As reported in The Hollywood Reporter, a standalone Obi-Wan film is in early development at Lucasfilm. Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) is currently in talks to direct the film.
To put it bluntly, I was ecstatic when I heard this news. Obi-Wan is my favorite character in the Star Wars universe and I have been waiting for them to announce a standalone film ever since Disney discussed the possibility of making spin-off films. A large part of why I like Obi-Wan so much is because of Ewan McGregor’s performance in the prequels. While there hasn’t been any confirmation that the Trainspotting actor will return, I can’t see Lucasfilm going forward without him! It absolutely astounds me that some people out there would even (blasphemously) consider replacing McGregor! One article argues that McGregor’s presence in the film will serve as a reminder for how “bad” the prequels were.
Um… No. You want to go home and rethink your life.
Over the years, McGregor has repeatedly and enthusiastically stated that he would be happy to reprise his role as Obi-Wan and often spoke specifically about setting the film between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. When you have an actor who is still passionate about the character and wants to return, why would Lucasfilm not cast him?
I know there is criticism about the new Star Wars films not branching out beyond the Skywalker era, and understandably so. I personally was never a fan of them making a Han Solo spin-off (however, with Donald Glover and Ron Howard on board, my excitement for it has grown). I’ll show up opening night for the Han Solo film, no doubt, but it would be nice to see Lucasfilm/Disney explore new stories with new characters (I would love to see films set in the Tales of the Jedi era).
Having said that, I believe an exception should be made for an Obi-Wan standalone movie. There is so much potential for this film (which, who knows, could even turn into a trilogy) and it could connect deeper to the new Saga films. If you’re among those who are on the fence about seeing an Obi-Wan movie, consider some of my reasons for wanting this:
1. Ewan McGregor returning as Kenobi
This one is obvious. As I mentioned earlier, McGregor’s performance as Obi-Wan stands out as one of the strengths in the prequels — something that prequel haters admit themselves. McGregor remarkably captured the spirit of Alec Guinness’ original performance while also making the character his own. One could even make the argument, without downplaying Guinness’ performance, that Obi-Wan’s popularity is mostly due to McGregor.
2. The film will be character-driven
Imagine a lower-budget, smaller scale, and character-centered Star Wars film. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, we see glimpses of a broken Kenobi. He not only watched his fellow Jedi knights perish, but also saw his apprentice – the man he considered “brother” – become a Sith Lord.
There are several layers to unpack here. First, after Qui-Gon Jinn was murdered by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan promised to teach Anakin the ways of the Jedi. Although Qui-Gon expressed he was confident in Obi-Wan’s training being complete, one could argue that Obi-Wan was not ready nor competent to train Anakin. After all, Qui-Gon was adamant about training Anakin and knew he couldn’t as long as Obi-Wan was still his apprentice. To Obi-Wan, he feels like he has failed both Anakin and Qui-Gon. Furthermore, as he watches the galaxy fall under the oppressive rule of the Empire, he feels responsible for all of the hell his former apprentice has unleashed.
A standalone film would allow the opportunity to explore Kenobi’s guilt, trauma, inner turmoil, and struggles with self-doubt. At this point, he is a character who is haunted by the past, present, and future. Perhaps he refuses to use the Force, or, similar to Ulic Qel-Droma in the Redemption comic book, he cannot use the Force (though not for the same reasons as Qel-Droma, of course).
McGregor’s talents as an actor coupled with Daldry’s character-focused direction are an excellent combination for a truly unique and powerful film.
3. The film will be about Ben Kenobi, not Obi-Wan
But wait, you might say, aren’t they the same person? Of course, but there is significance in the fact that Ben says he hasn’t been called “Obi-Wan” in a long time. Sure, he is hiding from the Empire, but I think there’s some meaningful symbolism here, too. Again, this relates to the character-driven approach that this film will most likely adopt. How does Obi-Wan become Ben? How is Ben different?
We have not really seen the character of Obi-Wan explored in-depth, nor have we seen much of this duality in the character. By centering on Ben Kenobi, we will essentially see a different character, or at least a side of the character we haven’t seen before (much like Logan showed us a different side of Wolverine).
From an actor’s standpoint, this is an exciting opportunity for McGregor to deliver a standout (and potentially Oscar-worthy) performance we have yet to see in a Star Wars film.
4. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse will return as Owen and Beru, respectively
I’m really surprised that movie news sites/blogs aren’t talking about this enough. Think about it, did anyone know who Joel Edgerton was when Attack of the Clones came out? Over the years, movie fans and moviegoers have become more familiar with seeing Edgerton on screen, and his growing popularity works to the film’s advantage. While Bonnie Piesse’s resume isn’t like Edgerton’s, my hope is that the film will develop her character more.
Furthermore, Edgerton and Piesse returning as Owen and Beru respectively will give us a chance to see what their relationship with Obi-Wan was like. Why is Owen so dismissive towards Obi-Wan in A New Hope? Why did Owen want to keep Obi-Wan away from Luke? What was Beru’s stance on all of this? Expect to see this explored in the film!
5. Obi-Wan may be Rey’s grandfather
One theory that has been out there for a long time is that Rey is a descendant of Obi-Wan. I would take it further and argue that Rey is both a Kenobi and a Skywalker. If either of these theories are correct, the standalone movie could show Kenobi finding love again. Given that Lucasfilm was willing to bring a Clone Wars character, Saw Gerrera, onto the big screen, could we see flashbacks of Satine Kryze?
Is it possible that Obi-Wan doesn’t know he has a child by the end of the film? This would explain why Obi-Wan or Yoda didn’t seek out his child during the original trilogy.
Also, if Obi-Wan is Rey’s grandfather, it would explain why he is speaking to Rey in her Force vision.
6. New characters
A standalone Obi-Wan movie doesn’t mean it won’t include new characters. Whether the film stays on Tatooine or goes off-world, there’s potential for Obi-Want to meet new allies and encounter new enemies. I would also hope that Lucasfilm remains consistent in casting people of color in significant roles. In particular, it would be great to see more women of color lead characters in the Star Wars universe (Rose seems like a good start in The Last Jedi).
Some shameless self-promotion here, but last year I mashed up a Mad Max-style Obi-Wan fan trailer that featured Gina Torres as a supporting lead. You can watch it by clicking here!
7. More Darth Vader and… the return of Hayden Christensen?
Obviously, Darth Vader is still alive during this time. It could be tricky to include Vader because of the dialogue in A New Hope where he tells Obi-Wan, “When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.” Still, it’s possible we could see Vader searching for Kenobi. Also, what if Vader is feeling a “pull to the light” similar to Kylo Ren? I get that people enjoyed seeing Vader ruthless in Rogue One, but we know he is much more complex than that.
I know this is unpopular for some Star Wars fans, but I really hope we get to see Hayden Christensen return as Darth Vader. He received a standing ovation at Star Wars celebration this year and I think it would be amazing if his performance in an Obi-Wan film, no matter how small, surprises people in a good way. Let’s also not forget that we could see Obi-Wan and Anakin again in a short flashback scene, preferably one that would take place during the Clone Wars.
8. Liam Neeson, Ian McDiarmid, and Jimmy Smits could return
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda tells Obi-Wan he will teach him how to commune with Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force ghost. A lot of people who didn’t enjoy the prequels tend to say Ewan McGregor was the “only good part.” However, I couldn’t disagree more, and I’m not just saying this because I’m a fan of the prequels. Liam Neeson’s carefully calculated and layered performance as Qui-Gon Jinn is much overlooked in my opinion.
One aspect of Qui-Gon that I find fascinating is how he questions authority, particularly the dogmatic order of the Jedi (which is why he’s not on the council). What Qui-Gon taught Obi-Wan was very different than how Yoda trains Jedi. Since Obi-Wan never completed his training, it would be interesting to see Qui-Gon guide him through his current struggles.
Speaking of positives from the prequels, Jimmy Smits and Ian McDiarmid would also have opportunities to come back as Bail Organa and Emperor Palpatine, respectively (it was great seeing Bail in Rogue One). We didn’t need to see Palpatine in Rogue One, but I think it makes more sense to bring him back for the Obi-Wan film. Palpatine is Anakin’s Sith master and he would be threatened at the thought of Anakin’s Jedi master still being alive.
So, there you have it! Those are my 8 reasons why we need an Obi-Wan standalone film. I’m sure I have more reasons, but these are the ones that come to mind. Again, I think this movie has incredible potential to not only delve deeper into a character we know and love, but also give us a truly unique Star Wars film.