How The “Star Wars: Rebels” Finale Has Already Broken the New Disney Canon

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

“Star Wars: Rebels” has now concluded, and in the aftermath of the show’s finale, fans are starting to ask questions that may risk the consistent fabric of the entire “Star Wars” continuity.

(Just as a heads up, this article contains vague spoilers for the finale – we’re not going into too much detail, but if you’re hoping to go into the episode fresh, you might want to read something else instead.)

Reboots are hard. As has been seen time and again, whenever a major franchise with a large extended universe attempts to ditch all old canon for the sake of clearing up the continuity (for example, say, the DC comics universe), it’s only a matter of time before things get muddled again.

In fact, it’s often the case that a post-reboot fictional universe will get messier quicker than it did the first time, as audiences are often left scratching their heads about what parts of the old canon might still be relevant.

Mara Jade Skywalker
Source: Del Rey/Lucasfilm

“Star Wars” is no exception. When Disney first published Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the company announced that all previous Expanded Universe “Star Wars” stories, including forty years of novels, comics, video games, and other media, were no longer official canon.

These stories exist now as “Legends”; they’re still available if you know where to look for them, but instead, Disney is trying to reinvent everything so as to create a less convoluted history.

Unfortunately, Disney has never really clarified how much of old canon still applies – does technology work the same way? Is the history of the Jedi intact? Are the events of long distant stories, like, say, “Knights of the Old Republic” still canon?

What makes things worse is that new properties often make reference to characters, places, or events that belong to the Legends canon. So does this mean that these stories still took place in the same way, or is there some new mystery backstory that still needs to be filled in?

Star Wars Rebels Finale
Source: Lucasfilm

Now, “Star Wars Rebels” concludes with, one last spoiler alert, a victory for the titular Rebel Alliance. The Empire is beaten back, and the heroes can essentially live happily ever after, without fear of reproach.

This is great – except, as this takes place before “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, it somewhat invalidates the big triumph of the movie.

The opening crawl for the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” states that “The Rebel Alliance has won its first decisive victory against the evil Galactic Empire”. So which victory does this refer to? The victory of the “Rebels” finale, or the victory of the “Rogue One” movie climax?

To anyone who’s not neck-deep in “Star Wars” lore, this probably sounds like a trivial matter. Who cares if the rebels had a win before Scarif?

Scarif Rogue One
Source: EA

For those passionate fans who care, though, this is a dangerous warning sign. In just a few short years, the “Star Wars” canon has started to get a little busy again.

Part of this is the result of Lucasfilm being strangely uncomfortable with the idea of exploring any time period in “Star Wars” history that hasn’t already been seen in a movie. With any luck, when Rian Johnson debuts his trilogy of new stories set in a distant corner of “Star Wars” canon, we’ll get a brand new sandbox for “Star Wars” writers to play in.

(Assuming Johnson’s trilogy goes ahead as planned anyway, which is a little doubtful following the fan response to “The Last Jedi”.)

For now, though, it seems like Disney may be in danger of messing up their reboot by allowing too many contradictory stories to bounce around in the same short period of “Star Wars” history.

This is the first sign of cracks in the new canon. Before long, “Star Wars” fans will have to endure an awful lot more, as this new fictional world continues to expand.