I've actually played games both ways. My sis and I have played for nigh unto forever - I started with the WEG games way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. She was all into her vampires though, so it fell to me to run the Star Wars games. She never liked anyone upstaging her, so the first time through I snipped and trimmed the Heroes; Luke died in a farming accident when he was only a young boy, but Han was there (I mean, seriously ... how can you not have hunky Han in a teenage girl's Star Wars campaign?) It was pretty neat, a lot of things changed, but I never felt satisfied.
I didn't actually have an enjoyable experience with playing near the cannon until I was challenged to run the movies as cannon and still make it epic. So .... I ran it from another angle. It started with the characters as Imperials. The group consisted of 3 Imperial pilots and a Royal Guardsman. I had read that the RG's get rotated into service among normal units to keep their edge and military presence. So the idea was that she (yea - a female Royal Guardsman - wanna say something?) was assigned to their TIE squadron on a temporary basis. The leader of the flight group was the nephew of the Emperor (and last living relative after a series of dastardly actions by "Rebels" wound up killing all of Palpatine's blood relatives) whose callsign was "Joker." Joining him was a former smuggler turned Imperial Ace and an ISB agent that served as "moral authority" of the flight group.
They wound up fighting at a skirmish in an asteroid field where some rebels stole a data file and escaped the group via a Corellian Corvette ID'ed as a ship called the Tantive IV. During the subsequent "debrief" by the Imperial Adviser assigned the case (some jerk named Vader), the Royal Guardsman (trained in divinatory force abilities to improve her value as a guard) picked up that Vader was present at (and responsible for) the death of Joker's parents. Quickly putting two and two together, the realization that "Unka Palpy" wouldn't want any blood relatives vying for the throne made Joker a dead man.
They proceeded to bide their time and when they found out that the rebels had been tracked to Yavin made their escape. They would up proving their worth over the Northern Hemisphere of the Death Star when Green and Blue Squadrons were creating a distraction for the Southern Hemisphere assault on the Trench. They wound up providing covering fire for the Rebels in their TIEs and defecting to the Rebels.
The rest of the game consisted of me playing the "background" of the movies as the group did things we find out would have derailed the films. For instance, in Empire Strikes Back, the characters are stuck on Hoth for considerably longer than whats shown for the rest of the group (they are ones that get stuck evacuating the T-47s - which in the movies you might catch teh droid telling Luke will take a considerable amount of time evacuate). While they successfully get them off planet, they wind up finding the Imperial Fleet still in orbit en masse for some reason (the Falcon). They eventually decide to use one of the T-47s (the snowspeeders) to create a fake distress call from outside the system (using the RG's high priority codes) - which causes the Star Destroyers to respond via military protocol (all firefly like) and opens the hyperspace corridor for them. It also conveniently forces a certain Star Destroyer to vent it's garbage before making the jump.
I think the best instance of how subtle the whole thing was can be seen in Joker's chasing of Leia. As they PCs were pilots, they hung out with the Rebel Pilots more than they did with anyone else, but Joker had a major crush on Leia. There was a standing joke that Wedge Antilles had taken up ice-sculptures while on Hoth because, well, what else was there to do. Joker got the idea to find a pict of a rare alderaanian flower and after winning a bet with Wedge had him make an ice sculpture of it. Well, after three or four sessions, Leia was still giving him the cold shoulder (pun intended), and he got all mad at me for not having anything come of it. I told him that something did become of it, and had him watch the movie. It gets to the scene with 3P0 and R2 coming down the tunnel talking back and forth and his eyes bulged and mouth dropped when 3P0 said, "I didn't tell you to turn on the thermal heater, I just mentioned it was freezing in the Princess' chamber! Honestly, I don't know how we're going to dry out all of her clothes."
10 years later and I still remember the look on his face! lol