WARNING! Minor Star Wars canon spoilers below!
Today's surprise news that Lucasfilm is developing a stand-alone film for Obi-Wan Kenobi is not that surprising. It's probably the #1 fan suggestion, with the next words out of their mouths being "starring Ewan McGregor." In fact, it seems like for the last two or three years, it's been impossible for the actor, who played a younger Obi-Wan in the prequel trilogy, to give an interview without being asked if he would be interested in returning to the role (he always says yes).
While even the admittedly early reports -- which centered on director Stephen Daldry having a conversation with Lucasfilm about the movie -- have said they don't have a script or even a story idea locked down, it's almost impossible to imagine they'd do anything other than have Ewan McGregor return to the role for his time in exile on Tatooine, watching over the young Luke Skywalker.
With over two years of free publicity drumming up support, it'd be hard to give that up, for starters. That era between the prequel and original trilogies, colloquially known as "the Dark Times," has also been a major source of new Star Wars tales under Disney's ownership. Both other Star Wars Story movies, Rogue One and Han Solo, take place in that time frame, as does the animated series Star Wars Rebels and several novels and comic books.
So under the assumption that's the story we're going to get, we thought we'd take a look at what a stand-alone film would really need to get fans excited about this untold part of Kenobi's Jedi journey.
Obi-Wan, the conflicted Jedi
Obi-Wan Kenobi believed in the Jedi Order, but he also saw its flaws. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was revealed that Obi-Wan once nearly left the Order, or at least offered to, so he could be with Duchess Satine of Mandalore (more on that in a moment). When he reached out to any remaining Jedi to warn them of the catastrophe shown at the end of Revenge of the Sith, as we saw on Star Wars Rebels, he told them to “trust in the Force.” He didn’t say to trust in their training, or the ways of the Jedi – he very specifically said trust in the Force. An Obi-Wan Kenobi rediscovering his own connections to the Force and what he believes around it is essential.
Meditations with Qui-Gon
That leads us right into his meditations, in which he talked to and continued to learn from his old master, Qui-Gon Jinn. This idea has made its way across canon thanks to Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the Ahsoka novel. In those stories, Qui-Gon was the first of that era of Jedi to learn to become part of the living Force. He communicated with Obi-Wan first on Mortis, and Yoda encouraged Kenobi to communicate with Jinn via meditation when he was heading into exile. Through these meditations, we get an outsider’s perspective on the things Obi-Wan goes through in the film, and we see how much he has yet to learn to become the supremely wise “old Ben” in A New Hope (not to mention to be able to manifest through the living Force). Plus, we’d probably get some sweet Liam Neeson narration. Bonus!
The folk hero
While Luke Skywalker’s uncle Owen may think “Old Ben Kenobi” is just a wizard who’s a “crazy old man,” the Legends Kenobi novel explored a character who becomes a bit of a folk hero. That just seems perfect for a film, despite that book not being canon, or at least the general idea. Look, Obi-Wan is supremely dedicated to watching over Luke, no question. But he’s also a person who is practically addicted to saving the day. His urge to help others and do good is much greater than his urge to hide – yes, he knows he needs to do the latter, but ultimately he’ll want to do the former. Besides, this thing’s gotta have some action, right?
A HINT of romance
Going back to The Clone Wars, we got a tease of the love – genuine, true, romantic love – between Obi-Wan and Satine. While she would be long-since dead at this point, it shows that Obi-Wan understands that desire to love that Anakin held so dear. With the Jedi Order gone for all intents and purposes, it makes sense that Obi-Wan’s naturally flirtatious nature (you know you enjoyed his banter with Asajj Ventress!) could lead to at least a hint of real romance.
And of course, if some fan theories about Rey being a Kenobi are true, then, well, he’d need more than just a hint.
Yes, they would need to tread very carefully here. I didn’t know how much I wanted just the hint of a young Luke Skywalker, pre-A New Hope until the little epilogue to the Star Wars Rebels episode “Twin Suns.” The episode focused on bringing the Obi-Wan/Maul relationship/rivalry to a close, but taking place on Tatooine, it gave us a final glimpse of a young teenage Luke running back to the Lars homestead in the distance, with the classic theme playing at the same time. The tears, they flowed. Some kind of very careful cameo, just the tiniest of nods, would be not just necessary, but could be an incredibly special moment for Star Wars fans.