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‘Star Wars: Visions’ is a sign that we don’t need a cinematic universe

Questions about how ‘Star Wars: Visions’ connects to the main story don’t matter — ‘Star Wars’ is ‘Star Wars’

Ronin in a scene from the “Star Wars: Visions” short, “The Duel.”
Ronin (voiced by Masaki Terasoma in Japanese and Brian Tee in English) in a scene from the “Star Wars: Visions” short, “The Duel.”
Disney+, Lucasfilm

“Star Wars: Visions” is not canon. That means it doesn’t actually connect to the main “Star Wars” timeline. You won’t see how the characters in “Visions” interact with the ongoing story of “The Mandalorian” or vice-versa. Rather, you might see a character like Boba Fett or Jabba the Hutt show up in “Visions” as a cameo, but it doesn’t have bigger implications for the overall timeline.

The series is not a part of the main “Star Wars” timeline — it sits right next to it. It will feature characters as seen in the original “Star Wars” stories, but it won’t necessarily impact the main overall story that we’ve grown to know and love.

“I think these shorts are all authentic ‘Star Wars’ storytelling,” executive producer James Waugh told Digital Spy about the show. “But some are less on the timeline than others. Some could very much fit within our timeline. But ‘Visions,’ as a whole, is more of a celebration of ‘Star Wars,’ through this unique perspective, this unique form, this medium and culture. And that was really the intention.”

I know we live in an age where discussions of timelines, multiverses and Easter eggs dominate the conversation. We’re always looking for ways to rewrite or reboot stories, and make those reboots fit into the original storyline. Today’s marketing includes hinting at what’s coming next in your franchise or suggesting there’s something hidden in a previous episode or movie that ties into the main product. We live in an age where a story is not just a story. Stories are now teasers for the next piece.

“Star Wars: Visions” provides an opportunity for the “Star Wars” franchise to zig when everyone else is zagging. Sometimes, it feels good to have just a story. It’s nice to watch a story and not care about the next theory, Easter egg or connection to another project. Sometimes it’s fun to watch something like “The Twins” that’s totally odd, unique, fun, cool — and it doesn’t matter how it relates to Luke Skywalker. It doesn’t matter how it connects to Kylo Ren. The story just exists, and that’s totally OK.

Instead of leaning into the concept of the multiverse, different timelines and interconnected universes, “Star Wars: Visions” gives us a number of short films that don’t connect at all, and it’s wildly refreshing.

And it just might be a sign of what can make “Star Wars” great again.

The canon debate in ‘StarWars’

When Disney first bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, there were immediate questions about what it meant for the expanded universe of novels, comic books and games that had been written and published since the end of “Return of the Jedi.” The expanded universe had an entire storyline of what happened after “Return of the Jedi,” which included Han and Leia having three children — Anakin, Jacen and Jiana — and Luke Skywalker marrying one of the Emperor’s closest allies, Mara Jade. We saw an alien race invade the “Star Wars” galaxy and kill Chewbacca, and we witnessed Jacen Solo become one of the most fascinating “Star Wars” villains in history, known as Darth Caedus.

And that’s just that storyline. The expanded universe gave us characters such as Darth Nihil, Darth Bane, Darth Revan, Grand Admiral Thrawn and so many others that added layers and layers to the universe.

But Disney did something different. Disney renamed all of those stories as “Legends” — a non-canon expanded universe story. In return, Disney released its own stories for the expanded universe. Its “Aftermath” trilogy told of the events directly after the Empire’s fall. And since then, there have been some books and comics few and far between that have tried to rewrite the expanded universe.

The Disney era of “Star Wars” has, in many ways, tried to reflect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s tried to interweave all of its stories together to create one single product that has Easter eggs and teasers for other movies, books and comics. That makes sense since the MCU is one of the most successful franchises in the history of cinema, and it continues to show long-lasting success even after more than 25 films and decades of content.

“Star Wars: Visions” has changed the game, though.

“Star Wars: Visions” doesn’t take place inside the canon. The stories are unique and their own. That’s why the episode titled “The Twins” features two young dark side Force users who are similar to Luke and Leia, but they’re not. They’re almost alternate timeline versions of Luke and Leia if they had been born into the Empire. The first episode includes a random Jedi dueling with a Sith. We see this again and again throughout the series. Each of the short films has content that could make it suitable for another episode or two, but they don’t necessarily jibe with the main canon.

And I am here to tell you — that is OK.

‘Star Wars: Visions’ doesn’t need to be canon

As Twitter user Okiro pointed out, “Star Wars: Visions” does not need to be canon for people to enjoy it. The stories don’t need to canon to be continued in a major way, he said. They can exist separately and still be enjoyed.

“Folks need to realize continuity should only matter to the people who get paid to keep track of it to maintain consistency,” he wrote. “But continuity shouldn’t be the deciding factor on how you feel about a story or if it should be continued. You enjoy a story? That’s all that matter.”

Look, I love the MCU. There’s a reason why I spent 61.5 hours in a Marvel movie marathon. There’s a reason why I’ll see the new movies and instantly do a deep dive into the Easter eggs and what’s next. But the MCU is, honestly, tiring. It’s a lot of work to go back and watch all of the movies. It’s a lot of work to review the Easter eggs, concepts, theories and more.

Disney and Lucasfilm will continue to release new “Star Wars” projects that link up with each other. We’ll see “The Book of Boba Fett” on Disney+ this winter with “The Mandalorian” due up after that in 2022. New projects will continue to connect the “Star Wars” universe together, giving us a new round of stories.

But honestly, stories can exist without a cinematic universe. We don’t need a “Star Wars” movie universe. “Star Wars” stories can now exist without consideration for the canon. The Legends stories, the Visions stories and the main Skywalker Saga can all exist, and we can all appreciate them. Stories should exist on their own, even in a galaxy far, far away.