HELP US, OBI WAN KENOBI: YOU’RE OUR ONLY HOPE?
The entire Internet seems certain of two things right now. One: that Star Wars is somehow a troubled brand (false: just WAIT for The Mandalorian and DON’T read silly plot leaks from The Rise of Skywalker; toy sales etc will normalise in time, too). And two? That EVERYONE wants Obi-Wan Kenobi’s onscreen return, played again by Ewan McGregor and that is therefore a clever move by Disney /LucasFilm to bring him back.
Merry Christmas: because, on the off-chance that one follows actual movie news..it looks like Ewan has indeed entered final negotiations to reprise one of his most famous roles (like he’d turn it down; like they’d find a better candidate?).
Before anything truly official is signed /sealed/confirmed, there is a narrow yet significant window for fan speculation and gratuitous advice /wish-lists.
And so, in that very spirit..
It seems a mistake to restrict this endeavour to the small screen. Every piece of fan art depicted a kind of Lawrence of Arabia in space and that would have been a truly epic prospect. Ewan McGregor is also, a MOVIE star. He just is. True; he has done television (Fargo, Kavanagh QC). But he is known primarily on film. He is quasi bankable. Doctor Sleep (Shining sequel) will use him, as will Warner/DC’s Birds of Prey film next year. Sticking him on the streaming services, without being snobbish about it, does seem a little cheap?
On the other hand, it enables greater frequency and variety of content. A movie is what: two hours? Fans can now get at least six from the wise Jedi in Ewan form. Not bad! And these things are made with a cinematic quality by top flight personnel, there can always be a cinematic spin off if need be, whilst avoiding the level of risk that was associated with and thereby undermined last year’s SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Trust me, this tele-visual compromise of format kinda makes sense.
When will it be Set?
We are probably looking at the downtime on Tatooine. That’s about twenty years: from the end of Revenge of the Sith / Star Wars Episode 3 to Episode 4/ A New Hope. Plenty of time to cover. Allows for multiple series and the occasional big break in between.
What’s He Gonna Do?
Having Ewan simply meditate in a Cave, even with the odd Liam Neeson/Yoda cameo..great though that is, probably won’t fill an entire series, though no doubt plenty fans would watch that. There will be an element of day in the desert life: finding blue milk; evading sand people rampages, running from a sand-storm. You know the general sort of thing. Some character evolution is inevitable, moving toward the sage wizard of the original trilogy.
That said, one mistake the prequels made was in having Ewan play Obi-Wan as old before his time. It’s at odds with his own roguish charisma as an actor (cf Shallow Grave: the film that got him spotted in the first place, as he was kind of like a cross between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in ‘look’ there?). Also, notice Alec Guinness‘ own subtle yet significant take on the character: he smiles in nostalgic recognition at the cynical devil may care attitude of Harrison Ford, as if to say ‘yeah..that was me, once’.
So let’s see old ‘Ben’ Kenobi have some FUN en route to his older years. The man knows how to navigate a rough and tough Bar and he does like a drink. And he’s on the run, in hiding, always alert to danger, too. That’s why his dressing so conspicuously like a Jedi is a bit odd, though one could explain that the whole galaxy has started adopting old relics as a fashion so we can give that a pass (Owen Lars is in the same gear). Maybe he has some force power to cloud peoples’ perceptions. Heck..have him do a native Scottish accent and his signature Ewan laugh, too as an additional escape measure!
Maybe Kenobi even toys with the dark side in an episode? I remember a fascinating rumoured twist for the prequels years ago was that it was in fact Ewan’s Obi rather than Hayden Christensen’s Anakin who turns dark but Anakin then adopts his mentor’s name to cover the fall, forever. That would have been a twist of mind boggling proportion, but there are hints even in Phantom Menace of conflict (he calls on the dark side a bit to defeat Darth Maul?).
In short: there is PLENTY for this character left to do, infinite time to fill and limitless potential to explore..so take your time, please and do not rush to a prematurely grey bearded finish. Drink, fight, even fall in love and have force babies. Do the occasional off world mission for hire. Anything is possible.
‘Choose Life..Choose Hiding out on a desert planet for twenty f##kin’ years, doin’ f##k all in a f##kin’ cave, shovin’ blue milk down yer gob..I chose not to choose life..I chose something else!’..
Impossible to say, this is. Speculation is fun, though. Many fans will demand some Darth. Love a bit o’Darth. Fine. Vader, Maul, the works. But be careful what you sith for. Maul has been beaten by Kenobi, twice. Once on film and then in an animated show. One could repeat that, do a flashback, have him face Maul’s brother etc. Fine. But it’s also not THAT important?
As for Vader, well, at some point, yes, there MUST be a big revelation: Kenobi is happily drinking in a bar or something and sees a holocron news item about the Emperor’s new enforcer. It clicks that it’s his own old apprentice, Anakin, still alive. Ewan has to capture THAT fear, sadness, regret but also a resolute determination to ice that bad guy once and for all.
So some sort of force simulation fight might be an idea and one could then have a mutual momentary flash of the actual Vader doing same in his own meditation, as though these two KNOW they will meet again, in time. But if you have an ACTUAL confrontation, you then kind of retcon the mythology of A New Hope, which implied the two figures had fought just once, at THAT volcanic showdown, before finally meeting again, at last, aboard the Death Star. It’s doable. But must be done ‘right’.
Plenty other baddies in the stars. Bounty Hunters, gangsters, Hutts, ‘Black Sun’, slavers, smugglers, Jawas, Tusken Raiders, fundamentalist rebels, Tilda Swinton shaped Sith witches, nature itself (storms, drought etc): plenty to keep Kenobi going!
And then there is the inevitable rivalry with Owen Lars. They both feel duty bound to watch over a young Luke Skywalker. Some occasional encounter/clash is inevitable and I’m sure Joel Edgerton would be happy to do a cameo and maybe even direct the related episode (go watch Boy Erased: it’s amazing!).
More to come once official confirmations are released. Meantime? May the Force be with you..always..
JAMES MURPHY IS A JEDI KNIGHT.