Obi Wan Kenobi - The Nick Fury of the Star Wars Cinematic Universe?
A second consideration is that Star Wars fans will be left clamoring for more familiar faces after Episode IX. We are now 18 years past the release of The Phantom Menace, and there’s a generation of kids who grew up with Ewan McGregor as their first Obi-Wan. A lot of these viewers are now in—or entering—their twenties, and their taste for nostalgia is surely not lost on Disney.
Let’s face it. Disney played it safe with The Force Awakens. Some say too safe, and have gone as far as to call Episode VII a virtual remake of the original Star Wars. Rogue One, despite an entirely new cast and a darker tone, not only featured characters from the original in supporting roles, but literally ended five minutes before A New Hope began. With no more trilogies to come, Disney may well bank on a sure thing, and that sure thing is McGregor.
There’s also McGregor’s age. Currently 46, he’s 16 years younger than Guinness was when principal photography began on the first Star Wars film. Factor in the 19 years that separate the end of Episode III from the beginning of Episode IV within the Star Wars universe, and there’s plenty of room for storytelling featuring Obi-Wan over then next two decades.
Could McGregor’s Obi-Wan become the Nick Fury of the Star Wars Cinematic Universe? We already know that he spent a good chunk of the time between the Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope watching over Luke on Tatooine. Yet he was so imposing—or important enough—a figure that Leia entrusted him with the Death Star plans as the Tantive IV was being boarded by Vader and his troops. There’s plenty of room to explore in his backstory.
If we take the long view, however, there’s one last play that Disney may be considering. The Star Wars franchise is already 40 years old. Two generations of fans have grown up on the films, the comic books, the novels, the animated series, and the assorted merchandise. Despite a lull in the late 80s and early 90s, Star Wars continues to be a pop culture phenomenon, and a lucrative one, at that. We’ve already seen Disney mine its past, with live-action remakes of animated classics like The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and 101 Dalmatians. Could the studio be eyeing a remake of the 1977 classic, perhaps for the 50th anniversary of the franchise?
Given Hollywood’s current infatuation with reboots and remakes, is another take on A New Hope—and the original Star Wars Trilogy—in the books? McGregor is in the right age range to play Obi-Wan to Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. But would it fly? Despite advances in special effects and filmmaking technology, the original is still an iconic film that feels fresh and continues to captivate audiences. But that hasn’t stopped Disney before.