It was announced this week that the Jedi Master himself, Obi-Wan Kenobi, has a film in the earliest stages of development. This report from The Hollywood Reporter has yet to be confirmed by Disney and it’s not the first time since the slew of new Star Wars films that Obi’s own flick has been through the rumour mill. As of yet, Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliott) is in talks to direct, but there’s no script and therefore no idea whether Ewan McGregor will dust off his lightsaber for a return to the galaxy far, far away. But this is being treated as legitimate, so let’s run with it.
Obi-Wan is one of the most important characters in the Star Wars universe and his story is one that could help bridge the original series with the new trilogy. Here’s some ideas of where the film could, should, and perhaps will go.
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, we learn that Obi-Wan’s old Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, has found a way to communicate with Yoda after death. Yoda promises to teach Obi-Wan this ability (and the ability to do the same after his death). Yoda has always been a character in the sidelines during the Star Wars story, with the prequels not giving the Jedi Master room for much character development. A story about Kenobi and Yoda’s relationship, both personally and as master-and-student, would give both characters the credit they deserve. Their literal and metaphorical worlds are falling apart around them. Even as stoic Jedi Masters, to see their long-standing Republic fall must have taken its toll in some manner.
This damage, whatever it may be, would be such an interesting focal point for the film. Ideally, we need to see Obi-Wan’s properly mourning the death of his friend and apprentice, while being aided by Yoda to regain faith in the Force and lay down some kind of foundation for the Rebellion. What’s important for these characters is to remain afar, though, from the actual dealings of their new galaxy.
Obi-Wan’s transformation from Obi to Ben is something overdue in the cinematic universe. His share of the blame in allowing Anakin to turn to the Dark Side must have affected his psychology and integrity as both a Jedi Master and a father figure. I don’t think it would do the character any justice by turning back the clock and making a prequel. Ideally, if Ewan McGregor wanted to reprise the role, I would find no issue. He was the highlight of the prequels; there was a real charm and talent in his performance, and he’s by no means too old to play Obi-Wan within the suggested story above. He’s also expressed interest in donning the robes and beard again, and I think many Star Wars fans would welcome him with open arms. Ultimately, we need to see the portrayal of a broken Obi-Wan Kenobi and McGregor has the acting chops to fit.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was much darker in tone than the other films in the franchise. It was a welcome change of pace which was more grounded in the reality of the world(s) in which Jyn and her gang were trapped in. It’s greatest triumph was in maligning the Empire of the original series more harshly. Even the Stormtroopers were scary! Arguably, one of Vader’s best scenes in the entire franchise was the slaughtering of rebel troops in an attempt to retrieve the Death Star plans. There’s a lesson that the Obi-Wan standalone could learn from this. The success or failure of Obi-Wan’s own film depends on its ability to show audiences the brutality of the early Empire’s iron fist as it gains control over the galaxy.
What’s the point in an Obi-Wan film? Is it enough for the film to just fill in the pages of history, or should it be written to tie into the larger Star Wars story? I think Obi-wan still has a part to play in Rey’s story, whether directly or indirectly. His voice cameo in Episode 7 reveals the Jedi Master is not wholly gone. Perhaps Master Kenobi’s ghost, alongside Luke, can assist Rey in revealing the true nature of the Jedi Order and its faults; something he has also learned since Anakin’s transformation. In the solo Kenobi film, the reasons why the Republic truly fell and where Anakin saw fault with the Jedi Order should be a constant plague and driving force in Obi-Wan’s mind.
An Obi-Wan Kenobi film will be welcomed by many, possibly shunned by many more. Star Wars is a polarising franchise to say the least, but if Disney and Lucasfilm can do it right, it could be one of the most rewarding films in the series’ history.