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.
[Update 11/17/2015] Updated the “current continuity” section with new info from The Force Awakens and newly released post-Return of the Jedi content!
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 Admiral Ackbar.
So, what’s the deal with Ackbar in the current continuity?
Ackbar is a Mon Calamari male who served as a Captain of the Mon Calamari Guard during the Clone Wars era. He fought in a battle against the Quarran allied with the Separatists that secured the throne of the Mon Cala for Prince Lee-Char.
During the Galactic Civil War, he became a leading member of the Rebel Alliance military. He commanded the Rebel Fleet from his flagship, Home One, during the Battle of Endor. Under his supervision, the Rebels successfully defeated an Imperial trap and destroyed the second Death Star.
[Update 11/17/2015] After the Empire’s defeat at Endor, Ackbar led the newly formed New Republic on an offensive into an Imperial space that reached its climax at the Battle of Jakku.Thirty years later, Ackbar still serves as a high ranking member of the Resistance alongside General Leia Organa in their fight against the First Order.
What about Ackbar in the Expanded Universe?
Gial Ackbar (yup, he’s got a first name in the EU) was born on the water world of Dac, a planet in the Calamari system on the Outer Rim. He had a simple upbringing, growing up interested in science. He also dabbled in politics, as he was selected as Coral City’s representative on the Calamarian Council.
Like the current continuity, Ackbar served as Captain of the Mon Cala Guard during the Clone Wars and helped Prince Lee-Char rise to power with the help of the Republic.
After the rise of the Empire, however, Ackbar and his race were subjugated and used as Imperial slaves. Ackbar led a failed resistance movement, but his intelligence impressed the local Imperial commander, who gave Ackbar to Grand Moff Tarkin as a servant and a translator. Ackbar learned much of military tactics and Imperial doctrine from Tarkin in his years as his slave. When the Rebels rescued Ackbar from servitude, he repaid their generosity by convincing the Mon Calamari people to join the Rebel Alliance just after the destruction of the first Death Star.
With the military support of the Mon Calamari and Admiral Ackbar’s leadership, the Rebel military gained strength and numbers. After the destruction of the second Death Star, the Rebel Alliance was rebranded as The New Republic but the military still answered to Ackbar. He guided them through many campaigns including a conflict on Borleais against Warlord Zsing, The Thrawn Conflict, the destruction of the World Devastators on Mon Calamari, and the Caamas Document Crisis. He literally wrote the book on New Republic military tactics and came up with several battle maneuvers including the “Ackbar Slash” and the “Thrawn Pincer.”
After peace was signed with the Imperial Remnant, Ackbar retired from military service. However, he was forced back into military service during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion as a strategic consultant. While his contributions helped turn the tide of the war against the Vong, he died due to old age just before the conflict’s end.
What does the Expanded Universe tell us about the new continuity?
We can assume almost all of the post-Return of the Jedi military campaigns never happened in the new canon. It’s very likely that Ackbar stayed on with the New Republic, and later the Resistance, in some military capacity. Given the character’s popularity, it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw Ackbar in the new films as all they’d need to is create a new practical puppet/costume and use some clever sound design for his voice.