The prequels introduced to the movie screen things that were, until now, only in print. Things that some viewers complain about were actually explained in print, in some cases, long before the movies.
From Print to Movie
The world of Coruscant was glimpsed in Return of the Jedi’s Special Edition. But until The Phantom Menace, only expanded universe fans knew it was named Coruscant, capital of the Republic and Empire. The name came from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy.
Aayla Secura, the blue skinned twilek in the background of Attack of the Clones, was originally created in Dark Horse Comic, Republic series. We’d seen hints of her life all the way back to childhood.
Obi-Wan and Anakin’s adventure at Cato Nemoidia was actually told in Labyrinth of Evil before the reference made by Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.
Quinlan Vos, mentioned in Revenge of the Sith was also created in Dark Horse comics, Republic series. He was based on a background character seen in Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace. His career as a Jedi was a regular feature in the series. He was considered for a physical role and concept art bears that out.
Buzz Droids were first mentioned in the short story Murder in Slush Time by Barbara Hambly, in the Star Wars Adventure Journal of West End Games. They appear in Revenge of the Sith.
Wheelbikes, such as General Grievous used, first appeared in the animated Droids cartoons.
Solar Sailer Ships, Such as Count Dooku’s are first scene in the Tales of the Jedi Comics, as well as Firestorm and Junior Jedi Knights. In the latter stories a ship with solar sails was piloted by Jedi historian Tionne.
Double Bladed Lightsaber, such as used by Darth Maul, first appeared in Tales of the Jedi comics and was used by Exar Kun.
Leia and her Mother
Leia remembering her Mother in Return of the Jedi is a much complained about detail about the prequels. However, the Revenge of the Sith novelization says the infant was looking at Padme and Luke also seems to unknowingly remember her on the subject of Anakin with the line “There is still good in him.”
The version of Leia remembering her Mother, hiding and running was taken from an early version of the Return of the Jedi script, and removed from the movie as Lucas didn’t want to tie himself down in the future. At the time, there was no expanded universe, hence no conflict.
Rebel Je’daii observation:
It is also mentioned in various stories that Force sensitivity can be used (knowingly or not) to enhance memories. For instance:
In the Thrawn trilogy, Luke sees a vision of a possible past.
In Children of the Jedi, also published before the movies, he mentions ‘finding’ something with the Force as a child and upsetting his Uncle. It’s well established even before the prequels that a Force Sensitive may have unusual recall and use the Force, unknowingly, even as children.
In Jedi Apprentice, The Hidden Truth, Obi-Wan remembers his brother, Owen, who he would have last seen when he himself was only an infant.
Therefore it’s not a stretch to consider that the Force sensitive Leia remembered her mother through ‘visions’ of the Force. She also knew she was adopted, suggesting she discussed it with her adoptive family and had it confirmed that these were ‘memories’ of her mother.
Finally, Padme was bound body and blood to the offspring of the most powerful Jedi of his age. This may have enhanced her own Force sensitivity. This is conjecture based partly on how she knew to look at the Temple right when Anakin was looking from their to her. Also, it’s been proven possible in other ways. See Yoda, Dark Rendezvous and Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast for cases where this was done.
In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine claims the Republic had stood for 1000 years. This initially seems to clash with Obi-Wan’s statement in A New Hope: “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice of the Old Republic.” According to the dictionary, a generation is about 30 years, making the Republic at the minimum 3000 years old.
In fact though, 1000 years ago was the time of a massive reorganization of the Republic. It was known as the Ruusan Reformations. Ruusan was the place of the last battle between Jedi and Sith, when the Sith (they thought) were defeated. The reorganization put the Jedi in the government structure as a loose branch of the Judicial department. Hence this was a ‘newer’ Republic Palpatine referred too.
The story is told in the Darth Bane stories, and Jedi VS Sith mini series by Dark Horse comics.
