There’s a lot to choose from in the Star Wars universe (one might even say the market has become “saturated”); but if you look carefully enough, you might just find something worth investing your time in. Such is the case with Obi-Wan Kenobi, a dream come true for fans of the series who have always wondered about the title characters’ most secluded years on Tatoonie.
Ewan McGregor returns nearly two decades later since last portraying the role of Kenobi in Episodes I-III, and it’s as if he never left. Long story short, he is thrust into helping a young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) after she is captured, then escapes, from the Galactic Empire. This forces him into uses his long-suppressed Jedi powers while fighting off new foes from the Empire like Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram), and ultimately coming face-to-face with his former apprentice Anakin Skywalker for the first time since their battle in Episode III that transformed him into Darth Vadar (Hayden Christensen also returns in the role, with the legendary James Earl Jones voicing the character once again as well).
There’s a few other appearances that fans should also enjoy, such as the return of Jimmy Smits to the franchise, and even a small role from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. But chances are if none of what I just mentioned made any sense to you, then this show is most likely not going to be your cup of tea. But if these characters have been embedded in your life since birth as they have been for myself, you’re likely to eat it up, too.
Long before the countless spin-offs, Sci Fi conventions, and overly complex storylines, Star Wars was simply just another rite of passage for an average kid growing up in the ’80s such as myself. Back then, we didn’t see it as the crowning achievement of filmmaking that it has since come to be known as today; we just thought it was really…cool.
I was not around yet when George Lucas’ landmark film was originally released to theaters on May 25, 1977, but I was caught up with a quickness, having an older brother and cousins who were already savvy to the series before I was. Original action figures from the toyline were already firmly in place in my household, and each and every time any of the films were shown on TV, it became an event for everyone.
The original film/space opera, which has retroactively come to be known as Episode IV: A NewHope in many circles, introduced the world to some of pop cultures most iconic figures; Mark Hamill as the everyday hero Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as the lovely Princess Leia, and Harrison Ford as badass smuggler Han Solo. Then of course there were the unforgettable, non-human characters like droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the evil Darth Vadar (voiced by James Earl Jones).
Star Wars became the highest grossest film ever at the time, earning over $775 million at the box office, and clinging to that title until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial eventually surpassed it a few years later in 1982. The film’s success spawned two initial sequels, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back (largely viewed by many as superior to the original) and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, each equally essential viewing for kids from my era.
Even without anymore films being released throughout the rest of the decade, various action figures and other media sources kept the franchise alive throughout the ’80s; two made-for-TV spin-off films based off the Ewoks were released in 1984 and 1985, respectively, and an animated series based off them, as well as StarWars: Droids, also kept the material alive from 1985-86.
Then of course the late ’90s brought on the remastered versions of the first three films, which found them with newly added footage thanks to George Lucas (I still despise these versions to this day), and the even lesser-received prequel trilogy, beginning with Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999 (my least favorite entry of all the Star Wars films, yet ironically the first one of the series I ever saw on the “big screen”), which in turn spawned several animated shows, as well as the theatrically-released The Clone Wars in 2008.
In 2012, Lucas relinquished his ownership and sold the rights to Disney, who revived the franchise with yet another sequel trilogy, starting with 2015’s The Force Awakens. Since then there’s been numerous spin-off films in the form of 2016’s Rogue One and 2018’s Solo, as well as a host of new shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and the upcoming Obi-WanKenobi.
It’s been forty five years now since one man’s imagination took us to a galaxy far, far away, and while the material that has come since may not be quite on par with the original film and trilogy, I still watch with anticipation each and every time something new comes along in the name of Star Wars. I can’t imagine having had to endure a childhood without something as whimsical, and feel genuine pity for those who have missed out. May the force be with you, always.