ROADTRIPPIN’ co-hosts Robert Meyer Burnett and Mike Bawden discuss the broader implications of a question posed by an Imagination Connoisseur who asks why Obi-Wan Kenobi is such a boring character in his own series. In fact, one could ask why so many Star Wars series seem to be “running in place” and not really going anywhere with characters who don’t seem to be doing all that much. Is there a larger force at work here that no one seems to acknowledge? And where have we heard THAT before?
This “Extra” is a segment from the ROADTRIPPIN’ with RMB podcast recorded on June 17, 2022 (Episode #45).
Why does Obi-Wan keep coming up short?
Hi Rob and Mike,
This is a letter on the Kenobi series and the problems with the boring protagonist.
Obi-Wan is a boring character in the story they’ve chosen to tell. What makes characters interesting are how competent they are, how proactive they are, and how likable (or for villains how despicable) they are. What makes them interesting in the specific story that’s told are their internal conflicts and motivations.
Obi-Wan has no conflicts or strong motivations in the story they’re telling. He’s reactive rather than proactive and he’s moderately competent at best.
Compare that to Reva. She has a very interesting backstory. She is very proactive; she does stuff to get things done. She doesn’t just react to events as Obi-Wan does. She has deep internal conflicts and strong motivations. Her story basically writes itself. She is the villain’s problem. She is much more interesting than the protagonist of the story.
Leia is also more interesting than Obi-Wan because of how proactive she is. We’ve seen that in the original trilogy. She was never a damsel in distress, rather she was a distressing damsel. Her younger self is just the same and interesting because of it.
When they brainstormed the story, they probably came upon the Leia plotline and saw that as a perfect MacGuffin to get Obi-Wan away from Tatooine. They probably got stuck on that idea. But there’s nothing interesting in Obi-Wan’s character for such a plotline.
Unfortunately, Obi-Wan is the perfect Jedi, he has no internal conflicts, except for his feelings towards Anakin/Vader. And so far, that’s not a plotline that Obi-Wan has pursued. Instead, it’s Vader who pursues that plotline and because of that, he is also more interesting than Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan only reacts while his enemies act.
When making a Kenobi series, the first thing you should do is to identify what his conflicts and motivations are and make a story based on that. So far, they haven’t done that. Maybe the final episode will show us a more conflicted and proactive Obi-Wan. So far the character has been pretty boring and uninteresting.
Ewan does a great job, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Listen to Rob and Mike’s response …
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