One of the few slightly positive things that our Star Wars fan community here at Last Movie Outpost had to say about Obi-Wan Kenobi was that it might have worked as a two-hour movie. Padded out to six parts as a limited series it felt full of distraction and filler and gave poor characters too much screen time.
A couple of re-writes and a tighter focus from being a movie and it may not has suffered so much.
Of course, this comes as no surprise as we know there was originally supposed to be an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie as part of the Star Wars anthology series of films. Then The Last Jedi happened and fans turned away from the series, voting with their wallets. They stayed away from the prequel nobody asked for – Solo: A Star Wars Story – and Lucasfilm panicked.
Instead of asking themselves if they had a quality problem, they tied themselves in knots to create excuses that didn’t force them to admit they were pushing shite product. As a result, Star Wars has largely become a television property that lurks on Disney+. Way to go Lucasfilm! One of the greatest cinematic properties in history reduced to a streaming product, and nobody has lost their jobs over it?
In the aftermath of the fallout from Solo flopping, a number of projects were unceremoniously trashed. One of those was the proposed Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. Now, the theory that the whole limited series could have, and maybe should have, been a movie is given credence by some comments from writer Stuart Beattie.
The Collateral writer was one of the writing team on the planned movie before it was cancelled. It turns out that he scored a writing credit on the first three episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi as they re-used so much of his work, despite him not actually being involved in the series. In an interview with The Direct he said:
“Joby [Harold, showrunner for ‘Obi-Wan’] came on and took my scripts and turned it from two hours into six. So, I did not work with them at all, I just got credit for the episodes because it was all my stuff.”
Beattie then expanded further and dropped a bombshell. His cancelled movie was just the first in a planned trilogy of Obi-Wan Kenobi movies:
“When I pitched my Obi-Wan story to Lucasfilm, I said, ‘There are actually three stories here. Because there are three different evolutions that the character has to make in order to go from Obi-Wan to Ben’.
The first one was the first movie, which was the show, which was, ‘Surrender to the will of the Force. Transport your will, surrender your will. Leave the kid alone.’
So then, the second [movie] was thinking about where Kenobi ends up. And one of the most powerful and probably the most powerful moment in all of Obi-Wan’s story is that moment where he sacrifices himself in ‘A New Hope.’ Great moment, you know, makes you cry.
But, if you stop and think about it, it’s a pretty sudden thing, to just kind of go be fighting a guy, to see Luke and go, ‘I’m gonna die.’ You know, that to me, that required forethought. That required pre-acceptance that this was going to happen.”
So this would link into Obi-Wan learning to commune through the force with Qui-Gon, the ability to project and become a force ghost. Through this he was to learn that it was his destiny to sacrifice himself:
“He’s recognizing he’s been on this journey already, and he’s waiting for this moment, and that’s how he’s able to make it so easily. To do this [sacrifice], and die. So that to me was the second evolution, the second film, the second story. So for me, if I have anything to do with the second season of ‘Obi-Wan,’ that’s the character evolution that I would take him on. That, to me, is really interesting. And like I said, universal.”
Despite Obi-Wan Kenobi being a limited series and planned as a one-off event, talk is now turning to continuing the story and we know the closing events of the show touched on some of the events Beattie refers to.
The series has smashed viewing figures so of course talk of a sequel show is happening. However, it took a critical mauling from long-time fans for poor characters, weak writing, comical action scenes and riding roughshod over established canon.
Star Wars now has just become a futile exercise in hoping for the best, but knowing deep down it’s going to be another disappointment. No doubt people will still turn out for a second series.