A Beginner’s Guide to Obi-Wan Kenobi
Updated: Jul 4, 2022
Everything you need to know to watch the new Disney+ miniseries.
It’s been nearly 45 years since the original Star Wars film, and now the iconic, Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally getting his own show.
The much-anticipated series will debut on Disney+ on May 27, but if you’re not familiar with the Star Wars Universe, you may be a little lost jumping into Obi-Wan Kenobi. So if you’re not interested in watching all the Star Wars content, we’ve got an Obi-Wan crash course for you!
The First Appearance
In the original Star Wars, now called Episode IV: A New Hope, a teenage Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) lives on the desert planet of Tatooine with his aunt and uncle.
One day, while buying a droid (robot) called R2-D2, he is attacked by the Tusken Raiders (sandy, steampunk people) and saved by an older, cloaked gentleman named “Old Ben” Kenobi (Alex Guinness). He reveals his actual name is Obi-Wan and that he used to be a Jedi Knight who’s now in hiding.
Obi-Wan explains that the Jedi were peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic. They wielded lightsabers, moved objects, and sensed forthcoming danger due to tapping into an energy source called "the Force.” Because of this, The Empire (bad guys) hunted them down leaving Obi-Wan as one of the last living Jedi. He tells Luke that Luke’s father was also a Jedi Knight, and they fought side-by-side in the Clone Wars. That was, until Darth Vader, a former student of Obi-Wan’s, seduced Luke’s father to the dark side of the Force, and then killed him.
During this encounter, R2-D2 plays a video message from Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) where she recalls that her father served with Obi-Wan in the Clone Wars. She asks Obi-Wan to save her planet, Alderaan, from the Empire. Obi-Wan and Luke head into town and recruit smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his buddy Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to pilot them to Alderaan on Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon. When they get there, they find that Alderaan has already been destroyed by the Empire’s laser weapon: the Death Star.
The Falcon is captured and the group hides from Stormtroopers in the secret cargo hold — Han is a smuggler after all. Obi-Wan decides to shut down the weapon, while Luke, Han, and Chewbacca go after Leia, who is set to be executed because she would not reveal the location of the Rebel Alliance’s base.
While both groups are successful, Obi-Wan ultimately sacrifices himself in a lightsaber battle with Vader so the others can escape on the Falcon. However, his spirit communicates with Luke while he pilots an X-wing, so he can target his missiles at the exact spot needed to destroy the Death Star.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
There are three prequel movies: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Episode I focuses on young Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) as a Padawan, or Jedi-in-training, and his Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). There’s a lot of boring space politics in this film that explains how the Galactic Republic turned into the Empire (a dictatorship).
Essentially, Qui-Gon is trying to negotiate peace talks between the Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo, led by pre-teen Queen, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman). This is because the Trade Federation has installed a blockade preventing supplies from getting in and out of Naboo.
An attack forces Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar Binks (an annoying ally), R2-D2, and Padmé (disguised as a handmaiden) to land on Tatooine for repairs. There, they meet a smart and inquisitive boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gon senses that the “Force is strong” with Anakin, and he believes he might be the chosen one destined to bring balance to the Force. The Jedi Council (who make all the rules), think this is unlikely and that he is too old to be trained anyway, as potential Jedi are identified and taken at a very young age to train before they form attachments (this will be a key pain point later).
Later, Qui-Gon battles a Sith Lord (like Jedi Masters on the dark side of the Force) named Dark Maul. Qui-Gon is wounded and uses his dying breath to plead with Obi-Wan to train Anakin as a Jedi.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
In Episode II, we see promoted Jedi Master Obi-Wan with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) as his Padawan learner. Padmé Amidala, now a Senator in the Galactic Senate representing Naboo, is placed under their protection because of several assassination attempts.
Obi-Wan follows the trail from the latest attempt, while Anakin takes Padmé back to Naboo to hide. There, they fall in love, which sucks because the Jedi Code prohibits relationships, so it’s the classic, forbidden love troupe.
In his investigation, Obi-Wan finds that a clone army is being manufactured for the Republic on a distant planet called Kamino under the orders of a deceased Jedi. He also discovers that the Separatists (who declared independence from the Galactic Republic) are developing a droid army for the Trade Federation. So, a war between the Trade Federation and the Republic is coming.
