Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker's Discarded, Once-Villainous Wife In Star Wars, Explained

I vividly recall when the trailer for "Star Wars Rebels" season 3 debuted at Star Wars Celebration in 2016. When the promo unveiled Grand Admiral Thrawn — the awesome Big Bad of Timothy Zahn's "Heir to the Empire" novel trilogy from the Expanded Universe (aka Star Wars Legends) — as the season's main threat, it was a fist-pump moment for fans of the EU (which, by then, had been discarded from the post-Disney canon). So, naturally, when the "Rebels" panel opened up to fan questions, one brave soul told "Rebels" co-creator/showrunner Dave Filoni the thing that was on everybody's minds: Do Mara Jade next! 

Okay, they framed it as more of a query, but that was the gist.

Mara Jade, as it were, was introduced in "Heir to the Empire" as an assassin in the Emperor's Hand, a secret agent group that served Emperor Palpatine in the EU. A version of the Hand now exists is the Disney canon, but the EU iteration is quite different. If one wants to get technical, one could argue Mara herself is still canonical. In the "Return of the Jedi" radio drama (which, true facts, cast John Lithgow as Yoda), C-3PO crosses paths with "Arica," a dancer at Jabba the Hutt's palace. The character was later retconned as being Mara in disguise on a mission to kill Luke Skywalker, whom Palpatine wanted dead (recognizing the danger he posed). It all depends on whether you consider the original trilogy's radio dramatizations canon or not, Mickey Mouse be damned.

After begrudgingly helping the New Republic defeat Thrawn, Mara became a reputed smuggler, married Luke and had a son with him named Ben, and even joined the Jedi Order before being killed by Luke's nephew Jacen after he turned to the dark side. She's kind of a big deal in the EU, that's what I'm getting at.

Could Mara Jade become canonical for real?

Why do people love Mara Jade so much? For starters, she encompassed the best aspects of the EU and none of its weaknesses. She was a morally complicated character who began as an antagonist only to evolve into a selfless figure. Her character arc was complex and challenged the "Star Wars" franchise's traditionally black-and-white outlook towards morality. Years before "Andor" gave us the most mature and adult "Star Wars" story of the Disney era, the EU explored similar thematic territory with "Heir to the Empire" and other books centered on Mara. As with Luthen Rael from "Andor," Mara was a hardened soul capable of adapting as needs be, but would learn to make herself emotionally vulnerable to the right people (like Luke).

Despite Filoni's ongoing efforts to repurpose elements of "Heir to the Empire" for the post-Disney canon (which will culminate with his upcoming "Star Wars" movie), there's been no indication that Mara is part of those plans. Still, if I may be so bold, I see no reason why Mara couldn't be folded back into a galaxy far, far away. There's nothing in the post-Disney canon to contradict the notion of Palpatine having had an assassin at the time of the original trilogy; goodness knows the man had no shortage of secret schemes. For that matter, there's even room for the idea of Luke having gotten married at some point between the original trilogy and "The Last Jedi." (Mark Hamill himself has said that he believes Luke had sex, dammit.) Besides, who says Mara has to remain beholden to her tragic EU fate?

As a wise man once observed, "Ain't no rule says a dog can't play basketball!" Those are words that the Lucasfilm "Star Wars" Story Group's own head honcho Pablo Hidalgo lives by, and Mara deserves a life beyond the EU graveyard.