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Obi-Wan Kenobi theory finally explains a crucial New Hope moment

Darth Vader didn’t get worse at fighting, just better at defense.

Star Wars is a franchise that’s forever growing and changing, taking advantage of the latest advancements in special effects and production, and even going so far as to retroactively update the older releases with “better” effects. But instead of retconning old lackluster elements, Obi-Wan Kenobi went in another direction by creating a logical explanation for why the emotional climax of A New Hope is not a glamorous as it could be.

Redditor jackanackanorey posted a theory that explains the huge discrepancy between the fight choreography in the original series and the prequels. In the prequels, there were epic martial arts infused fights, one of which included a backflipping Yoda. Flash forward about 20 years in the timeline and all the duels are almost timid.

Obi-Wan and Darth Vader face off in A New Hope. Lucasfilm

The quintessential example is to compare Anakin and Obi-Wan’s duel in Revenge of the Sith with their duel in A New Hope. In the former, Anakin often fought one handed while doing all sorts of acrobatic flips. Years later, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan fight exclusively with slow, two-handed swings.

Obviously, there are creative reasons for all of this; special effects were limited in the ‘70s, and lightsaber duels were originally envisioned as slow and deliberate battles with heavy weapons before the prequels made them flashier. But within the Star Wars universe this change can’t just be chalked up to aging: You may move slower, but learned skills remain the same. Instead, this theory suggests that Vader learned a valuable lesson about self-defense.

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s finale gave fans what they so craved: A rematch between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. In this fight, which resembled the prequels’ combat style, Obi-Wan kicked Vader’s control panel, making his mechanical life support system go haywire.

Vader used one-handed combat in the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale. Lucasfilm

So when they meet up later as older men, Vader knows better than to leave himself so vulnerable. Instead he’s cautious, keeping his weapon in front of him the entire time. It may not be the more interesting fighting style, but it’s definitely the smartest.

This theory provides a great interpretation of this scene. Some scenes in Obi-Wan Kenobi made the transition from prequel to original trilogy a bit more confusing, like Luke and Leia apparently not knowing Ben Kenobi despite meeting him. But this perspective shows how more content can render even the most annoying fan complaints null and void, and all while actually serving the themes and narratives of Star Wars as a whole.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.