Owen’s confusion comes from the novelization of Return of the Jedi, a piece cut (fortunately) from the final movie script. In it, Kenobi’s spirit claims Owen was actually his brother. Cleverly, the writers hedged their bets on this. In Jedi Apprentice it reveals Obi-Wan really did have a brother named Owen, barely remembered. It does not name any details on him. The short story ‘Lone Wolf’ also has Obi-Wan noting the realization that he remembered a brother named Owen, and he was now searching for Owen Lars, step brother of a man he thought of like a brother.
Clever Repairs, Tweaks and Corrections After the Fact
The biggest glitch caused by the prequels was to the timeline. It had long been considered that the clone wars occurred around 30 or 40 years before A New Hope. While no one had written directly about that time, even a mention of events or of a parent or grandparent for a character could be thrown off.
Leia and the Empire’s deception to the Noghri. discovering Honoghrs Clone Wars catastrophe…the sourcebook suggests she accidentally used the planets own rotational period for the count.
Halcyons and Horns. Corran Horn’s father’s age is thrown off, as he was considered about 10 in the clone wars. Also Nejaa Halcyon, his grandfather was said to be killed right after. Nejaa’s explanation was that for some worlds, the war already had moved on.
Spaarti cylinders and Unstable Clones. Naturally, when the Thrawn trilogy was writing it was assumed the Clones were the ‘bad guys’ against the Jedi. However it was revealed in the Republic Commando stories that there really were clones grown by people other than the Kaminoans, and the results weren’t always emotionally stable. This was to hide the extra clones from the Jedi Generals. Also Dark Horse Comics revealed that certain Nikto were being cloned to fight for the Separatists.
Pellaeon and the long Naval Career. This may seem off after one sees in the prequels that the Republic had no standing army or navy. However, they did have a judiciary fleet. Member worlds also had fleets. These actually tied into the ‘Katana’ storyline. Pellaeon is directly mentioned in The Clone Wars TV series tie in books.
The Jedi didn’t marry. One has to consider that this began with Tales of the Jedi, by Dark Horse comics, set long before the prequels. The transition to banning marriage seems to have started in between the Tales of the Jedi era and the Knights of the Old Republic era. That means a change within one generation. It’s not a stretch to believe Anakin Skywalker isn’t the only one who would disagree on the rule. In Jedi Trial, Nejaa Halcyon confesses to him that he has a secret family. In The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, book, Djinn Altis (master of the Jedi from Children of the Jedi) was revealed to be leader of a Splinter Faction. And in Knights of the Old Republic itself, Jolee Bindo has a great deal to say about why he left the Jedi that ties into the subject.
As for Master Ki-Adi-Mundi’s family, it’s apparently because Cereans have a very low birth rate, especially among males, that he was given special dispensation.
Only Masters sit on the Jedi Council. Anakin said this long after Dark Horse Comics Ki-Adi-Mundi had been praised for gaining a seat while a mere Jedi Knight. This was explained as Master Mundi was only a temporary sit in for Master Giett, who was on an extended mission and out of touch.
Greedo. Greedo had long had a backstory, written in the Tales of Mos Eisley Anthology. This got damaged by the Phantom Menace novelization, which had Anakin Skywalker (at age 9) getting into a fist fight with him. It was later explained that one was Greedo the Elder and the other was Greedo the Younger, relatives.
Boba Fett. Boba Fett’s tale from the Bounty Hunter Wars claimed he started life as Jaster Mereel of Concord Dawn, exiled for murder. Naturally his new ‘cloned’ birth alters this. The expanded universe explained this by having Jaster Mereel of Concord Dawn being the man who adopted Jango Fett when his family was killed. Boba’s life did mimic his, in that he moved at one point to Concord Dawn, became a Journeyman Protector, only to be exiled for murder. Dark Horse Comics tells the story in the Jango Fett mini series and Republic Commando gives mention as well.
Tombstones. A minor, niggling background detail but still a puzzle. In Attack of the Clones there are clearly headstones on the Lars farm. The represented relatives of the Lars, not only Shmi. In A New Hope they are just gone. According to the Life of Luke Skywalker, he remembers overhearing a discussion about how his Uncle didn’t see any need for anyone to know where they were buried.