If you’ve been paying attention to the latest Star Wars news, you’re probably aware that upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ has been delayed — reportedly in order to work on the show’s script. The online response has generally seemed to lean toward fears that the entire sci-fi saga is in danger of careening into a Sarlacc pit of obsolescence due to the ineptitude of Disney’s studio executives.
If Star Wars fans will allow me to paraphrase a line from another popular Disney cinematic universe: Is it, though?
Despite what clickbait headlines and hand-wringing pundits seem to suggest, rumors of the still-untitled Obi-Wan series’ demise remain greatly exaggerated at this point in the project’s development. Worse than these exaggerations is that at least some of the uproar regarding the show’s production delay likely has less to do with the future of Star Wars franchise, and more to do with the toxic fandom poisoning it.
As far as delays go, the decision to put the Obi-Wan series on hold at this point in the pre-production stage isn’t all that unusual. Delays are common during the early phases of development and pre-production (i.e., before cameras are officially rolling), and the likelihood of those delays making headlines is often directly related to how popular a show (or the universe it inhabits) is. It doesn’t get much bigger than Star Wars, so it’s no surprise that any news whatsoever from the latest project makes headlines — even when it’s not actually big news.
There are plenty of examples to point to even in recent TV history. Delays certainly didn’t doom the most recent season of Stranger Things, for instance, and we can also look at a parallel “star” project, Star Trek: Discovery as a prime reason not to worry. The latter show seemed destined to crash and burn after nearly a year of delays, only to become a huge critical and commercial success when it finally premiered.
Even Obi-Wan himself, Ewan McGregor, played down the tempest in a teapot that the delays have quickly become.
“Instead of shooting this August, they just want to start shooting in January, that’s all,” he told IGN a day after the delays made headlines. “Nothing more dramatic than that. It often happens in projects, they just wanted to push [production] to next year. It will have the same release date.”
Given that the series didn’t have an official premiere date or even a title at this early stage, it isn’t likely that the delay will have any profound effect on the show’s launch, which almost certainly has a cushion built in to allow for these kinds of changes. Much like the reshoots that occur late in many films’ production cycles — and often lead to similarly anxious headlines and exaggerated concern — delays tend to be the norm rather than the exception.
That’s not to say there’s nothing unusual surrounding the hold Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy reportedly put on the series.
While it’s common for scripts to undergo significant changes before, during, and even after cameras are rolling, if reports indicating that the entire script was getting a rewrite prove true, that would certainly be a break from typical happenings at this stage. But is it a bad turn of events in the long term? Probably not. In fact, it may well be good news.
Without a major movie release on the horizon and with a full season of breakout hit The Mandalorian in the rearview mirror, it makes sense that Kennedy and the creative team at Lucasfilm might want to re-evaluate where the Obi-Wan series will take the saga and incorporate the lessons learned from both the recent sequel trilogy and The Mandalorian. The series already has its marquee star attached and a talented, in-demand director locked-in behind the camera, so giving the project another pass might be exactly what’s necessary to make the best use of both those assets.
Toxicity rears its head
In fact, given that one of the most common complaints about the sequel trilogy involved a seeming lack of cohesiveness across all three films, it’s reasonable to wonder where all of the anxiety regarding the studio’s decision to give this aspect of the Obi-Wan series more attention is coming from.
Although a significant portion of the buzz surrounding the delays can be attributed to the high profile of all things Star Wars, naturally, the bantha in the room continues to be a small but frustratingly toxic segment of the sci-fi saga’s fandom.
As the head of Lucasfilm, Kennedy has long been a focal point for toxic fans who decry the increased diversity of the franchise’s cast and its most prominent characters and themes. From putting a female character front and center in the sequel trilogy to simply providing more representation of non-white or LGBTQ characters in the franchise, the studio’s lean toward inclusivity has been under increasing levels of assault by toxic segments of Star Wars fandom in recent years. Cast members have been harassed off social media by racist, sexist trolls while everyone from Kennedy herself to journalists opining about the recent franchise releases have been bullied and threatened.
The delays for the Obi-Wan series have given the trolls another log to throw on that fire, and seeing “Kathleen Kennedy” become a trending topic on Twitter in the hours following the news makes it painfully obvious that this particular non-scandal afforded them another opportunity to fan those flames.
So, if you’re prone to panic, do yourself a favor and take a moment to catch your breath. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the delay uproar and end-is-nigh sentiment that the news and various hot takes imply, but the fact remains that what’s going on with the Obi-Wan series is nothing to be worried about at this point. Things could certainly change for the worse in the future, of course, but for now, all signs still point to the Star Wars saga being in capable hands.
In the end, if it’s a choice between siding with internet trolls or having faith in the studio that gave us Baby Yoda, I’ll sit back, be patient, and opt for the latter — and you should, too.
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