Later, Count Dooku (fallen Jedi and leader of the Separatists) reveals that the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious (the leader of the Sith), is controlling a large portion of the Galactic Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate votes to grant emergency powers to Sheev Palpatine (another Senator from Naboo) allowing him to become Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Now in charge, he authorizes the use of the clone army for the defense of the Republic. Welp, the war is here.
Anakin, plagued with nightmares of his mother, finds out she was kidnapped back on Tatooine and he doesn’t make it in time to rescue her, so she dies from injuries. He vows to never lose another person he loves (I doubt that will come back to haunt him). He then secretly marries Padmé on Naboo.
***Note: Obi-Wan Kenobi also makes appearances in the animated movie, The Clone Wars, and the subsequent Clone Wars t.v. series that followed. However, since they take place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we don’t think it’s required viewing as it just builds upon the plotlines from those films.
Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Obi-Wan and Anakin rescue Chancellor Palpatine from the cyborg Separatist commander, General Grievous. After the mission, Anakin learns Padmé is pregnant and he has a nightmare that she dies in childbirth. Anakin is also annoyed because he feels he is ready to become a Jedi Master but the Jedi Council doesn’t agree.
As a thank you for saving him, Palpatine appoints Anakin to the Jedi Council as his personal representative. Here, they become confidants. Palpatine teaches him about the dark side of the Force and even says he can teach him how to prevent Padmé’s death. How? Well, Palpatine is the aforementioned Darth Sidious (leader of the Sith). Star Wars loves a double identity reveal!
Palpatine then issues Order 66, which commands the Clone Army, (dressed as Stormtroopers) to kill all the Jedi across the galaxy. He then has Anakin kill the younglings that are training in the Jedi temple while he declares himself Emperor of the Galactic Senate. So the Republic is effectively a dictatorship now called the Empire. Luckily, Yoda manages to escape thanks to the help of Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan.
Anxious and concerned, Obi-Wan and Padmé head to a lava planet called Mustafar to save Anakin. However, Anakin is now consumed with darkness and believes they are there to kill him. He uses the Force to strangle Padmé, and then duels Obi-Wan in one of the most iconic lightsaber battles of all time. Obi-Wan has the high ground though, so Vader is left without limbs, burning in hot lava.
Good ‘ole Palpy finds the burned marshmallow that is now Vader and puts him back together Humpty-Dumpty style in a black suit and helmet. Palpatine tells Vader that in his anger, Vader killed Padmé. Vader’s anger and sadness cause him to fully submit to the dark side of the Force and gain full use of his Sith powers.
At the same time, Padmé is dying, so droids deliver her baby which turns out to be twins: a boy and a girl she names Luke and Leia with her dying breath. Obi-Wan and Yoda, seemingly the only Jedi left, decide to hide Padmé’s babies from the Empire and go into exile. Senator Organa and his wife adopt, Leia, and Obi-Wan takes Luke to live with his step-uncle and aunt on Tatooine.
This will be a six-episode miniseries that takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith (where Anakin gets toasted), and nine years before the events of the original film (where Luke meets Obi-Wan). Ewan McGregor is back in the starring role, and Hayden Christensen will reprise his role as Darth Vader.
Admittedly, the trailer didn't reveal much about Obi-Wan Kenobi other than it begins with the titular character in hiding on Tatooine watching over Luke. We also know that the Inquisitors (Force-sensitive individuals who work with the Sith) will make an appearance. Presumably, they will be working with Darth Vader to hunt down any Jedi that managed to escape Order 66, and looking for any Force-sensitive children they could capture and train to use the dark side of the Force.
Fans have speculated that the show may also depict Obi-Wan learning how to communicate with other deceased Jedi, and eventually learning how to project his spirit through the Force after death. This is something that Yoda alludes to when he chats with Obi-Wan post-Order 66 in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts on Disney+ on May 27, 2022
***Note: Obi-Wan Kenobi does make appearances in the animated show Star Wars Rebels, which takes place four years after his own show. Both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rebels are set between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. Aside from the Inquisitors, which will make an appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Rebels mainly follows a new set of characters which is why we chose not to include it here.