Between 1976 and 2012, the books, comic books, video games and other creative material outside of the Star Wars movies and The Clone Wars TV series was collectively referred to as the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but once Disney purchased Lucasfilm, these stories were relabeled as "Legends" and deemed non-canon so that there would be a clean slate for the franchise. However, since the decision was made official in 2014, several EU elements have been incorporated into the official Star Wars canon, and news has come in that one especially important character from this period of Star Wars history might be reintroduced in Episode IX next year: Mara Jade.

The folks over at That Hashtag Show have heard that Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams and casting director Nina Gold are looking for an actress between 40-50 years old to play one of the movie's lead roles, who is only identified as "Mara." While it's possible that Mara is simply a code name for the character's real identity, the use of that name is still intriguing. Mara Jade is one of the most popular characters who was introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, arguably surpassed only by Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was added back to the official Star Wars canon in the Star Wars Rebels TV series. Seeing Mara Jade portrayed in live action nearly 30 years after she debuted on the printed page would definitely be cool.

Introduced in the 1991 novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, in the Expanded Universe continuity, Mara Jade was originally the "Emperor's Hand," a special Force-sensitive agent that Palpatine sent on key missions. After the second Death Star was destroyed and the Galactic Empire's forces were significantly reduced, Mara became the second-in-command for smuggler Talon Karrde, but she was still determined to kill Luke Skywalker to avenge Palpatine's death. However, this was primarily driven by a telepathic command Palpatine had driven into her head before he met his demise, and Luke was able to break Palpatine's hold over Mara. As the books passed, Luke helped Mara hone her Force abilities, and the two eventually married and had a son named Ben. Sadly, Mara was killed by her nephew, Jacen Solo, in the novel Sacrifice after she learned he'd become a Sith.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that this "Mara" who's being cast for Star Wars: Episode IX is indeed Mara Jade. It's worth remembering that this version of her may not necessarily resemble her original counterpart closely. Still, I would hope that this version of Mara had a connection with Luke Skywalker. Luke died at the end of The Last Jedi, and while it's possible Mark Hamill could reprise the role one more time as a Force Ghost, Mara could be a good way for us to learn more about Luke in the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. However, if Episode IX does take major creative liberties with her, I worry she could end up being part of the Knights of Ren.

Star Wars: Episode IX opens in theaters on December 20, 2019. Keep checking with CinemaBlend for more updates on this movie and the rest of the Star Wars franchise.

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