Star Wars fans received some welcome news about the long-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie. Originally played in Star Wars: A New Hope by the transcendent Alec Guinness, Kenobi was portrayed admirably by actor Ewan McGregor in the three Star Wars prequels (as well as in one line in Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The recent The Hollywood Reporter exclusive revealed Disney to be in talks with director Stephen Daldry to oversee writing and development of a standalone film focused on the beloved character.
Disney has yet to confirm this report, but if true, it’s very exciting. Assuming that the story would feature on the 20 or so years spent on Tatooine between the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, we could be getting the answer to one of the biggest mysteries in the franchise: Just what exactly did Old Ben do while he waited patiently for the right moment to reveal himself?
We dug into this mystery, plus several other questions for the upcoming Kenobi solo film, which could hit theaters as early as 2020.
What did he do for all those years?
We last saw Kenobi handing off baby Luke to Beru Lars at the end of Revenge of the Sith. From there, we don’t know a ton about his story. The Marvel Comic series, From the Journals of Ben Kenobi, gave us a small glimpse into his life on Tatooine, and those stories might have an idea or two for a live action movie. However, Disney has so far been pretty reluctant to redevelop any existing canon stories — especially ones of their own creation — for the big screen.
There has to be more than just sitting in the desert, getting a tan, and aging at an absurd rate for Obi-Wan. We know that he’s familiar with Mos Eisley in A New Hope, so there’s a solid chance we could see him there mingling among the riffraff. An interesting wrinkle to the story could be that Kenobi can’t whip out his lightsaber or publicly use the Force, for fear of the Empire tracking him down.
So in that sense, the movie could really end up showing us the challenges of day-to-day life.
Would it make sense for Darth Vader to appear?
Since the time period allowed for it in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney found a way to tastefully intertwine Darth Vader into the movie. His total screen time was a fraction of the overall film, left to just two very satisfying scenes. With the Han Solo film also falling into the time period just before A New Hope, there were rumors — later denied — that Vader may be making yet another appearance in that movie. Hey, Star Wars fans love Darth Vader, so why not take every chance to give the fans what they want?
In a movie focused on a post-Revenge of the Sith Kenobi, Vader is the elephant in the room. The reason Kenobi is hiding away in isolation is because Vader is hell-bent on wiping out the Jedi, including his old master — not to mention, the man who is responsible for putting Vader in his uncomfortable black suit.
All of that is fine and good — however, it would be tough to imagine that this elephant will end up on the screen. For the sense of the story, Vader never makes a trip back to Tatooine prior to A New Hope. That is where all the ties to Anakin Skywalker remain, something that he would want to completely put behind him.
Not only that, but creating any confrontation between Kenobi and Vader after Revenge of the Sith, but prior to their iconic duel on the Death Star in A New Hope would cheapen the whole story by rewriting it. That is not to say it won’t happen, but more that it shouldn’t.
What happened between him and Owen Lars?
In A New Hope, we get the sense that Owen Lars — Luke’s uncle — really doesn’t care for Kenobi. He does call him a crazy old wizard and pretty much orders Luke to stay away from him. In return, Old Ben tries to convince Luke to run off with him on a space adventure without so much as informing his aunt and uncle. He even tosses in a sly line — “That’s your uncle talking” –to help manipulate Luke’s emotions.
Suffice it to say, something happened here. In the prequels, we never so much as see Kenobi and Lars interact with one another. Considering that he delivered Luke to Owen and Beru with the promise that he would watch over the boy, there has to be something interesting that developed. Why is Luke so relatively unfamiliar with Kenobi at the time of A New Hope, other than knowing him by his fake name? Was there a major disagreement between Lars and Kenobi, possibly on the topic of the old Jedi wanting to start Luke’s training at a young age?
Who else might appear in the movie?
This is where the fun speculation lives. For Rogue One, there were a ton of cameos and extra characters that made the movie extra exciting for the diehard Star Wars fan. In fact, it might have even gone to the point of silliness. Did we really need the “You Just Watch Yourself” guy in a scene on Jedha? But anyway, brief appearances by Mon Mothma, Bale Organa, Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, Princess Leia, Chopper, and The Ghost ship from Star Wars Rebels received a mostly positive reception from the fans.
