Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader have fought four times on-screen, but could there be a forgotten Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader fight?
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader have fought four times on-screen, but the Star Wars canon suggests there is one unseen battle between former master and apprentice. 17 years after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars got to revisit two of its most important characters, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Of course, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader first appeared in the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, yet most of their history together ended being fleshed out in the prequels.
The Star Wars prequels answered some of the questions raised by The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s stories in Episodes I, II, and III also created more mysteries regarding Darth Vader’s past and how it all tied with the original trilogy. For example, it was never clear whether Obi-Wan and Darth Vader had met between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Although this was settled in Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Return of the Jedi Obi-Wan mystery remained.
Return Of The Jedi Sets Up An Untold Obi-Wan/Vader Confrontation
In Return of the Jedi, when Luke and Obi-Wan’s Force ghost are talking about Luke’s father, Obi-Wan says that he “also thought he could be turned back to the good side” but that “it couldn’t be done.” The problem, however, is that none of the Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader fights shown in the Star Wars canon see Obi-Wan trying to turn Anakin back to the good side. In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin had just been named Darth Vader by Darth Sidious, and Obi-Wan was more interested in stopping Anakin than redeeming him. Obi-Wan also did not try to save Anakin in either of their Obi-Wan Kenobi rematches.
There was also no attempt by Obi-Wan to redeem Darth Vader in their ultimate confrontation at the Death Star. Therefore, 40 years after Return of the Jedi, what exactly Obi-Wan was referring to remains a Star Wars canon mystery. Obi-Wan’s line in Return of the Jedi suggested there was at least one more encounter between the Jedi Master and Darth Vader, and that, unlike all the other times, Obi-Wan believed Anakin Skywalker could be saved. Though Return of the Jedi has been retconned a few times in the Star Wars canon, such as Leia’s memories from her mother, Obi-Wan’s line is a significant headscratcher.
Can Return Of The Jedi’s Duel Fit With Canon?
Once it was announced that Obi-Wan Kenobi would feature at least one battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, it seemed obvious that the show would somehow reference Obi-Wan’s Return of the Jedi line. Obi-Wan Kenobi would feature Obi-Wan seeing Darth Vader, the “machine”, for the first time, meaning that it would be the perfect opportunity for Obi-Wan to at least believe that Anakin could be saved. However, that is not really what happened. Obi-Wan did not try to save Anakin Skywalker in Obi-Wan Kenobi, which makes the Return of the Jedi line even more tricky in terms of the Star Wars canon.
Obi-Wan Kenobi actually sees Obi-Wan coming to terms with Anakin’s fall to the dark side. Just like Vader said, he was not Obi-Wan’s failure. Obi-Wan admitted that Anakin Skywalker was dead, and even called Darth Vader “Darth” in an ironic tone. As such, it is difficult to imagine that Obi-Wan would go back to his mind to try to save Anakin only to give up again ahead of the events of A New Hope. It’s important to remember, though, that Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place nine years before A New Hope, so there is room for more stories with Vader and Obi-Wan.
Was Obi-Wan Kenobi Lying To Luke (Again)?
The easiest way to explain Obi-Wan’s line in Return of the Jedi is to assume that Obi-Wan was lying to Luke – again. Obi-Wan initially told Luke in A New Hope that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father, a moment that was retconned in The Empire Strikes Back and repurposed in Return of the Jedi with the “from a certain point of view” line. Obi-Wan also omitted the fact that Luke and Leia were twins despite having plenty of opportunities to tell them, at least in-universe. As such, it would be no surprise if Obi-Wan was lying to Luke again.
Obi-Wan was trying to convince Luke to kill Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. The Jedi Master believed that Anakin could no longer be saved and that killing Darth Vader was the only way for the Rebel Alliance to defeat the Emperor. Luke, however, was adamant about trying to save his father. Obi-Wan did not want to risk Luke falling to the dark side and becoming Emperor Palpatine’s new apprentice, meaning he had to convince Luke that trying to redeem Darth Vader was worthless. Obi-Wan must have indeed believed Anakin could be saved at some point in Star Wars, but he gave up way quicker than Luke.