Update: It is being reported that Lucasfilm is in fact planning an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie, so let’s take another look at some of his best stories from the books, comics, and TV shows which the upcoming film could take its inspiration from…
Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi. The Myth. The Legend. When we first met the character in Star Wars: A New Hope, he was the crazy old wizard who lived on Tatooine and watched over Luke Skywalker. He was grizzled and, like most things on the desert planet, he was covered in a fine layer of dust. His robes looked well-worn and raggedy, his small dwelling was sparse — he led a seemingly simple life, from a certain point of view.
No canonical Star Wars stories cover the whole of Obi-Wan’s time on the planet furthest from the bright center of the universe. Star Wars Rebels is going to give us a peek soon, but overall, we don’t know if Ben spent his days whittling bantha figures (no, I don’t know where he’d get the wood for such a hobby) or tussling with Tusken Raiders. He spent 19 years playing guardian angel/Jedi to the little Skywalker. It’s not insignificant. That period of his life is just one aspect suited for turning into a standalone film.
Think about the adventures Obi-Wan must have had during the Clone Wars, too. We saw him side-by-side with Anakin Skywalker in many episodes of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but books set in the Expanded Universe, now known as Legends, broadened the picture and put the spotlight squarely on Obi-Wan. Though not as strong with the Force as Anakin, he was more than capable of handling himself in dangerous situations and he was wise beyond his years. (There’s also the fan speculation that he’s possibly related to Rey in the new movies, but we’ll save that theory for a different time…)
Obi-Wan has played an important part in the Star Wars universe, and spin-off films starring him could take inspiration from a few existing stories.
Let’s begin with Obi-Wan’s years in the desert. Though I’d be perfectly okay with seeing a montage of his day-to-day activities a la “When Will My Life Begin” in Disney’s Tangled (can’t you just picture Obi-Wan sweeping the floor of his hut and talking to a tiny animal companion?!), I’d be just as content to see an adaptation of Kenobi. The 2013 novel by John Jackson Miller takes a small period of time during Obi-Wan’s Tatooine residence and spins it into a compelling adventure. This book will make you believe having an entire Obi-Wan trilogy set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope is not only possible but something you want to watch sooner than yesterday.
When we meet him in Kenobi, Obi-Wan’s doing his best to hide. He’s carrying around guilt heavier than a rancor because he believes he killed Anakin. His guilt leads him to being unable to stop himself from interfering when some ornery settlers cause trouble for the little town of Pika Oasis and for some nearby Tusken Raiders. The plot showcases Obi-Wan in peak hero mode as he uncovers secrets and charms the owner of the local supply shop, Anileen. And important note: he has a pet eopie named Rooh.
And an aspect of the tale I especially want to see conveyed on the screen, preferably by Ewan McGregor, is the weight of his burden. Obi-Wan does his best to remain enigmatic and shut off from others, and the loneliness pushes down on him. This is a man who went from spending most days surrounded by Jedi in the temple or by clones or civilians while he was on missions off world. Jedi training undoubtedly means Obi-Wan can meditate some of his troubles away, but hey, he’s only human.
Now, let’s flip back the clock to a more civilized age — a civilized age of war. The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes was published in 2004 and showcased Obi-Wan doing diplomatic work, engaging in some hijinks, and getting tangled up in some lightsaber battles. He goes to Ord Cestus, a planet where the manufacturing of Jedi-killing droids is taking place. Guys, these droids have a little bit of Force ability. That’s reason enough to turn this story into a film. Anyway, Obi-Wan is tasked with working with the Cestians to make sure Separatists don’t get their hands on the deadly droids.
Though this is a book heavy on the Obi-Wan, he’s part of a team-up. He’s joined by Kit Fisto on the mission to Ord Cestus, and they work together beautifully. We don’t get enough of the cheerful Nautolan, and it’s a delight to see how his personality plays off Obi-Wan’s. They put together an intricate plan and work in different areas. The tactics they take lead to some theatrics, an ARC trooper calling himself Jangotat (I can’t make this up), and an encounter with Asajj Ventress.
Not all missions could be turned into entire movies, but the trip to Ord Cestus could definitely make the cut.
Obi-Wan did take Luke under his wing in A New Hope, but he also did his fair amount of keeping secrets and being sassy. Karen Miller’s The Clone Wars: Wild Space from 2008 explores the less than friendly side of Obi-Wan. I like seeing another, less charming facet of the character in this particular era. The story starts before the end of Attack of the Clones and carries on after the film. Obi-Wan goes searching for a Sith Holocron in Wild Space along with Bail Organa.
There is a little of a team-up aspect with Organa, for sure, but the story is carried on Obi-Wan’s shoulders. We see how others in the novel react to Obi-Wan. They see him as uptight and won’t be nominating him for the title of Friendliest Jedi in the high school yearbook. But it also flips the table and gives us a deeper look at Obi-Wan. He’s carrying stress from the first battle of the Clone Wars at Geonosis, but he has to put on a brave face publicly. He doesn’t really want to be in the spotlight but doesn’t have a choice. He’s torn.
While he’s processing all this baggage, he and Organa have to escape trap after trap to get to the Sith Holocron. Their destination isn’t rigged as heavily as, say, the Capitol of Panem in the final Hunger Games book, but there is a heavy element of doom and danger that would make for a film with dynamic and fast-paced action elements paired with some Obi-Wan navel gazing.
As I mentioned, no canonical sources have covered the entire period of Obi-Wan’s self-imposed exile, but Marvel Comics has dipped their toes into the water. The ongoing Star Wars comic has featured a few issues titled “From the Journals of Old Ben Kenobi.” The tome was left for Luke by Ben in case of the latter’s untimely death. Which, as we know, came to pass not longer after he officially met Luke.
The young Skywalker has discovered the notes, and each issue documents a piece of Ben’s history on Tatooine. It’s less about teaching Luke valuable life lessons and more about explaining what Ben did and who he interacted with (cough, Uncle Owen, cough). I think these short stories could be stitched together into an overreaching arc, or a movie could take inspiration from a single issue, like Obi-Wan’s encounter with the Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan.
Are there any Obi-Wan stories from Legends or the current canon you’d like to see turned into a standalone movie? Tell us in the comments.
Amy Ratcliffe is a writer for IGN. She likes Star Wars a little. You can follow her on on Twitter at @amy_geek.