told and boom, it happened.

Eventually, the panel turned to fan questions, and the fans sure did have some questions. Much of them were centered on Expanded Universe characters they knew and loved as well as The Old Republic. On those topics, the Story Group said that while the Expanded Universe is now Legends and has been wiped clean, they do have plans to reboot or reintroduce characters from that world in the canon. How, when and who was not mentioned, of course. (Screams of "Thrawn!" and "Mara Jade" did ring from the crowd).

As for The Old Republic, the video game set thousands of years before the original films, the basic sentiment at this point is that it's canon until it isn't. Meaning, at the moment, they don't have plans to do stories set in that time period. But they love the story and if and when they decide to make stories in that period, they'd cross that bridge then.

Another point made was that if the Story Group's name is on something, that doesn't 100% make it canon. Sometimes there are Star Wars products that simply can't be canon. Games, for example, that feature multiple different endings. Or the Lego games that mash up everything. However, those are approved by the Story Group now for "Authenticity." The characters behave like the characters should and are worthy of the title, "Star Wars."

That makes the Story Group pretty much the keepers of Star Wars. Over and over, Hidalgo and Chee made it clear that everyone in the group is a fan who listen to the fans. They know what fans want but also have to be patient and careful. Nothing is canon until they say it is, but they will rarely say "No" to anything. It's just about when and where the story would be right.

So if you're a 15 year old kid with a great movie idea set in The Old Republic, don't fret. By the time you are old enough to make it, maybe the Story Group will be ready for it.

Header image: Boba Fett by Jason Edmiston