I loved the new Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Trying to fill in gaps between two established trilogies is a tall order and they do it really well. But it raises some interesting questions about when Star Wars is willing to take risks and how much they listen to fans.
Spoiler alert: I’m going to spill it all, so you’ve been warned.
First, I think the series is great. It’s wonderful to see Ewan McGregor back as Kenobi. They really play into the guilt and torment the character has gone through after killing his former padawan (so he thought). Reva’s character is driven and dark and I love where they go with it (following what she does next would make a fantastic spin-off series). But then the series did something I totally didn’t expect.
So arguably one of the worst mistakes Star Wars ever made was launching the prequels around a 10-year-old. For all the horribleness of Jar-Jar Binks, Anakin Skywalker as a little boy is just painful to watch. I get why it’s necessary, but it’s just bad. Let’s never do that again.
So what do they do with Kenobi? Focus on a 10-year-old Leia.
It took some serious guts to make that pitch. And they pull it off amazingly. The character is written really well and the acting is great. She’s a little Princess Leia and I love it.
I’m so surprised they could pull that off.
Especially when Star Wars seems to learn all the wrong lessons. Rise of Skywalker is so bad because they listened to the dumb fan boys who hated The Last Jedi and they killed all the good ideas. They consider Solo a flop (I think it’s fun), and instead of blaming it on a challenging story or the difficulty of telling an origin story, they blame it on recasting—when Alden Ehrenreich did pretty good as a young Han Solo and Donald Glover absolutely nails Lando Calrissian. To the point that they vowed to never do it again. Wrong lesson.
A potential season two of Kenobi apparently depends on fan reaction (cuz, duh), but that means Star Wars is running the risk of listening to fans who have proven they don’t know what they’re talking about. The same online jerks who didn’t like Rose and got her character sidelined in Rise of Skywalker are complaining about Reva (um, racist much?) and whining about Little Leia.
Fan service is fun and certainly Star Wars has to play to its fans, but take some bold risks. They did with Kenobi and it works.
I never would have expected a rematch between Obi-Wan and Anakin could work, but seeing it brought all the feels. They gave us lines that fit with the originals and even explanations about force ghosts. As much as I dislike the prequels, Star Wars is making those storylines work with new streaming material like season seven of Clone Wars and Kenobi.