Obi-Wan Kenobi

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Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars character
Alec Guinness as Ben Kenobi in Star Wars
Portrayed by Ben Kenobi:
Alec Guinness (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
Bernard Behrens (Star Wars Radio Adaptation)
Stephen Stanton (Star Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars: Battlefront II)
Nick Jameson (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (the video game) and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed)
Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film and TV series), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2002 video game), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (the video game), Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Lightsaber Duels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Jedi Alliance)
David Scott (Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace)
Samuel Vincent (Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles)
Fictional profile
Species Human
Gender Male
Position Jedi Padawan
Jedi Knight
Jedi Master
Jedi Council Member
Jedi General
Homeworld Stewjon[1]
Affiliation Jedi Order
Rebel Alliance
Galactic Republic

Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. The character has been portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness in the original trilogy and by Ewan McGregor in the prequel trilogy, as well as voiced by James Arnold Taylor in various other Star Wars projects.

Appearances[edit]

Prequel trilogy[edit]

In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan Kenobi is depicted as the Padawan (student) of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.[2] He accompanies his master in negotiations with the Trade Federation blockading the planet Naboo; but they are attacked by battle droids and retreat to Naboo, where the Gungan Jar Jar Binks assists them in reaching Queen Padmé Amidala. In escaping the blockade, the ship is damaged and lands on Tatooine, where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan meet Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi Council forbids Anakin's training, believing that the boy's future is endangered by his own anxieties. During a major battle, Qui-Gon is mortally wounded by Sith Lord Darth Maul; whereupon Obi-Wan seizes his master's lightsaber and kills Maul. With his dying breath, Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin. For his heroics in defeating a Sith (being the first Jedi in 1,000 years to do so), Grand Master Yoda bestows on Obi-Wan the rank of Jedi Knight and reluctantly grants him permission to train Anakin.[3]

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones.

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan has become an experienced Jedi Knight, while Anakin has grown powerful but arrogant, and resents Obi-Wan for restraining him. Both are assigned to protect Senator Padmé Amidala after an attempt on her life, which Obi-Wan to the planet Kamino and, once there, learns of a clone army intended for the Galactic Republic. He then meets with bounty hunter Jango Fett (the template of the clones) and deduces that Fett sponsored the attempts on the senator's life. Obi-Wan attempts to apprehend Fett, but Fett escapes with his adopted son to the planet Geonosis. There, Obi-Wan discovers a conspiracy of star systems bent on secession from the Republic, led by Sith Lord Count Dooku. After sending a message to Anakin, Obi-Wan is captured.

After Anakin and Padmé arrive on Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan and are themselves captured, all three are sentenced to death by the Geonosians. The executions are prevented by Jedi and clone reinforcements led by Jedi Masters Mace Windu and Yoda, resulting in the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan and Anakin confront Dooku in a duel, wherein he strikes Anakin with Force lightning, then turns to Obi-Wan. When the two duel, Dooku outmaneuvers Obi-Wan; but Anakin engages him in a duel, which ends with Dooku cutting off Anakin's right arm, and Yoda intervening. When losing to Yoda, Dooku puts Obi-Wan and Anakin in mortal danger to escape.[4]

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Jedi Master on the High Jedi Council and a General in the Army of the Republic. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker remains Obi-Wan's partner and the two have become war heroes. When sent to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from Separatist leader General Grievous, they oppose Count Dooku. After Dooku knocks Obi-Wan unconscious, Anakin defeats Dooku and kills him in cold blood. After returning to Coruscant, Obi-Wan is called to Utapau to confront Grievous, whom he ultimately kills. When Palpatine issues Order 66 to have the clone troopers murder their Jedi generals, Obi-Wan meets with Yoda and Senator Bail Organa aboard Organa's ship Tantive IV. Returning to Coruscant, he and Yoda discover that every Jedi in the Jedi Temple has been murdered. After sending word to all surviving Jedi to remain in hiding, Obi-Wan learns that Anakin took part in the slaughter, and has become Palpatine's Sith apprentice, Darth Vader, whereupon Yoda charges Obi-Wan with confronting Vader while Yoda himself fights Palpatine.

Obi-Wan asks Padmé for his whereabouts, and realizes that Vader is the father of Padmé's unborn children; whereupon Padmé goes to the planet Mustafar to confront Vader herself, while Obi-Wan stows away aboard her ship. After Padmé arrives on Mustafar, Obi-Wan and Vader fight a duel, which ends with Obi-Wan severing Vader's legs and left arm in midair; Vader then slides into a lava flow and sustains life-threatening burns. Obi-Wan retrieves Anakin's lightsaber and departs; but Vader survives and is rebuilt as the black cyborg of the original trilogy. Obi-Wan watches helplessly as Padmé dies giving birth to the twins Luke and Leia. Luke is put on Tatooine with Owen Lars (Anakin's stepbrother) while Leia is adopted by Bail Organa and his wife. Yoda then tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon Jinn's spirit will teach him how to retain his identity commune with the living after death. Obi-Wan is last seen giving Luke to Owen and Beru Lars and disappearing into the distance.

