Over the weekend was Disney’s D23 Expo, which is basically Disney Comic Con but without the cosplayers and spending extortionate amounts of money on exclusive tat. Among the many announcements was news that Disney+ would soon be home to the long-awaited return of Obi Wan Kenobi – and Ewan McGregor was coming back to play him. It’s not the movie fans have been clamouring for, and was reportedly cancelled after Disney hubris messed up Solo’s box office prospects, but it’s made a lot of people excited.
The only issue here is that the best story a stand-alone Obi Wan series could focus on has already been told during a single episode of Star Wars Rebels.
This is an argument I’ve made before, a couple of years ago back when it was first reported Lucasfilm had greenlit the Obi Wan movie. This was before Solo and The Last Jedi, two films that have their own unique brand of controversy.
Controversy that hasn’t gone unnoticed since Disney announced it was going to cool off on releasing so many Star Wars films in the aftermath of Solo’s shitty box office take. Even though that was just two years ago, Star Wars has changed a lot. My point that Lucasfilm already wasted the best possible Obi Wan plot has not.
Back in 2017 DisneyXD broadcast the episode ‘Twin Suns’, which see Ezra Bridger and Darth Maul head to Tatooine in search of Obi Wan Kenobi. Ezra is adamant to persuade Obi Wan to join the rebel cause, while Darth Maul is seeking revenge for the many defeats he suffered at Kenobi’s hands.
Eventually this leads to Kenobi politely refusing Ezra’s request, and one final showdown that leads to Maul’s death (for real this time).
As you can see in the video above it was a somewhat anti-climactic fight. Maul supposedly used all the same moves he’d been using in the past (the ones that killed Qui Gon Jin) while Obi Wan barley makes three moves to inflict some lethal wounds. There was no fancy epic lightsaber battle akin to that in the films, and Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni has adamantly defended the sequence after it was broadcast.
Two years ago Star Wars‘ relationship with expanded universe hadn’t really been well defined. The TV series existed, and there had been some evidence that the Lucasfilm’s feature film division wasn’t completely ignoring the TV side of things (like Marvel Studios has done) nothing had been set in stone.
The closest we got was the appearance of Saw Gerrera, a character who first appeared in Clone Wars, in Rogue One – albeit in very different circumstances and with enough extra context that you didn’t need to have seen his single prior appearance. Then Solo happened.
The climax of Solo features Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra contacting the head of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate – who turns out to be none other than Darth Maul. Seriously, they made him fire up his lightsaber just in case anyone didn’t fully understand who he was.
TV fans had known for years that Maul had survived his initial encounter with Obi Wan on Naboo back in The Phantom Menace, eventually furnishing himself with metal legs then fighting in the Clone Wars and beyond. But film fans did not, and that was the first proper time Star Wars had pulled something like this – and without explaining anything to the audience.
If you wanted to understand why Maul was there, your only option was to go and find out for yourself on Google. In fact people did just that, causing a spike in searches for Maul on the film’s opening night. Before long primers started popping up on the net explaining Darth Maul’s story so that casual fans wouldn’t need to watch all six seasons of Clone Wars to figure it out.
So what’s my point here? Well unlike the MCU which seemed content with ignoring or contradicting its television counterparts (that were technically produced by another company), Maul’s appearance proved Lucasfilm took its TV canon just as seriously as the film canon.
It wasn’t going to retcon or ignore events just because they weren’t convenient (which I like to call the George Lucas method), and by that same logic it means The Maul/Kenobi fight sequence from Rebels isn’t going anywhere. It’s not likely to be changed, or extended, or wiped from canon because of the Obi Wan Disney+ show.
And that’s kind of a problem for the show itself, because a proper live action showdown between Old Man Kenobi and Old Man Maul could have been fantastic. While we have yet to see what will happens with Maul and Kenobi during the Siege of Mandalore at the climax of the Clone Wars, we knew they’d bother survived long into the era of the Empire thanks to rebels.
Seeing them reunited for one last time should have been an event for the ages, and while what we got was certainly no Game of Thrones season 8, it wasn’t really what people had hoped for.
Obi Wan, whether it was made for the big or small screen, was the perfect place for it but now that’s not going to happen. Even though some parts of the internet have insisted Obi Wan should take full advantage of Solo‘s twist ending.
But hey, at least this means Obi Wan‘s writers will have to think up something new and original if they want the series to be well received. As for Darth Maul and his surprise appearance, well there’s always chance for him to get his own spin-off series too. Because we know Solo isn’t going to get a sequel. Like, ever.