Obi-Wan Kenobi is now out in its entirety, and opinions seem to be split on it. Some fans love it, whereas other fans are disappointed with how the season has turned out. Personally, while there is plenty to like about the show, there is no denying that some elements didn’t work. And that mostly has to do with the fact that this is a limited series, and not the film it was originally. Changing Obi Wan Kenobi to a limited series from a film was a mistake, one Disney has already made with Boba Fett.
Back in May of 2018, Solo released to a disappointing $393.2 million, off a budget of around $250 million plus marketing costs. This failure likely cost Lucasfilm around $50 million, resulting in Lucasfilm icing all spin-off films that it had in development, most prominently one centred on Obi Wan Kenobi and other on Boba Fett. However, the lesson that audiences weren’t interested in spin-off films was the wrong lesson to learn. Solo came out less than six months after The Last Jedi, which proved extremely divisive with fans, and many likely boycotted Solo in response. Many other people also felt fatigued with the franchise. The film garnered favourable reviews, with many praising Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as Solo. The problem wasn’t the film itself, but contextual factors.
These factors wouldn’t have been present for a film about Obi-Wan Kenobi or Boba Fett. Audiences have wanted to see an Obi-Wan standalone project for years, and would have turned out in droves for a film centered on him. However, Lucasfilm failed to realize this. Instead, both characters would receive a Disney plus show. Now that both shows have debuted, it’s clear that both would have been better as a movie.
The Book of Boba Fett received a lot of criticism for its handling of Boba Fett, who in the show behaves a lot differently than many in the audience were expecting. He is a lot less brutal than he was even in the post credits scene of the finale of The Mandalorian season two. The show displays a huge lack of focus, bringing in a lot of characters that seem to be the villain but aren’t actually, meaning the main villains don’t receive the focus they need either.
Two episodes completely abandon Fett, choosing instead to focus on Din Djarin and his story. Whilst little is known about the cancelled film, it’s safe to say that it would’ve had a stronger focus on Boba Fett, with better action and Boba being the character audiences know.
Obi Wan Kenobi fares better than The Book of Boba Fett, however it hasn’t been the sure fire hit that Lucasfilm expected, due to the plot. Leia’s kidnapping is elongated, extending for one or two episodes longer than it should have. It feels like the writers want certain characters in position, but aren’t entirely sure how to get them there.
In Part Three, when Tala and Leia escape into the tunnel while being pursued by the Third Sister, Tala doubles back without being caught, and the Third Sister jumps in front of Leia to capture her. In Part Five, both Darth Vader and the Grand Inquisitor leave the Third Sister alive after she betrays both of them, when the audience has seen Darth Vader slaughter hapless Imperial officers for much less. Finally, in Part Six, the Third Sister, who the audience last sees crawling on the flaw, has now teleported halfway across the galaxy, so she can threaten Luke.
While seeing live action Inquisitors is amazing, they could have still appeared in a similar but smaller role in a film. It could have been done in a slightly different way, as while the bickering felt organic to the organization, the Third Sister stabbing the Grand Inquisitor in Part Two felt like a cheap and rushed plot point. A reduced role for the Inquisitors would have allowed for more of a focus on Kenobi and Vader. For example, more flashbacks could have been incorporated into the plot. The flashback audiences get is beautifully woven into the narrative, and it’s a shame that more aren’t shown.
Another area a film could have improved is the budget. Obi Wan Kenobi has a reported $90 million production budget, which is below The Book Of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian, and far below the budget of Moon Knight ($165+ million) and Ms Marvel ($150+ million). The low budget of this show is evident in the design of the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother, who have had their alien elements toned down. The planet Maputo also looked very Earth-like, especially when compared to Daiyu or Jabiim.
Had the project been a film instead, it would have received far more funding, meaning better make-up for the characters. Furthermore, the de-aging effects that Part Five uses would have also received more funding, pushing the technology for future projects.
Finally, the sequences that Obi Wan Kenobi does do well would have been bolstered by being viewed in a cinema. Audiences who missed seeing Revenge of the Sith in the cinema would have been able to witness the tragedy of Order 66 on the big screen. The final duel between Obi Wan and Vader already has a cinematic feel to it, so viewing it on the big screen would have been so much better.
Limited series do have their place in Star Wars storytelling, but it’s hard not to see how both characters have done a disservice by not getting a film. Fans have lost out by not seeing fan favourite characters return to the big screen, and ultimately Lucasfilm has lost out on the profits they could’ve made off both films. Limited series shouldn’t be used to replace films, but it seems Lucasfilm’s current strategy is to use them to do just that.
Follow Dork Side of the Force for all your Star Wars news, reviews, and more!