Yesterday word got out that LucasFilm is talking to director Stephen Daldry about making an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie for their “Star Wars Story” spin-off line. This should be an automatic YES and a fist pump, but I had only the following reaction: If it does not star Ewan McGregor, I do not care. I questioned myself following this knee-jerk reaction, surfing IMDB to see who else I would be interested in seeing portray Obi-Wan. Answer: No one. I really, truly, only care about an Obi-Wan movie if it involves Ewan McGregor. As of right now, there’s no word on if he’ll be called upon to revisit the role. Until there is, don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.
I love Star Wars, so why is my love so conditional? Undoubtedly, the Han Solo fiasco had some impact. For a minute, it seemed like LucasFilm, intending to make a series of stand-alone, one-off movies, could really do the “let interesting filmmakers make interesting films” thing, because they didn’t need to lock directors into multi-year deals and pre-determined creative visions to make franchises. But they knee-capped Gareth Edwards on Rogue One, and while the ending totally saves it, in hindsight, that’s the first clue they’re not going to do the “interesting films” thing. Following that is the removal of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from Han Solo, and now my interest is very low. Maybe The Last Jedi can revive it, but I’m already trying to talk myself around some stuff I find very uninteresting (see also: Rose Tico, Rey’s parents).
Maybe the Star Wars universe just isn’t that expansive. Maybe it’s time that we admit that. They’re giving us all the obvious stuff—young Han Solo, Obi-Wan, probably Boba Fett eventually—because that’s all there is. Or, it’s all they’re willing to do. There is always the option of going back in time and telling stories about the Old Republic, way before Skywalkers were around. But a real question facing LucasFilm and the Star Wars expansion pack is: What if the galaxy is actually small? What if you don’t have all that much room to color in the margins?
The reason people want an Obi-Wan movie isn’t the story, it’s because Ewan McGregor was GREAT in the role in a series of super sh*tty movies, and we’d like to see him get another chance, to be in something better, something more worthy of his performance. If he gets that opportunity, I will cross my fingers and hope that THIS TIME it works out better for him, because McGregor has, even as the prequels are widely derided, always been proud to be involved with Star Wars, and his affection for the character is clear. He seems to want a do-over, too.
But to put it in Duana terms, spin-off films are a “want vs. need” proposition. Fans might want something stupid, like a Boba Fett movie, and it’s on the studios and producers to see past that and give us what we need. The problem for Star Wars is, I don’t know what we need. The original trilogy is pretty self-contained. And the prequels, as bad as they are, are also self-contained. The Han Solo movie was interesting to see what Lord & Miller would make of it, but without them, no, we don’t need to know how Han Solo got his name (which is apparently addressed in the movie). And an Obi-Wan movie is also narratively challenged because we know what Obi-Wan was doing between trilogies—watching a brat grow up in the desert. They’ll invent something for him to do, sure. But is it what we want, or what we need?