It’s as hard to find the facts about Star Wars movie announcements in a sea of rumors as it is to find facts about your parentage in a conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
“You’re going to find that many of the Star Wars rumors we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” he would probably like to tell a great many people today if he could see the hysteria in the fan community regarding a “confirmation” of a standalone film about the wise Jedi who tried and failed to train Anakin Skywalker.
So Far, Nothing Has Happened
As far as this writer and fact-stickler can tell, the rumor originated as soon as there was confirmation of standalone Star Wars films shortly after Disney purchased Lucasfilm in October 2012. When it became known that these films would cover characters and events tangential to the main Skywalker storyline, a lot of us believed that Kenobi would be a very logical choice. Ewan McGregor, who reprised his role from the prequels in a do-what-ever-the-equivalent-of-blinking-for-your-ears-is-and-you’ll-miss-it audio came in The Force Awakens, has repeatedly stated that he’s open to returning for such a project.
Recently, an article in The Hollywood Reporter claimed that the film is confirmed, with Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry in talks to direct. While I’m not opposed to an Obi-Wan Kenobi film, allow me to do my duty to the fan community and clear something up:
The Hollywood Reporter does not have any more authority to confirm this than you or I do. Official Star Wars confirmations always appear on StarWars.com, and to suggest this is a confirmation is misleading. As of this moment, there is no script, nor have a lead actor or director been signed.
Whew, got that outta the way.
Where the Movie, Once Written, Could Actually Go
Now let’s talk about what I would want from such a standalone! I’ve got two distinct ideas.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to see Ewan reprise his role as the aging Jedi-turned-hermit watching over Luke Skywalker?
No, no it wouldn’t, because the whole point is that things were boring for them both. Marvel’s Star Wars series has chronicled Kenobi fighting Jabba’s thugs in a sort of turf war as they unknowingly threatened the son of the Chosen One, and Star Wars Rebels had him engaged in a very long-awaited duel with an old foe. How much more excitement can his hermitage contain before it isn’t a hermitage?
But what would be cool, as many have said, is an adaptation of John Jackson Miller’s (now non-canonical) novel, Kenobi, a space western dealing with moisture farmers on Tatooine clashing with a marauding Tusken Raider warlord. Obi-Wan is a very important figure in the conflict, but the story doesn’t really center on him so much as how the people of Tatooine interact with him. It explores themes of sacrifice and change, perfect for Kenobi during this time period.
I’ve seen a bit of fan chatter about how cool this adaptation would be. It would certainly utilize Ewan McGregor well, and, let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that they’d do this without him on board given his willingness to return and popularity among fans. But get your pitchforks ready: that wouldn’t be my first choice.
In The Clone Wars TV series, we meet Satine Kryze, Duchess of Mandalore and former lover of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As a young man, Kenobi and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, spent a year on Mandalore protecting her from an insurgency movement. The extent their secret relationship reached is unclear, but in a shocking confession, Kenobi confesses he would have left the Jedi Order to be with her had she asked.
This, to me, is the most fertile ground for stories involving Kenobi. It would involve recasting the role yet again, but a teenage Obi-Wan struggling with his Master’s constant disobedience and maverick behavior but also his own chafing under Jedi dogma is a fascinating and under-explored story that would shed new light on his handling of the situation with Anakin and Padmé in the prequels. As The Last Jedi seems to be redefining the role of the Jedi in the galaxy, this story could serve to highlight the failings, shortcomings, and outright corruption of the old Jedi Order, strengthening the themes of Episode VIII. Also, as the story takes place years before The Clone Wars and is not overly reliant on the pantheon of new characters introduced in the show, it’s accessible for a general audience, since the only established character involved in this tale but not in the current films is Satine, and this would be Kenobi’s first meeting with her as well.
I think Lucasfilm’s willingness to do such an “origin story” type of film will depend on the reception the as-yet-untitled Han Solo film gets next May. I’m not incredibly optimistic that they’d take a risk as large as this, but I also didn’t think they’d do a young Han Solo film, so I’m 0-1 at this point. Regardless of what the plot may or may not be, at this point, there’s nothing confirmed about a Kenobi film. That’s not to say it won’t happen, though. Fans of the crazy old wizard who lives out beyond the Dune Sea should be careful not to make the same mistake he did with his former Padawan: never give up hope.