Obi-Wan Kenobi called himself “Old Ben” while he lived on Tatooine – and Star Wars has finally made the explanation for this name canon again.
Star Wars has finally made the Legends origin of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s alias “Ben” canon. When two droids arrived on the desert planet of Tatooine in the first Star Wars movie, they carried with them a message for General Obi-Wan Kenobi. The young Luke Skywalker guessed they might be referring to “Old Ben Kenobi,” a man he considered simply to be a strange hermit who lived out beyond the Dune Sea. He had no idea this man was actually an aged Jedi Master, who had spent the last couple of decades watching over Luke himself.
Obi-Wan had gone by the name Ben before, as seen canonically in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In the old Expanded Universe, a.k.a. Legends, it was an alias he was particularly fond of; according to John Jackson Miller’s novel Kenobi, he’d been given the nickname by the Duchess Satine of Mandalore, a woman Obi-Wan had fallen in love with back when he was just a Padawan. With the Jedi long gone, Obi-Wan couldn’t help looking back at his life and remembering her with affection, honoring her by taking on that name. But the canonicity of the Legends origin of the name was called into question when Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012. However, it seems this particular aspect of Obi-Wan’s backstory is being restored once again.
Lucasfilm has released an excerpt from Mike Chen’s upcoming Star Wars novel Brotherhood, which is set shortly after the beginning of the Clone Wars. It sees Obi-Wan visit his old friend (and underworld informant) Dex, who points him to recent broadcasts of his old flame Satine of Mandalore. “Used to call you Ben, for some reason,” Dex recalled with a chuckle. It seems Lucasfilm has decided this remains the perfect explanation for Obi-Wan’s “Ben” alias.
There’s something quite heartbreaking about this revelation. It hints at the depths of regret Obi-Wan felt during his exile on Tatooine, suggesting he looked back with sorrow and wished he’d chosen a different path for his life. Obi-Wan blamed himself for Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side, and he presumably wondered how different the galaxy would be had he simply left the Jedi all those years ago. The choice of this name also indicates something about Obi-Wan’s self-identity after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith; it’s significant he now went by the name he would have had if he had chosen a different path, hinting for a time at least he considered himself to no longer be a Jedi at all.
The name’s origin also serves as a reminder that Obi-Wan and Anakin were more alike than either would have admitted. There’s a fascinating parallel between Obi-Wan’s romance with Satine and Anakin’s marriage to Padmé, with Obi-Wan showing more integrity than his apprentice due to his desire to commit to one path over another. Ironically, as the years passed, both Obi-Wan and Anakin found themselves haunted by memories of past loves. Darth Vader went to incredible effort to try to bring Padmé back from the dead, while Obi-Wan chose the harder path of living with a constant reminder of Satine. Every time he was called “Ben,” he would have known who had first called him by that name. And so, for Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Star Wars saga really was one of tragedy.
More: Genius Star Wars Theory Finally Fixes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Age Plot Hole
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