There’s long been a demand within the Star Wars fandom for the franchise to revisit one of the prequels’ redeeming features – Ewan McGregor’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
With Disney having bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and subsequently reviving the film series with 2015’s The Force Awakens, there were rumours of an Obi-Wan spin-off movie, in the same vein as 2018’s Solo and a planned Boba Fett film. But with the Han Solo prequel underperforming at the box office, the gossip was that Disney were shelving all A Star Wars Story spin-offs and opting to focus instead on the flagship series.
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The upcoming launch of new streaming service Disney+ provided a new potential outlet for Obi-Wan’s adventures, though. The platform already had two Star Wars TV shows in the works – bounty hunter series The Mandalorian and a show featuring Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor before the events of Rogue One – with an Obi-Wan Kenobi series being officially added to the slate as of the D23 Expo in August.
Once the Obi-Wan show does materialise, though, what exactly will it be about?
One thing we do know, courtesy of the official Star Wars site, is that the new series will be comprised of stories “taking place eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, where we last saw Obi-Wan delivering the infant Luke Skywalker to his Tatooine homestead”.
Based on the age of its lead actor, it makes most sense for these new stories to be set in the undefined period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, in which Alec Guinness originally portrayed the Jedi Knight – McGregor’s now 48, 14 years older than when he last played Kenobi, but still around 15 years younger than Guinness when he first donned those famous robes.
It’s also the period that McGregor himself has he’d be interested in exploring, suggesting back in 2015 that he’d “be happy to do the story from episodes three where I finish up and Alec Guinness starts.” (via Daily Record)
With the Sith all-powerful and the Empire on the rise, Revenge of the Sith ends with Obi-Wan going into exile after handing Luke Skywalker over to Anakin’s stepbrother Owen and his wife Beru on Tatooine. A New Hope picks up decades later, with a much-older Kenobi hiding out on the desert planet as a hermit and going by the name ‘Ben Kenobi’ – not the most imaginative of aliases, but let’s move on…
What happened to the character in-between has never been properly addressed by the live-action Star Wars movies, though Obi-Wan does appear in the animated series Star Wars Rebel, set a few years before A New Hope. Here, he engages in another bout with his Sith nemesis Darth Maul, who it transpires did not die when he was bisected in The Phantom Menace (as also confirmed in Solo, which saw Ray Park reprise Maul in live-action after almost 20 years).
In the episode ‘Twin Suns’, Obi-Wan mortally wounds Maul during one final lightsaber duel, before returning to his vigil watching over the young Luke.
Novels have also been published chronicling Kenobi’s exploits between episodes three and four, but these books – including Jude Watson’s The Last of the Jedi series, James Luceno’s Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader and John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: Kenobi – were all written out of franchise continuity and declared non-canon by Lucasfilm in 2014, following its acquisition by Disney.
So there’s actually precious little in-canon material exploring this period in middle-aged Obi-Wan’s life – it feels like a rich vein to mine, following the once-great general as he’s forced to hide out and scavenge on a desolate planet, all the while hiding his true identity. Plus, just because he starts and ends this period of his life on Tatooine, that doesn’t mean that he spent all of his time there, so the opportunity exists for stories to take place off-world too.
One other possible strand to explore would be Obi-Wan’s relationship with his Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Though he too apparently perished in The Phantom Menace, Yoda revealed in Revenge of the Sith that Qui-Gon had returned from the “netherworld of the Force” in order to teach his fellow Jedi how to retain one’s consciousness after death. This thread could be picked up in a potential Obi-Wan series, particularly if Disney were open to having Liam Neeson reprise his Star Wars character.
For now, though, this is all just (informed) speculation: though all scripts for the series are written, filming won’t begin until 2020, which means that a premiere date is still “far, far away”.