May 2022 is an important month for fans of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. The two characters will reunite in live-action for the first time since 2005 in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series premiering on May 27th.
Mike Chen’s novel Brotherhood was already released this month and explores the relationship of the two Jedi at the start of the Clone Wars. To top all of this off, this May marks the 20-year anniversary of Attack of the Clones.
Attack of the Clones does not get enough credit for all the heavy lifting it did with developing the relationship of Obi-Wan and Anakin during the prequel era. While both of them are main characters in the first prequel The Phantom Menace, they barely interact with each other, and they do not have a relationship in that movie. They each have their own relationship with Qui-Gonn Jinn and it is only after his death that the two characters are thrust together as Obi-Wan fulfills Qui-Gonn’s wish that Anakin be trained as a Jedi Knight.
This meant that Attack of the Clones had the difficult task of showing the close, complex relationship these characters shared, a relationship that had been developed offscreen in the 10 years that took place between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. The second prequel had to pull this off so the inevitable tragedy of their relationship in Revenge of the Sith would have the proper emotional stakes and feel earned.
How Attack of the Clones develops Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship
The first scene with Obi-Wan and Anakin in Attack of the Clones is in an elevator as they go to see Senator Padmé Amidala. As Obi-Wan remarks that Anakin seems on edge, there is immediately banter and a sense of familiarity between them, along with references to adventures they’ve had together during the last 10 years.
In addition to giving a sense of the history the characters have shared together offscreen, the brief scene does an excellent job of showing their chemistry, their bond, and how they’ve changed since The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan’s insights into how Anakin is feeling, his use of humor, and his efforts to make Anakin feel calmer show how much Obi-Wan has grown to care for and understand Anakin. Training Anakin may have been a responsibility thrust upon him, but he clearly does not treat Anakin like a burden.
While this scene establishes the positive aspects of their relationship, the next scene brings the tension between them to the forefront. When Obi-Wan tells Padmé they are here to protect her and not to start an investigation, Anakin assures her they will find the people who are trying to kill her, the two Jedi begin to argue.
Obi-Wan argues they must do what the Jedi Council asked them to do and that Anakin must follow his lead and remember his place. Anakin openly challenges his master and argues that as Jedi, they need to do more than just be security.
Anakin’s frustrations with the Jedi Order, their limits, and their inability to go far enough to achieve victory are major parts of his characters in The Clone Wars and his fall to the dark side in Revenge of the Sith, along with doing whatever he feels is right to protect Padmé .
Fans usually give all the credit to those stories for developing Anakin this way, yet Attack of the Clones begins developing these parts of his character from the very beginning of the movie. The argument between Obi-Wan and Anakin is not an isolated argument, but a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the Jedi that will play a role in ultimately driving them apart.
The dynamic between Obi-Wan and Anakin as they chase Zam Wesell through the skies and streets of Coruscant further develops their relationship. Anakin makes many impulsive decisions and Obi-Wan grows frustrated with him. Yet, it is made clear this is not enough to shake their bond. Obi-Wan is still patient with Anakin and reminds him of some valuable lessons, while Anakin genuinely apologizes and remarks how Obi-Wan is the closest thing he has to a father.
Even though Anakin and Obi-Wan are separated and on their own missions for the majority of the rest of the movie, their relationship continues to develop.
This is especially seen in Anakin’s interactions with Padmé as Anakin shares how he is grateful to be the student of a Jedi as wise and powerful as Obi-Wan, yet is frustrated by the ways he feels that Obi-Wan is holding him back.
As Anakin and Padmé enjoy their time together at the lake house on Naboo, Anakin uses the Force to cut up a pear and float a piece of it toward Padmé so she can catch it with her fork and eat it. While cutting up the pear, Anakin mentions that “If Master Obi-Wan caught me doing this, he’d be very grumpy.”
Even though Obi-Wan is not around, he is never far from Anakin’s thoughts. It’s just a small moment, yet Anakin can’t help but think of how Obi-Wan stands in his way and disapproves of certain things that Anakin does.
After Shmi Skywalker dies and Anakin returns to the Lars homestead, he lashes out when Padmé checks up on him. During this, an enraged, tearful Anakin yells about how he will be the most powerful Jedi ever, one who can stop people from dying. He blames Obi-Wan, shouting that he is jealous and holding him back.
Obi-Wan has nothing to do with the death of Anakin’s mother. He did not cause Shmi’s death and there is nothing he could’ve taught Anakin to stop her from dying. Yet, in his rage and frustration, Anakin can’t help but think of Obi-Wan as an obstacle standing in his way, a feeling that Palpatine knows he must exploit to push Anakin to the dark side.
It is also easier for Anakin to focus on the resentment he feels toward Obi-Wan than it is to confront his mother’s death and his violent decision to slaughter the entire tribe of Tuskens holding her captive.
When Anakin learns that Obi-Wan’s life is in danger on Geonosis, he once again asserts that Obi-Wan is like a father to him and he and Padmé go to rescue him, proving that despite the things he’s said during his time away from Obi-Wan, he still deeply appreciates and cares for Obi-Wan and would do anything for him.
After being reunited on Geonosis, the best and the worst of their relationship continues to manifest. Obi-Wan commends Anakin on making a good call when he tells the clone troopers to aim right above the fuel cells of the Separatist ships trying to escape. Obi-Wan is also confident that he and Anakin have what it takes to stop Count Dooku on their own, confident in their ability to work as a team.
Unfortunately, Anakin’s impulsiveness and anger leads him to try and attack Dooku on his own, a decision that means he and Obi-Wan have to fight the Sith Lord separately instead of together. Anakin does save Obi-Wan’s life when Dooku is about to kill him, but the two Jedi are not in sync and working as a team.
Anakin and Obi-Wan being on different pages is nothing new, but it is made worse after Padmé falls out of the Republic gunship as they pursue Dooku. Anakin makes it clear that Padmé is more important to him than their responsibilities as Jedi, while Obi-Wan makes it clear that Anakin will be expelled from the Jedi Order if he chooses his attachments over stopping Dooku and potentially saving the galaxy from war.
All of these elements–the tension, the disagreements, the gratitude, and the love–builds further in The Clone Wars, Revenge of the Sith and other stories to make Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship the emotional crux of the prequel era.
Star Wars fans are fortunate to see this relationship continuing to be developed in Brotherhood, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and likely in more stories to come. Just don’t forget how Attack of the Clones laid the groundwork for the relationship between these two characters when they were master and apprentice.
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