The currently untitled Han Solo film has confirmed the title character, along with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and more — Boba Fett? Jabba the Hutt? — almost certainly on the way. So who would make sense to appear in the Kenobi movie? Outside of the previously discussed characters — Owen Lars, Beru Lars, and Darth Vader — anyone living on Tatooine is reasonable. But is a Watto appearance totally necessary? Would it make sense for Disney to give us a look at young Luke in anything more than a brief snapshot (like they did so tastefully in the season three episode of Rebels)?
What we would like to see is some sort of cameo appearance from Liam Neeson, the actor behind Qui-Gon Jin in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. He was Obi-Wan’s mentor and one of the biggest influences on his life, and we already learned at the end of Revenge of the Sith that Yoda was going to teach Obi-Wan how to commune with him through the Force.
Did Kenobi find a love interest?
All the questions about Rey’s parentage in The Force Awakens — including McGregor’s line during her vision,“These are your first steps” — has led some to speculate that Rey could be a direct descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As far as we know from the films, Kenobi didn’t father any children and furthermore, had no love interests. But at the same time, we know little about what went on while he was hiding out from the Empire on Tatooine. The man has to do something, right?
And there is some precedent here. We know from Revenge of the Sith that Jedi were forbidden the attachment of marriage and family, but Kenobi did have a love interest in his early years. As explained in the canon cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars, there was a bit more than just a friendship going on between Obi-Wan and Mandalorian Duchess, Satine Kryze.
The story arc ends with a revenge-bent Darth Maul killing Satine in front of Kenobi. Could he learn to love again on Tatooine?
Will the movie involve Darth Maul in some way?
For fans of the Star Wars movies, the most exciting thing leading up to The Phantom Menace was the awesome, devil-looking bad guy, Darth Maul. He was super scary-looking and had a freaking double-bladed lightsaber. So cool!
And then young Obi-Wan cut him in half at the end of the movie, and we never heard from him again in the movies. Of all the prequel mistakes, killing off Maul so fast may have been George Lucas’ biggest.
Fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels, however, know that Maul survived the end of The Phantom Menace and went on to have several meetings with Kenobi, creating a story arc within the Star Wars universe that was specific to the two characters. This culminated with Maul finding Kenobi, nearly the full Alec Guinness version, on Tatooine and losing a final battle to the old man.
So would it make sense to put Maul in the movie, assuming it takes place prior to their final duel? Unfortunately, it would not. Had Disney decided not to do the episode of Rebels that gave us the stunning and satisfying conclusion to the Kenobi/Maul storyline, it would’ve been possible. But considering that Maul was unaware of Kenobi’s location prior to that, it just wouldn’t make any sense. Oh, what could’ve been.
Will the movie rely heavily on acting, tone, and score?
The Star Wars franchise has always been about space pirates, the evil Empire, and the Skywalker family story. Rogue One was the first to break from that tradition even slightly, removing the Skywalker aspect from the plot and instead focusing on a cast of new characters — even if Darth Vader and Princess Leia, both of Skywalker blood, were seen in the film. But there is a chance that a Kenobi film could turn away from the usual formula in a very big way.
Director Stephen Daldry, known for his Oscar-nominated films Billy Elliott, The Hours, and The Readers, is best when leading a drama — not a swashbuckling space western. Considering everything we know about Obi-Wan, his backstory, and where he is headed, getting a more serious character study marked by a darker tone and beautiful score would be right up Daldry’s alley. Could we get the first Star Wars film to be limited to just one planet?
Alex at Star Wars Explained notes that this movie could be to Obi-Wan what Logan was to Wolverine. Not necessarily as violent or dark, but a somber look at an old Jedi who has been lost in the desert for some time, searching for his purpose and attempting to discover both where he went wrong and what he can do to atone for his role in the creation of Darth Vader and the Empire. In all honesty, that sounds amazing. Come on Disney, give this to us!