In the first Star Wars movie, released in 1977, Luke Skywalker cleaned up his newly acquired droid R2D2. In the process, he accidentally triggered a secret message – sent by Princess Leia aboard the ship Tantive IV. Message that launches the second act of the film and – in many ways – the Star Wars franchise as an enterprise:
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”
This is a classic line. Probably the most defining line in a series full of them. But in 2022, on May 4 of all days, this is a line that strikes differently.
In May 2022, weeks before the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi’scan be I delivery of this line. Me: A bruised and battered Star Wars fan who watches in horror as Disney starts rocking after rocking in the canon.
It could be me in the form of a hologram: “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”
And from a strange meta perspective it can bemyself. After a mixed trilogy with a big budget and Haunted by mediocre shows like The Book of Bob Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like a huge gamble for Disney. A “do or die” moment for a series that is stagnant. Last hope.
They turned the pages, they were not …
Make no mistake, Star Wars, at least for the last decade, has been pretty nasty. During this period, Star Wars took me on a wild journey that began with anger, then acceptance, but ended in complete indifference.
I just don’t care about Star Wars anymore and I don’t think I’m alone. I have not invested in her universe, her characters or her success. Star Wars – this legendary tale that takes place a long time ago in a distant, distant galaxy – has lost its mystique.
It stings harder because Disney originally got it right. After a well-made (albeit safe) film in honor of The Force Awakens, Star Wars broke the Last Jedi model; a film that challenges not only assumptions about Jedi knowledge and other nonsense, but also notions of nostalgia and the fandom itself. In short, it absolutely ruled.
In perhaps the best Star Wars scene ever, Yoda stands in front of a blazing fire that he himself has lit. “Sacred texts,” Luke shouted in agony.
“They turned the pages, they weren’t,” Yoda replies.
It was a movie that told us to “let the past die, kill it if you have to.” That was all Star Wars needed, and it was amazing.
Of course, everyone was angry. Disney panicked. The rise of Skywalker, a cobbled movie spreadsheet, was the end result. It looked, felt, and acted like a movie written from a toxic thread on Reddit that reconsidered and overturned every bold decision made in The Last Jedi. It was the first nail in the coffin of my own Star Wars fan, but it wouldn’t be the last.
After Skywalker Rise, we’ve seen Star Wars do little other than give in to an audience that desperately wants to enjoy nostalgia. To be clear: we must all take our share of the blame. We have become a cursed band that evaluates the quality of shows like The Mandalorian and The Book of Bob Fet based on the quality of their cameos. Did Luke Skywalker show up with a grotesque CGI? All right. No Asoka Tano or Baby Yoda in this episode? bad.
It is completely distorted.
This is a name I haven’t heard in a long time
Given the poor quality of Disney’s recent Star Wars production, it’s unreasonable to expect Obi-Wan Kenobi to signal a major change in the sea, but I keep a small, smoldering glow of hope. For several reasons.
Reason №1: The stakes are high. Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most central characters in the Star Wars universe, played by one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Of all the shows released on Disney Plus, you feel it’s important to get that right. These bets could lead to Disney playing in complete safe mode, but I hope this will lead to higher quality output.
Reason № 2: We have a generation of Star Wars fans who crave different kind of nostalgia. The latest Star Wars trilogy has spent six solid hours playing with or against the original trilogy. In 2022, we have a group of 30-year-olds who grew up with prehistory trilogy.
I am an enemy of the lure of nostalgia in almost all the media I consume, but I suspect it may be fun to return to the aesthetics of prehistory with a new set of collectively aging eyeballs. Prequel-land feels like a different Star Wars universe that is less solid and has lived. There is potential for something unique.
In this respect, Obi-Wan can also act as a kind of bridge. Not a Rogue One-style bridge – a dull film that is painfully strained to fill gaps that never needed to be plugged – but something more extensive and imaginary. Within the narrow confines of the Star Wars universe, there is room in Obi-Wan’s timeline for something different – new heroes, new enemies, new planets. There is also room to create connective tissue between trilogies that looks less intricate. Recent movies and shows have made Star Wars feel unstable and small, held together by super glue and duct tape. Maybe it’s my fault that I designed my own hopes and dreams here, but maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi can make Star Wars feel huge and unrecognizable again. I do not know. Perhaps.
I will be most disappointed if he continues to paint by numbers. Obi-Wan Kenobi could still become another Star Wars show. Stumbling from one cameo fan service to another like a decomposing zombie in search of brains. This is almost certainly the most likely outcome here, but we can dare to dream.
Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are our only hope.