It’s high noon on Tatooine. The scorching suns sit high over the desert planet as a robed stranger strolls into town. Known only as Ben, the mysterious man slowly changes the landscape and its inhabitants for the better while struggling to maintain some measure of anonymity.
Sound familiar? It should; it’s the setup for three-quarters of the Western movies out there and the premise behind one of the most engaging books in the Star Wars expanded universe, John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: Kenobi. However, of course, the Western genre isn’t new to Star Wars by any means. We already know that George Lucas was inspired by Akira Kurosawa for his approaches to cinematography, plot, and character. Kurosawa directed Seven Samurai, the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars, among other classic Westerns.
With the success of The Force Awakens and the plans in motion for a Han Solo spinoff, fans are clamoring for even more films to add to the Star Wars canon. And after Ewan McGregor’s lauded performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, it’s only natural to wonder if the Scottish actor will be reprising his role in the near future. While the likelihood of an Obi-Wan-centered movie is unknown at this point, the release of the new Marvel Star Wars comics and the success of Kenobi only fuel the fire of Obi-Wan desire.
Just recently, the second of the Obi-Wan-focused Marvel issues came out and introduced a quiet, subdued Obi-Wan as he watches over Luke on Tatooine. Star Wars #15’s interpretation of the aging Jedi is charming and funny, just as we know him to be from the films. Obi-Wan struggles to reconcile his necessary solitude with his duty to protect and aid Luke, but the former Jedi manages to settle as best he can into his new role on the planet.
The previous Obi-Wan-centered issue, Star Wars #7, illustrated the development of young and impetuous Obi-Wan into the wise loner Ben. Star Wars #7 introduced us to an Obi-Wan infuriated with Tatooine’s criminal climate, itching to use his now-lost Jedi authority to dispense a much-needed helping of justice.
Obi-Wan’s time on Tatooine is an interesting one for fans to explore, as it does present us with a period of unknown events within a set timeline. We have some knowledge of his youth from the prequels and from The Clone Wars, and we also see his final moments in the original movie. Outside of the expanded universe, now classified as “Legends,” these new Marvel comics provide the first canonical glimpse at Obi-Wan’s transformation into Old Ben.
John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: Kenobi considers the Western motifs present in the concept of a planet like Tatooine (down-on-their-luck moisture farmers, the desert landscape, and a strong criminal presence) and rides off into the sunset with the idea. It tells the story through other characters’ eyes, allowing us to see Obi-Wan in a new, more mysterious light.
Jennifer Heddle, Lucasfilm’s senior editor of adult fiction, describes the pitch for the book as the classic 1953 Western film Shane, “but with ‘Ben’ in the Shane role.” Shane, like Ben, is a loner, a shady gunslinger who wanders into a small Wyoming settlement and essentially single-handedly resolves a war between the homesteaders and a malevolent cattle baron. Obi-Wan’s battle may instead be with Tusken Raiders and trigger-happy moisture farmers, but the conflict is very similar; there’s even a beautiful, sassy innkeeper who inevitably falls for the one man she can’t have.
If a Jedi needed to hide his Force powers, as Obi-Wan does, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that he might take up a blaster. Maybe a six-shooter for added power? And if it’s so bright with Tatooine’s two suns, wouldn’t he need some kind of hat to block out the rays? And a poncho to protect his skin? I’m probably fishing at this point.
Regardless of whether he’s in Jedi’s robes or a tattered poncho, Obi-Wan on Tatooine screams WESTERN, and we can see him fitting into so many classic roles such as Shane, Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name, or any of The Magnificent Seven, depending on where his adventures take him. And once the hero has something he can’t stand to lose (a boy who holds the entire fate of the Force in his hands, perhaps?), it makes the climactic standoff all the more exciting.
Would you be interested in an Obi-Wan spinoff? If so, do you see it following the same vein as Force Awakens or perhaps taking on a different tone? How amazing do you think Ewan McGregor would look in a poncho? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Featured image credit: LucasBooks/Del Rey
Image credits: LucasBooks/Del Rey, Marvel, Marvel/Simone Bianchi, United Artists/Wikimedia Commons