Obi-Wan Kenobi seems determined to have more of his Star Wars story told, with the latest reports claiming Ewan McGregor may star in his own Obi-Wan TV show. Finally offering a clear answer to the question: what was Ben Kenobi doing all those years before the first Star Wars movie began?
Whether Ewan McGregor agrees to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in a movie or one of the new Disney+ Star Wars series, it's almost certain that his story will take place during his exile on Tatooine. That missing chapter of Obi-Wan Kenobi's life, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, is all that's left to explore. The problem? It might not seem like the most exciting story for casual Star Wars fans. But the new canon has revealed more about Kenobi's life watching over Luke Skywalker than most fans know.
The enemies he made on Tatooine as Ben Kenobi, the lives he saved in the desert wastelands, the new levels of the Force he learned to master, and how big a role he played in creating the man Luke Skywalker became. All of these stories have been suggested, and each one of them are the perfect place to start for an Obi-Wan TV show. Time to catch up on everything you've missed!
Obi-Wan Writes a Journal For Luke Skywalker
From the journals of old Ben Kenobi, "the last of his breed." While searching for answers in his quest to become a Jedi, Luke Skywalker has uncovered a journal written by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, a journal that Kenobi specifically left behind for Luke to find. The journal details Kenobi's adventures during the time he was in hiding on Tatooine. What follows is an excerpt from that journal.
For those fans going by nothing but the films, one of the biggest changes made to the Star Wars canon is the introduction of the journals of old Ben Kenobi. Their first appearance came in the pages of Marvel's Star Wars #7 (2015), the canonical comic book that has already made massive changes to the Star Wars mythology. This particular issue from Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi began with the above passage. It revealed that during his years in exile on Tatooine, Obi-Wan made sure to record his experiences and wisdom for Luke Skywalker to someday read. Which he is shown doing in the cockpit of his X-wing, explaining where a great deal of Luke's knowledge about the Jedi and the Force came from. It's an unexpected method for Kenobi to essentially 'teach' his student, and one that provided several key insights into his life. For instance...
Obi-Wan Doesn't Start as a Total Hermit
"I shouldn't have done that and I knew it. There was too much at risk. After that day... I decided it was best if I didn't go into town anymore."
The more emotional Star Wars fans may be struck with sadness at the very thought of a TV series following Obi-Wan into lonely, miserable, decades-long exile. Seeing a cheerful, loving, and above all active Jedi Knight forced to live as a hermit is a sad tale (not to mention a potentially boring one). But Obi-Wan's journals confirm that he began his time on Tatooine living like most locals: frequenting the markets as much as any inabitant of the harsh world. So it's possible that Obi-Wan--sorry, Old Ben made connections and friend at first... before he realized using his gifts risked more for the innocent than it gained, and he committed to a solitary existence.
Obi-Wan Brings an End to Shmi Skywalker's Story
He'd gone to Shmi Skywalker's grave to apologize for losing her son. He had never met her, knew her only from Anakin's stories, but Qui-Gon had made her a promise and Obi-Wan hadn't been able to keep it. As he stood there, looking at the stone, he felt an even deeper shame. Qui-Gon had left her there a slave, and Obi-Wan had done everything in his power to prevent Anakin's return.
One scene that every fan will hope to see adapted for a Kenobi series is alluded to in Ahsohka, the 2016 novel by E.K. Johnston. Obviously telling the story of the returning Clone Wars heroine Ahsoka Tano, the book makes several references to the hypothetical comments, criticisms, and advice Obi-Wan would offer in a given situation. But it also jumps from Ahsoka to show what Obi-Wan is actually up to--which is when it's revealed that among his first duties on Tatooine was to visit the grave of Shmi Skywalker. The excerpt above paints a vivid picture that would strengthen the story of the Skywalker family, from Shmi to her grandson Luke, and is begging to be shown on screen.
Obi-Wan Communes With Qui-Gon Jinn
Obi-Wan let go of Ben Kenobi's house... and broke through the wall between life and death... His senses were sharp. He could hear every sound at once, and also none of them. It took him a moment to focus on the voice he wanted most to hear... Obi-Wan had only a moment before he was wrenched back into the physical world, but it was long enough to renew his hope. "Obi-Wan," said Qui-Gon Jinn. He was sure the voice was stronger this time. "Let go."
George Lucas made sure to explain why Obi-Wan Kenobi is able to appear as a 'Force Ghost,' by including a single reference in the final scenes of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of The Sith. Yoda reveals that through years of study (and a touch of plot-necessary magic) the late Qui-Gon Jinn has survived beyond the grave. A skill that the animated series would repeat, right into The Last Jedi. But fans haven't actually gotten to see Obi-Wan exploring the Force to connect with his former master. The above passage from Ahsoka is just a tease, but it should be a key part of any Kenobi series or film. Whether it's a cameo from Liam Neeson, or the implication Qui-Gon is still guiding Obi-Wan as he becomes the most important Jedi Master in history.
Obi-Wan Wages War Against The Tusken Raiders
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, bodyguard for hire. I'd had worse jobs. Though the Clone Wars seemed so very long ago and very far away. My war had ended. Badly, as I recalled. But my fight carried on."
