December 16, 2016: that’s the date when the Star Wars saga will no longer just be about the Skywalker family and the fall from grace of the person who would become Darth Vader. The first standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One, will be a wildcard in many respects, but it’ll definitely be a move in the right direction to expand an already enormous galaxy of potential stories. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord’s standalone Han Solo movie will follow that on May 25, 2018 with another untitled standalone movie hitting sometime in 2020.
The third is heavily rumored to be about the bounty hunter clone extraordinaire Boba Fett, and while that may be the case, another potential title keeps popping up for a standalone candidate after that. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a massive fan favorite bolstered by grandfatherly nostalgia for the original trilogy and a younger generation who loves the hero from Ewan McGregor’s portrayal in the prequel trilogy and the animated Clone Wars TV series. An Obi-Wan movie is inevitable, but should it be?
There’s plenty of obvious options for other Star Wars stories out there. Though it’ll be reassuring to see iconic details from the movies we know and love scattered throughout — like the prominently featured Death Star in the Rogue One advertising — the sheer size and potential of the Star Wars galaxy almost compels you to want to know more about its history. Thus, the braintrust at Lucasfilm should try and develop standalone movies that stay predominantly away from stories involving the Jedi and the Sith. We’ve had six movies of all that already, and it’d be a lost opportunity to just continually dip into the same Force-sensitive pond.
The simple fact is that Kenobi has already been prominently featured in the movies, and standalone movie about him would be redundant. Granted, so has Han Solo for that matter, though he was only in the original trilogy. Yet the true reason to pursue standalone movies (besides all the sweet, sweet cash Lucasfilm is going to pull in) for characters both tangential and not is that there should be a significant backstory gleaned from a standalone adventure that informs their original characterization.
It works best with exploring relative unknowns like Boba Fett because most of the (hopefully beneficial) storytelling legwork will be done in the standalones to be shaded into the original performances. With still well-worn characters like Han you want to see how that magnetic personality came to be simply because you want to see more of him. Do we really want or need to see more of Obi-Wan’s boy scout heroics and didactic demeanor?
The real question about Kenobi, however brave and noble and iconic he may be, is would learning the reason Obi-Wan Kenobi became Obi-Wan Kenobi be revelatory at all? The answer is: probably not. From the prequels through the original trilogy we’ve already seen him go from the doting Padawan learner into the master that comes to regret his decisions with Anakin only to reappear to right his wrongs through Luke. His arc is more or less complete.
You’re delusional to think that this won’t happen, though, so it’s worth thinking about the possible narrative arcs that writers might utilize. The most logical Obi-Wan story would be for a movie about his time between dropping off Luke on Tatooine in Revenge of the Sith and his re-emergence in the life of the young Skywalker in A New Hope. This is the territory of Star Wars Rebels, but the specifics about Obi-Wan could be fudged a big to make room for him during this time on the big-screen. Make the adventure some kind of lone samurai rōnin story that tells us why the only surviving Jedi is tested to his limits but ultimately ends up on that desolate planet protecting Luke from afar. It’s the best angle from a character standpoint left.
It’d also simply make sense for McGregor to step back into the role looking a bit older than he did at the end of Revenge of the Sith and not as grey as Alec Guinness was during A New Hope. McGregor, for his part, wants to return, and agrees about the potential for a post-Episode III storyline. McGregor himself told Collider earlier this year, “I’d very much like to do [a standalone movie] too. I think the story between Episode III and Episode IV, I think there’s a story there. I think that’s the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, if there is one.
There definitely will be one, Ewan, don’t you worry. And if we’re lucky Lucasfilm will heed our advice. But as everyone — including Ben Kenobi — knows, there’s no such thing as luck.