Why Obi-Wan Is Much Stronger Than We Think
Obi-Wan Kenobi's History
In a galaxy far far away, wise mentor Obi-Wan sets Luke Skywalker on the path to becoming a Jedi, periodically aiding the Rebel throughout the original trilogy. In the three prequels, we further explore Obi-Wan's rise from Padawan to Jedi Master. Though Anakin Skywalker receives the focus of these movies, Obi-Wan demonstrates an ever-increasing level of skill to rival the strongest of Jedi.
Let's examine Obi-Wan's encounters through each film to discover why he's the most underrated Jedi in Star Wars!
Versus Darth Maul
Darth Maul is best remembered as one of the redeeming factors of the often-ridiculed Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Stoic yet furious, Maul viciously duels against Jedi Master Qui-Gon and Padawan Obi-Wan at the same time—and won. Maul separates the two Jedi, impales Qui-Gon, then battles and disarms Kenobi, who escapes only through Maul's arrogance exposing an opening.
Obi-Wan was outdueled, true. But he held his own against the much more experienced Darth Maul—heck, he did better than Qui-Gon (who was widely regarded as one of the strongest Jedi Masters). Obi-Wan at least managed to slice off half of Maul's saber and land a kick before being disarmed.
The bottom line is that despite being a mere Padawan of 25, Obi-Wan performed better than a veteran Jedi against a skilled Sith, even defeating his foe with a stroke of ingenuity.
Versus Count Dooku
Count Dooku was regarded as one of the best Jedi Masters (and was once Yoda's Padawan and Qui-Gon's Master) before leaving the Order and secretly becoming a Sith Lord. Obi-Wan ends up battling his Master's Master twice. These are Kenobi's worst performances, as he loses both contests, but even so he still impresses with his swordsmanship:
In Episode 2:
In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan has the sense to realize he'll need help against a seasoned blademaster like Dooku, and attempts to flank Dooku with apprentice Anakin. Ignoring Obi-Wan's strategy, Anakin foolishly rushes Dooku, who incapacitates him, leaving Obi-Wan to duel alone. Dooku overcomes Obi-Wan without much trouble, but consider several redeeming factors for the Jedi Knight:
- Obi-Wan's blade style Soresu (Form 3) matches very poorly against Dooku's Makashi (Form 2), giving him a substantial disadvantage.
- Obi-Wan held Dooku off long enough for Anakin to recover, saving them both.
- Even when wounded, Obi-Wan aids Anakin by tossing him his blade, allowing the younger Jedi to temporarily put Dooku on the defensive.
In Episode 3:
I won't lie, this is Obi-Wan's worst showing. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan (now a Jedi Master) and Anakin again challenge Dooku, this time wisely attacking together. Dooku narrowly manages to incapacitate Obi-Wan before being slain by Anakin. Not Kenobi's best battle, but here are more atoning factors to consider:
- Again, Obi-Wan's Soresu is a bad matchup against Dooku's Makashi; Anakin's Djem So (Form 5) works much better against it.
- Obi-Wan eliminates the two Super Battle Droids Dooku used as backup.
- Arguably, plot convenience is what really topples Obi-Wan. The battle becomes more tense when he falls, and paves the path for Palpatine to convince Anakin to execute Dooku.
- Speaking of Palpatine (secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious), you could argue he subtly influenced the battle to hinder Kenobi and remove him from the fight.
While a good swordsman can potentially overcome a style disadvantage, some forms simply trump others. Nevertheless, Obi-Wan still manages to test the experienced Dooku and provide support through saber-giving or droid destruction.
Versus General Grievous
Later in Episode 3, Obi-Wan faces the Separatist warrior General Grievous, renowned for killing Jedi and taking their swords as trophies. Despite his foe's mechanically-enhanced prowess, Obi-Wan quickly outduels Grievous, then ends up incinerating him with a blaster. Here are further reasons Obi-Wan impresses during this scenario:
- The Jedi Council specifically chose Obi-Wan to battle Grievous, selecting him over other fierce Jedi like Mace Windu. They also trusted Kenobi to succeed without needing Anakin as backup.
- Obi-Wan ends the contest surprisingly quickly, rapidly severing many of his foe's limbs.
- After realizing he's losing, Grievous flees the battle, only for Obi-Wan to pursue him. During the chase, Obi-Wan loses his lightsaber, but still manages to overcome Grievous when he catches him.
Versus Darth Vader
Obi-Wan faces his fallen apprentice Darth Vader twice, first in Revenge of the Sith and 19 years later in A New Hope.
In Episode 3:
Here Anakin Skywalker is only 22, but his incredible Force abilities provide the strength of a Jedi Master, proven when he overcomes Count Dooku. In a titanic clash over the fiery planet of Mustafar, Obi-Wan barely defeats the Chosen One, badly maiming Skywalker and leaving him for dead.
Not much else to say about this impressive win. Neither Soresu nor Djem So holds an advantage against the other, leaving this contest to be decided purely on skill. Obi-Wan successfully wears down his aggressive opponent, exploiting a weakness Skywalker exposes during a risky attack.
In Episode 4:
Now an elderly man, Obi-Wan battles Darth Vader aboard the Empire's Death Star. Despite facing a skilled Sith aboard an enemy stronghold, Obi-Wan demonstrates an impressive level of tranquility and confidence. Eventually, he lets Vader cut him in half, believing himself to be of more use to Luke from beyond the grave.
Considering Obi-Wan allows Vader to finish him, it's difficult to say who would have won had the match continued. Vader likely has more physical strength, but his connection to the Force is reduced thanks to being nearly half-machine. Obi-Wan is aging, but fights craftily. I'd love to hear your thoughts on who would have emerged victorious!
Who would have won had the match in Episode 4 continued?
Even as a young Jedi, Obi-Wan displayed incredible intuitive abilities:
- Early in Episode 1, he senses an "elusive" presence, likely referring to the hitherto unrevealed Sith Lords looming in the shadows. He also (correctly) notes the danger in Anakin's training.
- In Episode 2, he and Anakin have a brief discussion on Chancelleor Palpatine (secretly Darth Sidious), where Obi-Wan notes Palpatine's manipulative abilities.
- In Episode 3, Obi-Wan opposes his fellow Jedi Council members' suggestion of using Anakin to spy on Palpatine, knowing the deed will make Anakin lose trust in the Jedi. Unfortunately, the Council didn't listen.
In an era where darkness is spreading and Jedi are hunted, Obi-Wan duels every single Sith except Sidious, as well as General Grievous, and manages to perish in a manner of his choosing. He never faltered in his stalwart pursuit of justice, earned a spot on the Jedi Council at a remarkably young age, and can be shown to dwell in the league of elite warriors like Yoda:
- Count Dooku is said to be on par with Yoda and Mace Windu
- Anakin defeats Dooku
- Obi-Wan defeats Anakin
- Therefore, Obi-Wan is also on par with Yoda and Windu
Admittedly, we're simplifying matters, and there are more factors to consider, like his match against Jango Fett (who was aided by Boba) or his impressive duel against Maul in the show Star Wars Rebels. But for brevity's sake, I'll end things here, hopefully convincing you that the Force is indeed with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
© 2017 Jeremy Gill