Star Wars is going through a state of transition. For twenty years, an Expanded Universe of novels, comics, and games have supplemented the films and TV shows to create an incredibly deep and detailed Star Wars universe. Soon after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, however, they wiped the canon slate clean, saying they would no longer adhere to the stories of the Expanded Universe in order to have the greatest creative freedom with their new Star Wars films starting with The Force Awakens.
But with the new films, so comes new books, comics, and games in a new continuity to replace the old one. So, what is canon and what isn’t anymore? After twenty years, are these the same characters and planets we’ve always known and loved? Is it even the same universe? Well, in our new column Canon Catch-Up, we’re here to answer those questions and set the record straight.
Today, we’re discussing The New Republic.
[Updated 12/28/15] We’ve added information about the New Republic in the current continuity based on newly released novels and The Force Awakens!
So, what’s the deal with The New Republic in the current continuity?
Following the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance formed into a new organization titled The New Republic. The New Republic enjoyed a swell of support shortly after its formation, with Naboo becoming one of the first official member worlds. The first capitol world was Chandrilla, with a new senate established and Mon Mothma as Chancellor.
Striking with renewed vigor, The New Republic brought the fight to the weakened Galactic Empire and fought in a major battle on and above the planet Jakku that resulted in a decisive defeat for the Empire. Following the Empire’s loss, a peace treaty called the Galactic Concordance. The remains of the Empire retreated into the Unknown Regions, where they reformed over several decades into the First Order.
During the new found peace, the New Republic drastically scaled back its military to a large peacekeeping force when the Senate passed the Military Disarmament Act. However, they secretly supported the Resistance, a private military proxy group led by General Leia that ran operations against the First Order. The New Republic also revolved its capital between member worlds in order to avoid the pitfalls that came with the Old Republic basing itself out of one centralized location.
When the First Order began to regain power, Leia petitioned the senate to build up the New Republic military, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Eventually, the First Order used a super weapon known as Starkiller base to destroy Honsian System, the current New Republic capitol. The resulting blast also destroyed the primary New Republic defense fleet. In retaliation, the Resistance destroyed Starkiller base.
What about The New Republic in the Expanded Universe?
Like the current continuity, the Rebel Alliance declared itself the New Republic shortly after the death of the Emperor. The New Republic was led by a Provisional Council made of influential names such as Mon Mothma, Princess Leia Organa, Borsk Fey’lya, and Admiral Ackbar.
The first objective of the New Republic was to recapture Coruscant. For the next two years, the New Republic made a push into the core worlds, liberating several planets from the yoke of the Empire. Thanks to an operation from Rogue Squadron, Coruscant was captured and became the capitol of the New Republic three years after its formation. Mon Mothma was appointed Chief of State and a senate was formed to take over duties from the Provisional Council.
For the next few years, The New Republic focused on rebuilding and strengthening its infrastructure while fending off isolated Imperial warlords. It wasn’t until two years after the capture of Coruscant that an Imperial resurgence led by Grand Admiral Thrawn posed a severe threat. After a number of defeats and setbacks, the New Republic managed to halt the Imperial advance after Thrawn’s death at the Battle of Bilbringi.
During a time of relative peace, The New Republic grew in size and complexity. Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was allowed to create a Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV to train Force sensitive students. Furthermore, several committees were formed with checks and balances to prevent the Chief of State from becoming too powerful like in the case of Palpatine becoming Supreme Chancellor.
By the time Princess Leia Organa Solo became Chief of State, the fight against the Imperial Remnant was turning in the New Republic’s favor. Imperial worlds joined the New Republic, but their ideologies started to cause problems within the bureaucracy. Eventually, the Empire was reduced significantly in size and they signed formal peace treaty with the New Republic.
When the Bothan Borsk Fey’lya was voted Leia’s successor as Chief of State, the bureaucratic problems increased and the senate became unwieldy and ineffectual. When the galaxy fell under the threat of invasion from the Yuuzhan Vong, the New Republic senate did not take the threat seriously until it was too late. After the Yuuzhan Vong cut through New Republic defenses and took Coruscant, the government was lost. Eventually, the survivors reorganized their remnants of leadership into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances and went on to win the Vong War.
What does the Expanded Universe tell us about the new continuity?
It seems both continuities share a similar trajectory: soon after the Battle of Endor the Rebel Alliance became the New Republic. While it’s unclear in the current continuity why the New Republic became the Resistance, but it could have crumbled under its own bureaucracy as it did in the Expanded Universe.
Furthermore, it’s clear Leia became the head of the New Republic in the current continuity as she did in the EU, at least for a time. We know that Poe Dameron was sent by Leia on his mission in The Force Awakens, which leads us to believe she is in some kind of position of power during that time period.
It’s very possible, due to the impression of military might from The First Order in The Force Awakens trailers, that unlike the EU the New Republic was not nearly as successful in its military campaigns. Perhaps they retook Coruscant, but the First Order is still a substantial threat that may have retaliated, grinding The New Republic down until they became the Resistance.