With the release of the first teaser trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor’s Jedi master has taken his first step into the streaming world.
Fueled by the nostalgic use of the iconic “Duel of Fates” theme from the Star Wars prequels, the nearly two-minute teaser, which debuted on Wednesday, is a jolt of adrenaline for Star Wars fans who eagerly await the arrival of the six-episode limited series on Disney+, starting May 25. Aside from a couple of voiced cameos in the sequel trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi marks McGregor’s first appearance in a galaxy far, far away since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith—and he’s not the only familiar face returning. Joel Edgerton also reprises his role as Owen Lars, and the lightsaber-spinning Grand Inquisitor—who was introduced in the animated Star Wars Rebels series—makes his live-action debut, played by Rupert Friend. And though he is absent from the teaser, Hayden Christensen will be back as Darth Vader, whose unmistakable breathing creeps into the preview’s final moments.
In 106 seconds, the trailer supplies more than enough information to set the stakes for the limited series. It opens with Obi-Wan on the familiar sands of Tatooine, dejected after the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Galactic Empire. “The fight is done,” he says in a voice-over. “We lost.” But a new hope lies in the child of the man who was supposed to bring balance to the Force, and Obi-Wan has been entrusted to watch over him. The boy is still years away from destroying the Death Star, but as the first Obi-Wan Kenobi teaser reminds us, Obi-Wan’s first priority is to protect a young Luke Skywalker:
Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to take place 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. That positions the series in the 19-year time frame between the original trilogy and the prequels, a period that has hardly been explored on screen outside of Solo, The Bad Batch, and the 2019 video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (which introduced the Fortress Inquisitorius, which seemingly makes an appearance in the teaser). In the final moments of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan hands over baby Luke to his aunt Beru (played by Bonnie Piesse, who is also set to reprise her role in the series), and by the time we see him again in A New Hope, he’s an elderly hermit who Luke knows simply as “Old Ben.” Obi-Wan Kenobi will explore what happened to Obi-Wan in those intervening years, how he was able to keep Luke hidden and evade the claws of the Empire, and perhaps how his thinking about the Jedi Order and its downfall has evolved. “Jedi cannot help what they are,” the Grand Inquisitor says. “Their compassion leaves a trail. The Jedi code is like an itch; he cannot help it.”
As one of the sole survivors of the Great Jedi Purge, the Jedi master is on the run from the Inquisitors, an organization of Force-sensitive agents who serve the Sith-ruled Empire. The teaser highlights two of them as they search the galaxy for Obi-Wan: original character Reva (Moses Ingram) and the Grand Inquisitor, the latter of whom menacingly explains, “The key to hunting Jedi is … patience.” The presence and prominence of multiple Inquisitors—including a third figure whose headgear resembles that of Rebels’ Fifth Brother—speaks to the importance of Dave Filoni’s animated oeuvre in shaping the franchise’s live-action future, even though Filoni isn’t working on this series in an official capacity. The teaser also gives a glimpse of an Imperial officer played by Indira Varma, the latest actor to cross over from Game of Thrones to Tatooine.
While the search for Obi-Wan brings Reva to Tatooine, an all-too-familiar planet that The Book of Boba Fett just spent almost an entire season of TV confined to, the upcoming series will graciously take us off world as Kenobi presumably seeks to draw attention away from the young Skywalker. The preview provides our first extended look at a new, neo-noir-esque planet called Daiyu, which writer Joby Harold describes as “sort of [having] a Hong Kong feel to it” with “a graffiti-ridden nightlife.” (It looks a little like Blade Runner crossed with the lower levels of Coruscant.) And Obi-Wan’s story may lead him to more planets still.
Directed by Deborah Chow, who previously helmed two episodes in the first season of The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi is Lucasfilm’s latest attempt to expand the Star Wars universe by focusing on familiar characters through previously untold stories. Since 2016, films like Rogue One and Solo, along with the recent Book of Boba Fett, have all built on characters or story lines introduced in George Lucas’s original trilogy. (Boba and Obi-Wan were originally bound for big-screen spinoffs before the franchise fully turned to TV.) Though the three such projects to date have yielded mixed results, together they help fill in the gaps of the all-encompassing Skywalker Saga.
Obi-Wan Kenobi will afford fans the chance to see McGregor dust off his cloaks and lightsaber in the first live-action spinoff project to mostly build off of the events of the prequel trilogy. And because the series is set between Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker’s dramatic duel on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith and Obi-Wan’s death by the blade of Darth Vader in A New Hope, another rematch between the master and his former padawan likely lies ahead (which may require a retconning of a classic line).
Amid all the recent small-screen attention on bounty hunters and Mandalorians, the Jedi are having a renaissance on Disney+, as the highly anticipated Ahsoka looms ahead in 2023 (after the second season of The Bad Batch and the first season of Andor, which are due out later this year). But that renaissance starts with the continuation of the tale of the first Jedi ever to appear on the big screen. Forty-five years after Alec Guinness originated the role, Obi-Wan is about to embark on his first on-screen, solo adventure.