Original trilogy[edit]

Introduced in Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a hermit on the planet Tatooine and has adopted the alias "Ben Kenobi". He rescues Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and C3PO from the Tusken Raiders, and discovers that R2-D2 and C-3PO escaped Princess Leia's ship to prevent the Death Star's plans from being recovered. After trying to convince Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and become a Jedi, Ben agrees to Luke's offer to take him to Anchorhead. En route, Ben and Luke discover the remains of an attacked Jawa sandcrawler, and later the burnt skeletons of Luke's foster uncle and aunt; whereupon Luke accepts Ben's offer of training. In the spaceport city Mos Eisley, Imperial troops question Luke about the droids, prompting Ben to telepathically confuse the leading soldier. Ben later hires Han Solo and Chewbacca to fly them to Alderaan in their Millennium Falcon. During the journey, Ben begins instructing Luke in lightsaber training. Emerging from hyperspace, they find Alderaan destroyed, and the Falcon is attacked by an Imperial TIE Fighter. Against Ben's advice, Han is caught in the Death Star's tractor beam.

While Luke and Han rescue Princess Leia, Obi-Wan shuts down the tractor beam. Darth Vader confronts Obi-Wan and they duel while Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Leia fight their way back to the Falcon. As they rush aboard, Obi-Wan creates a distraction by allowing Vader to cut him in half; but only his empty robes and sabre hilt fall to the deck, and his voice urges Luke to escape. During the Rebel Alliance's attack on the Death Star, Luke hears Obi-Wan's assurance that "the Force will be with you". After many of the Rebel pilots are killed, Obi-Wan's voice tells Luke to "trust [his] feelings" rather than use the X-wing's targeting system; whereupon Luke does so, and destroys the Death Star. Afterward, Luke hears Obi-Wan's assurance "remember, the Force will be with you, always".

In The Empire Strikes Back, Ben Kenobi appears as a spirit in the Force to Luke Skywalker, and instructs his student to be taught by the exiled Yoda. Despite Yoda's skepticism, Ben's voice convinces his elder to continue the youth's training. Ben's spirit form later appears to persuade Luke not to try to rescue his friends on Cloud City, and is implied a regular appearance in Luke's training on Dagobah.[5]

In Return of the Jedi, Ben Kenobi appears again to Luke Skywalker, to explain that, in his understanding, Anakin Skywalker "betrayed and murdered" his previous identity, when assuming that of Darth Vader; and reveals that Princess Leia is Luke's twin sister. After the second Death Star is destroyed, Ben's ghost appears alongside the spirits of Yoda and the redeemed Anakin.[6]

Television[edit]

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a major character in the animated micro-series Star Wars: Clone Wars and the CGI animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In both series, Obi-Wan proves himself an adept strategist and spy, as his leadership style heavily favored subterfuge and misdirection while commanding clone troopers, or wielding the lightsaber and the Force. The latter series highlights his adversarial relationship with Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress.

Novels[edit]

Obi-Wan Kenobi appears extensively in the "Expanded Universe" of comic books and novels.

Obi-Wan's life prior to The Phantom Menace is portrayed mostly in Jude Watson's Jedi Apprentice and Jedi Quest series. The Jedi Apprentice books follow his adventures as Qui-Gon's Padawan. Notable events in the series include battling the Dark Jedi Xanatos, falling in love with fellow Padawan Siri Tachi, and going on his first independent mission. The Jedi Quest books detail his adventures with Anakin in the years leading up to Attack of the Clones.

His heroism just before and during the Clone Wars is portrayed in novels such as Outbound Flight, The Approaching Storm, and The Cestus Deception.

Obi-Wan's life between Revenge of the Sith and the original film is portrayed mostly in Jude Watson's The Last of the Jedi series. Set roughly a year after the fall of the Republic, the series follows Obi-Wan as he seeks out possible survivors of the Great Jedi Purge, most notably Anakin's former rival Ferus Olin. The books also portray Obi-Wan adjusting to life as a hermit on Tatooine, and quietly watching over Luke. He also discovers that Vader is still alive after seeing him on the Holonet, the galaxy's official news source.

Obi-Wan appears in spirit form in many novels set after Return of the Jedi. In The Truce at Bakura, he appears to Luke to warn him about the threat presented by the Ssi-ruuk; in The Lost City of the Jedi, he guides Luke to the titular city on Yavin IV; in Heir to the Empire, meanwhile, he bids farewell to Luke, explaining that he must abandon his spiritual form to "move on" to a new, higher plane of consciousness. Before parting, Luke tells him that Obi-Wan was like a father to him, to which Obi-Wan replies that he loved Luke like a son.