Not every glimpse into Obi-Wan's life is more about characterization than reminding fans what a badass he is in a fight. Survival on Tatooine means bartering for what you need, and for Obi-Wan, that means communicating with the infamous Jawas. They're as shrewd as it gets, but their size makes them vulnerable to Tusken Raider attacks. If fans want some action to go along with their drama, look no further than Star Wars #15, when Obi-Wan takes on a gang of the scavengers all by himself--and without his lightsaber. No wonder they flee in fear when he makes his original Star Wars introduction.
Obi-Wan Saves Luke's Life More Than Once
"Ever since you showed up, mine is the only house for kilometers that's never been attacked by Sand People. That was never raided by Jabba's thugs." "Sounds to me like you've been rather blessed, Owen. The Force works in mysterious ways."
The movies may suggest that Obi-Wan has merely observed Luke Skywalker as he grew from an infant to a teenager, but the Star Wars comics reveal he had a far more hands-on approach. After all, Tatooine is a harsh place for anyone, let alone two innocent moisture farmers raising a troublesome little Force-sensitive. In the pages of Star Wars #7 Obi-Wan steps in to use his Jedi Mind Trick on a band of Jabba the Hutt's 'tax collectors.' While helpful, Owen Lars eventually lets Obi-Wan know that he's aware of his interference, direct and indirect, in the above exchange (from Jason Aaron and Mike Mayhew's Star Wars #15). How could an Obi-Wan series even resist showing these never-before-seen moments?
Obi-Wan Helps Luke Become a Pilot
"I was no Master Yoda. I knew I wouldn't be around for 800 years to watch over him. At some point, Luke Skywalker was going to have to fend for himself. And something told me that when that day came... he would need to know how to fly."
The Star Wars prequels emphasize that the ability to become one of the best pilots in the galaxy is a Skywalker trait, inherited (along with his gifts in the Force) from Anakin by Luke. But for a kid born in the desert of Tatooine, becoming a gifted pilot isn't achieved without some help. Star Wars #15 delivers a heartwarming scene, as Obi-Wan watches Luke pilot his T-16 to the hoops and hollers of his friends, willing the boy to feel the Force flowing through him. Luke may not play a role in a Kenobi series, but knowing that Obi-Wan acquired the parts needed to keep the boy's T-16 in good repair--anonymously, of course--makes his guardian role even better.
Obi-Wan Becomes Tatooine's Most Wanted Man
"Jabba hired you, didn't he? Well, here I am, bounty hunter. I'm the man you're looking for. Or am I. You will leave this place at--I was really hoping that was going to work."
The former Jedi Master may have kept his lightsaber concealed when taking on a gang of Tusken Raiders, but Obi-Wan does have to use it in combat at least once. As we mentioned above, Obi-Wan used his gifts to keep the Lars family free from Jabba's intimidation (among other small acts of defiance). Over time, the strange old man living out on the edges of the Dune Sea became a problem Jabba needed to solve... by hiring a bounty hunter to find him, and kill him. Obviously the bounty hunter got more than he bargained for in Star Wars #20, but the idea that even BEN Kenobi had criminals who wanted him dead only adds to his legacy as a fearsome soldier.
Obi-Wan Defeats Darth Maul, For Good
"If you define yourself by your power to take life, a desire to dominate, to possess... then you have nothing."
This will be old news for fans of Star Wars: Rebels, the animated series that first showed Obi-Wan and Darth Maul ending their rivalry... but that doesn't make the scene any less powerful. Is it likely that the fight will be adapted into another series after since Rebels executed it perfectly? Probably not. But since many Star Wars fans likely missed the showdown in Season 3 Episode 20, titled "Twin Suns," they will want to seek it out. Kenobi never wished to avenge the death of his master, but when Darth Maul forces their fight, Obi-Wan ends him with a single blow... confirming Maul's final question that he is watching over the prophesied Chosen One.
Obi-Wan's Harshest Test: The Great Drought
"You never trained me for this, Master Qui-Gon. you never taught me how to fade away."
The early excerpts from the journals of old Ben Kenobi find him just a few years into his exile, when his life as a Jedi remains fresh in his memory. It also presents the greatest test of his heart, spirit, and duty to protect Luke unseen... thanks to the coming of 'The Great Drought.' A time when moisture is running out on Tatooine, Jabba's grasp on the weakest tightens, and people are dying every day because of it. As a Jedi who spent most of his adult life (seen through the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars) helping those in need, being forced to turn a blind eye to suffering takes a toll. The question at the heart of the above passage--how Obi-Wan Kenobi forced himself to abandon the galaxy--might be the most compelling in his entire life's story. It's told beautifully in the comics, but adapting it to the live-action canon would forge an even stronger connection between Obi-Wan's struggle and Luke Skywalker's own exile in The Last Jedi.
These are the moments, battles, and struggles that the existing Star Wars canon tells us Obi-Wan Kenobi faced between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope, but there's no reason the story can't be told. After all, these are only "excerpts" from the journal of old Ben Kenobi. They're canon for good, but they may just be the starting point for a Kenobi series or film, should it someday come to the Star Wars universe.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019