After The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Disney and Lucasfilm are in talks with director Stephen Daldry to helm an Obi-Wan Kenobi film, the speculation began. The project does not have a script or a star attached yet, and the negotiations with Daldry “are in the earliest stages,” so we honestly have no idea what’s in store at this point…which means we’re going to lean the hell into this speculation, everybody!
Now, pretty much everyone agrees that Lucasfilm and Disney have three main options for this movie:
- Young, pre-Jedi Obi-Wan
- Sad, middle-aged Obi-Wan in the span between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope
- Force Ghost Obi-Wan during the new trilogy
Given that, let’s examine the options.
Young Obi-Wan (Pre-Phantom Menace)
As Nerdist‘s Jessica Chobot observed, this isn’t the studio’s best bet. “We’ve already seen the Jedi Knight origin story from Anakin’s perspective,” she said, “and it might have been the dullest entry in the entire series…You probably want to set these spin-offs during the actual ‘star wars,’ not during all the trade negotiations and Senate hearings that led up to those wars.”
I also don’t think anyone’s really clamoring for a young Obi-Wan movie, especially given the fandom’s hope for Ewan McGregor to get a shot at a decent script, but there’s no denying that it would give Lucasfilm and Disney a familiar, easy, three-act structure and heroic arc. Hollywood loves an origin story.
However, Lucasfilm and Disney also have the option to hedge much closer to The Phantom Menace material, pulling us into some of the diplomatic and political machinations from the prequels. And the fact that they’ve reached out to Daldry as a potential director does suggest some talkier material. Daldry got his start in theater, the talkiest of visual mediums, winning two Olivier Awards and a Tony. He then received Oscar nominations for The Hours, a talky drama; The Reader, a talky drama; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a talky drama. (Also Billy Elliot, a dancy drama.) He received an Emmy nomination for The Crown, another talky drama.
Looking at that career, it seems like he’s the sort of director you’d contact for a Senate-hearings-heavy piece from just before The Phantom Menace. But I would hope, after the prequels’ rather disastrous reception, that Lucasfilm won’t go back down that road.
Middle-Aged Obi Wan (Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope)
Most sites seem to agree that this nineteen-year time period is the most likely setting for Obi-Wan’s solo movie. First off, it allows them to use Ewan McGregor. And as Wired‘s Matt Kamen points out, this time period has already proven the richest well to mine for the comics and novels, so why not for a film? “Although this [Expanded Universe material] has all been deemed no longer in continuity,” he wrote, “there are lost riches in those stories. Disney has also proven it’s not above reclaiming Expanded Universe characters and concepts that could still work.”
The question, then, is which stories Disney and Lucasfilm might adapt. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Graeme McMillan believes “there’s a high probability that the stand-alone Obi-Wan Kenobi movie currently in development will feature the Jedi Knight taking on Tusken Raiders.”
Honestly, the dusty, vigilante justice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in exile basically sounds like Logan on Tatooine, which I would be 100% here for. Daldry also really knows how to use characters’ silence to create a moment, so he’d make excellent use of the barren, wind-wracked landscape and the nighttime quiet of a deeply underdeveloped planet.
Wired, on the other hand, is rooting for another expanded universe story from this time period: Obi-Wan’s adventures with Ferus Olin. This story would have a much more action-adventure, master-apprentice feel to it, as the two try to outwit the growing fascist Empire and help others to resist. (Wow, this story also sounds timely.)
Either of these seems like a bankable option for Disney and Lucasfilm, and I’m sure there are dozens more alternatives as well.
Galaxy-Haunting Ghost Obi-Wan (During New Trilogy)
As Nerdist’s Chobot pointed out, this is pretty seriously unlikely. “We already heard [Obi-Wan’s] voice in Rey’s Force Vision from The Force Awakens,” she observed, “so we know he’s probably still out there, somewhere, in shiny blue translucent form. But somehow we doubt Disney is going to be keen on dumping $200 million into a movie where the hero is a dead dude who just goes around telling other people to use the Force.”
But, hold on just a second. While I touted Daldry’s talk-heavy movies above, it is also true that he’s got a great history with musicals. Directing Billy Elliot on both stage and screen, and the film adaptation of Wicked for 2019, Daldry clearly knows his way around a song-and-dance number. Obi-Wan ghost musical, anyone?
(Okay, in all seriousness, we’re getting the nineteen-year-gap story.)
What are you hoping for from the Obi-Wan movie, readers?
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