Video games[edit]

Obi-Wan Kenobi appears in many video games. He is a playable character in all four Lego Star Wars video games, as well as Battlefront II and Renegade Squadron. He is also the lead character in Star Wars: Obi-Wan. The older version is only playable in Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy and Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith multiplayer mode and Death Star bonus mission Star Wars: Renegade Squadron, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in multiplayer mode and the droid PROXY disguises as him. He also appears in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Jedi Alliance, Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles and Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels as a playable character.He is also playable in the strategy game Star Wars: Empire at War

Comic books[edit]

In the comic book series Star Wars: Republic, Obi-Wan Kenobi faces many grave threats while fighting against the Separatists. Among other notable storylines, he is kidnapped and tortured by Asajj Ventress before being rescued by Anakin ("Hate & Fear"), and apprehends corrupted Jedi Master Quinlan Vos ("The Dreadnaughts of Rendili"). Throughout the series, he grows increasingly wary of Palpatine's designs on the Republic—and his influence on Anakin.

In the non-canon story "Old Wounds", set a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan confronts Darth Maul on Tatooine to protect Luke. The duel ends when Owen Lars shoots and kills Maul; he then warns Obi-Wan to stay away from his nephew. Through the Force, Obi-Wan reassures Luke that he will be there for him when needed.

Cultural impact[edit]

The character is loosely inspired by General Makabe Rokurōta, a character from The Hidden Fortress, played by Toshiro Mifune (whom series creator George Lucas also considered casting as Obi-Wan Kenobi).[7] Mad magazine parodied the original film under the title Star Roars and included a character named 'Oldie Von Moldie'; a grizzled 97-year-old whose lightsaber runs on an extension cord. The Shanghai nightclub shown in the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is called "Club Obi-Wan" as George Lucas wrote both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. A real bar/club by this name existed in the Xihai district of Beijing, China but closed in the summer of 2010. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "Star Koopa" (being a spoof of Star Wars) also had its own parody of Obi-Wan called 'Obi-Wan Toadi', and the live-action segment "Zenned Out Mario" featured a parody called "Obi-Wan Cannoli". The 1998 Animaniacs episode "Star Warners" (which spoofed Star Wars) featured Slappy Squirrel portraying a parody of Obi-Wan as 'Slappy Wanna Nappy'. In the Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest", Obi-Wan Kenobi is parodied by the character Herbert. In the short film Thumb Wars, Obi-Wan is parodied as the character 'Oobedoob Benubi'. In the film, his full name is 'Oobedoob Scooby-Doobi Benubi, the silliest name in the galaxy.' In the 1977 Star Wars parody Hardware Wars, Obi-Wan is parodied by the character 'Augie Ben Doggie'.

In French Internet subculture, "Obi-Wan Kenobi" became an expression meaning "your question does not make sense", and is said when one does not know what to answer but wants to respond in an amusing way. It was popularised by Les Guignols de l'info, which made a parody of the French version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in which for every question, the fourth choice was invariably "Obi-Wan Kenobi" (and the question invariably nonsense). Humorous multiple choice questionnaires made on the internet since often featured an "Obi-Wan Kenobi" option.

TV Tropes[8] uses Obi-Wan's name for the archetype mentor figure.

In 2003, the American Film Institute selected Obi-Wan Kenobi as the 37th greatest movie hero of all time.[9] He was also listed as IGN's third greatest Star Wars character,[10] as well as one of UGO Networks's favorite heroes of all time.[11]

In 2004, the Council of the Commune Lubicz in Poland passed a resolution giving the name "Obi-Wan Kenobi" to one of the streets in Grabowiec, a small village near Toruń.[12] The street was named in 2005. The spelling of the street name, Obi-Wana Kenobiego is the genitive form of the noun in the Polish language: the street of Obi-Wan Kenobi.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • The New Essential Guide to Characters, revised edition, 2002. Daniel Wallace, Michael Sutfin, ISBN 0-345-44900-2
  • Star Wars Episode I Who's Who: A Pocket Guide to Characters of the Phantom Menace, hardcover, 1999. Ryder Windham, ISBN 0-7624-0519-8
  • Star Wars: Power of Myth, 1st edition paperback, 2000. DK Publishing, ISBN 0-7894-5591-9
  • Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 1998. David West Reynolds, ISBN 0-7894-3481-4
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 1999. David West Reynolds, ISBN 0-7894-4701-0
  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 2002. David West Reynolds, ISBN 0-7894-8588-5
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 2005. James Luceno, ISBN 0-7566-1128-8
  • Revised Core Rulebook (Star Wars Roleplaying Game), 1st edition, 2002. Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, J.D. Wiker, Steve Sansweet, ISBN 0-7869-2876-X
  • Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, 1st edition, 2000. Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, ISBN 0-7869-1793-8

External links[edit]