As I've said time and time again, it's this author's opinion that Obi Wan Kenobi is one of the greatest duellists in Star Wars history. His character is one of the most appealing, empathetic and well-explored in all of the franchise. So it's a HUGE surprise to us that there are over 100 people each and every month asking Google who he is.
Let's rectify this - and add something for the fans too. In this article, we're going to explore Obi Wan Kenobi the character and the actors who played him. We'll discuss his canonical timeline, his role in the story and most importantly, his crucial duelling lightsaber battles that saw him change history.
Ahead of Disney's new Obi-Wan Kenobi series premiering in May 2022, you may be wondering who Obi-Wan is, or why he's important enough to have an entire show built around him? Have a read below to get up to speed on why he's one of the most beloved characters in the franchise.
Who is Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Obi-Wan Kenobi, also called 'Ben Kenobi' by a young Luke Skywalker, is a reclusive figure who is secretly one of the last remaining Jedi in the Galaxy at the time of Episode IV: A New Hope. He is responsible for watching over Luke and guiding him to his own destiny - thus becoming one of the most important characters in the entire series.
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
The lines above are transmitted by R2D2 on behalf of Princess Leia, a desperate plea from the captured woman to the elusive man hiding on Tatooine. When A New Hope was first shown in cinemas back in 1977, the audience didn't know who Obi-Wan was for a little while - and we shared Luke Skywalker's surprise when it was shown that the hermit who lives near Luke's family in a remote part of Tatooine was actually ex-Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
But thanks to the prequel series, Obi-Wan's character was explored further and we got to see how he came to be. Obi Wan is a Jedi hailing back to the golden era of the republic. He was a padawan apprentice to Qui Gon Jinn and then himself a Jedi Knight and subsequently, master. His role in Star Wars is pivotal - he is arguably the man most responsible for many of the galaxy-spanning changes that happen around him.
Crucially, Obi-Wan's personality is very endearing. He's one of the few Jedi willing to show outright emotion and some 'cheekiness' - even being rebuked at times by Master Yoda for his cocky nature. Despite this, he is loyal to the Jedi order and remains that way even through some of the deepest betrayals and pain imaginable. Obi-Wan represents the best of the order and subsequently, the best of Star Wars - a true hero in a galaxy of mixed agendas and shady dealings.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's impact on the plot
When we say Obi-Wan is pivotal, we're not lying. Here are the main 'changes' from the movie franchise that Obi-Wan is responsible for:
1. He helps his master Qui-Gon Jinn take Anakin Skywalker from his home on Tatooine, thus setting the path to Darth Vader's rise into motion.
2. He discovers the clone troopers being created for the republic on the planet of Kamino.
3. He defeats Darth Maul, avenges his master and becomes responsible for training Anakin.
4. Kenobi then dispatches General Grievous - a cybernetic assassin wielding 4 lightsabers at once.
5. Later, he defeats Anakin himself in a battle on Mustafar - ending their friendship forever and destroying so much of Anakin that he is forced into the robotic Vader suit to survive.
6. He hides Luke on Tatooine and watches over him. When the time comes, he sets Luke on the path to discovering his destiny.
7. He gives Luke Skywalker his first lightsaber - but doesn't quite reveal its origins. In fact, he tells Luke half-truths and allows him to discover the real truth later.
8. Finally, he defends the group when they are aboard the Death Star and sacrifices himself in a duel with Vader, becoming one with the force. He then sends Luke on his path towards Yoda.
Who plays Obi Wan Kenobi?
Obi-Wan is one of the few Star Wars characters who has been portrayed by two different actors. In the original trilogy, Sir Alec Guinness plays the wizened Jedi in his twilight years. Even before the prequel storylines were fleshed out, Sir Alec managed to portray the sense of loss and sadness that Kenobi has following the rise of the Empire.
If you want to see just how well Sir Alec nailed the role, take a look at this fan edit.
In the prequel trilogy, he was portrayed instead by Ewan McGregor. McGregor's performance is one of the main points of acclaim from the prequel trilogy and many Star Wars fans still regard him as the quintessential Obi-Wan.
Ewan McGregor will reprise his role when the Obi-Wan Kenobi series begins in May 2022.
Did Darth Vader Kill Obi-Wan Kenobi?
No, not really. While Vader does indeed 'strike him down', Kenobi's form dissipates - leaving only robes behind. You don't need to be a medical genius to understand that a saber cut wouldn't do that to you. Instead, his acceptance of the duel's outcome and Vader's unchecked aggression leads to Kenobi becoming one with the force.
So what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi when he disappeared? He is absorbed into the force, which exists in and around all of the Galaxy. By giving in to his destiny and allowing Vader to strike him down he becomes a living part of the force, an immortal being that is 'more powerful than you can possibly imagine.'
Why does Obi-Wan Kenobi have a blue lightsaber?
Considering that his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, has a green lightsaber, you may be forgiven for asking this question. Obi-Wan was always a bit of a rebel, however, so he forged his own saber in a colour that represents the balance of light and dark.
Additionally, even though Kenobi used Qui-Gon's green saber to defeat Maul, he later returned it to the Jedi Temple to lay it to rest. For a character like Obi-Wan, perhaps using his master's old saber felt too disrespectful. He wanted to go his own way - which the blue saber represents.
If you want to follow in Obi-Wan's storied path, you can either wield our Elegance saber below or create your own saber with our unique Saber Builder. All of our duelling sabers offer custom colour options, so you can go blue for Kenobi or red for the Sith.