This Alternate 'Star Wars: A New Hope' Ending For Obi-Wan Wouldn't Have Worked & Here's Why
If you're a dedicated Star Wars fan who's just trying to kill time between movies, you've probably kept an eye on actor Peter Mahew's Twitter account recently. As the man behind Chewbacca, Mahew has been posting the original Star Wars script page by page, and one recent share has prompted quite the revelation. Apparently, Obi-Wan Kenobi wasn't supposed to die during his lightsaber duel with Vader... which would've changed the whole series if it had come to pass. But, even though seeing Obi-Wan die was devastating as a viewer, I'm honestly happy it happened in the series. It needed to.
OK, just in case you think I'm a monster who wishes doom upon the beloved Jedi master, allow me to explain.
When we're introduced to Obi-Wan (or "Ben," as Luke insists on calling him) he instantaneously becomes a sort of father figure. After Luke's aunt and uncle are unceremoniously burnt into a crisp, Obi-Wan takes Luke under his wing and introduces Luke to a world where the flaxen-haired farm boy is actually relevant and has the potential to be powerful. Subsequently, Luke latches onto him very tightly, and when he sees Obi-Wan struck down before his eyes, he totally freaks. Obi-Wan's death, and moreover, witnessing Obi-Wan's death, is necessary for Luke's growth... and necessary to motivate him.
After years of being sheltered and shielded from his past, Luke was finally getting answers from this hooded sage. Obi-Wan was taking him away from the droll life of being a moisture farmer (whatever that means) and teaching him what his true path is: the path of a Jedi. When Obi-Wan is struck down, Luke is now left completely alone and without any guidance. He has to be his own hero, he has to help the Rebels destroy the death star, and he has to independently seek out Yoda to finish his training (thanks to the urging of force ghost Obi-Wan).
Could Luke have been motivated by the loss of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru? I mean, theoretically he should be far more incensed by that. But there's definitely something about Obi-Wan's weird nebulous connection to Luke's father that strikes hard. And when you look at the full Star Wars saga and see that Obi-Wan kind-of, sort-of killed Anakin Skywalker on that weird fire planet, it's very sickly poetic that Anakin, now in the robotic guise of Vader, is the one to slay Obi-Wan.
Truth be told, the audience's perspective is just as, if not significantly more, important here. When the movie came out back in 1977, nobody could've anticipated that the Merlin-esque figure was going to bite the big one at the end of the first movie. Luke's shock was palpable and felt throughout the audience; it was evident that this Darth Vader guy was not messing around, as if the whole destroying-an-entire-planet-for-funzies thing wasn't enough. Audiences, too, had latched onto this character — and now he was gone, literally vanishing into thin air. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?
It's very plausible that without that power move, there wouldn't have even been enough interest to push for a sequel... and we would be left with a single Star Wars film that would perhaps only garner a cult following. Think about what a dark universe we'd be left with. Think about what a dark Comic-Con we'd be left with!
No, friends, he had to die in A New Hope. Because the sacrifice really pushed the Star Wars saga forward, creatively and probably literally. So for that, rest in peace, Obi-Wan, and thank you.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Lucasfilm; Giphy (2)