Social media has become flooded in the last few days with Disney’s enormous announcement of upcoming Marvel and Star Wars universe projects, ranging from live-action Disney+ shows to feature films and more experimental animated spinoffs. Perhaps the most anticipated and asked for of these is the series based around legendary Star Wars character Obi-wan Kenobi, with Ewan McGregor reprising his iconic character for the first time since 2005. But is the show a good idea?
I love Ewan McGregor, and I love Revenge of the Sith. What Disney has been doing with The Mandalorian (their live-action Star Wars TV show trial) has been exceptional and it is evident that McGregor is immensely passionate about his character and the show’s success. Fans have requested McGregor’s return for some years now, no doubt helped by the vast surge of Star Wars related memes (particularly from the prequel trilogy) and social media posts about the franchise. It is a logical move to do by Disney: give the fans what they want as an indirect apology for their sequel trilogy. However, the series throws up some questions that need to be addressed.
Obi-wan Kenobi is intended to be set ten years after Revenge of the Sith, and therefore nine years before Alec Guinness played the character in A New Hope. This makes Kenobi’s charge, Luke Skywalker, ten years old. It is certainly fascinating to know what the exiled Jedi got up to in these years, but the answer is surely not exciting enough to warrant an entire TV show. Obi-wan is effectively bound to Tatooine in order to protect Luke which would refreshingly ground the show on a singular planet, but Tatooine has long been exhausted as a location (as The Mandalorian discovered) and it seems too familiar. Is there anything new to tell on this planet? What’s more, the show is already starting to sound like George Lucas’ version of Logan: a weary, old hero in the desert protecting a powerful child from external threats. It is a surprise the show isn’t just called ‘Ben’.
Fans also rejoiced at the simultaneous announcement that Hayden Christensen will be reprising his role as Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader, a worthy thing to praise that again raises some curious questions. If Christensen is featuring will he be in the Vader suit or voicing him? While the actor definitely deserves another chance to prove himself, it is widely accepted that James Earl Jones is irreplaceable as the voice of Darth Vader. Furthermore, it has been teased that the show will contain a legendary ‘rematch’ between the two actors. This is something worth watching the show for but, again, why? Their encounter in A New Hope would be robbed of the dramatic heft, and if Vader is on Tatooine (his home planet nonetheless) would he not put two and two together? The other route for a Christensen vs McGregor sequence is a vision. An exciting prospect, but ultimately inconsequential. How this will all work is intriguing,
I would love nothing more than for this show to be brilliantly devised and rich in enough character and narrative work to make it worthwhile, but on face value, it seems like over the top fan service that feels completely unneeded and logistically problematic for the Star Wars saga.
Check out the announcement trailer and official Tweet below:
Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader, joining Ewan McGregor in OBI-WAN KENOBI. The Original Series begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Revenge of the Sith, and is coming to #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/9WR2npRUkk
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 10, 2020