Wall-E director Andrew Stanton, who co-wrote the last two episodes of Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi, have had some challenges with the limitations working with the Star Wars series regarding the canon story.
Lucasfilm and Disney’s series Obi-Wan Kenobi finished its six episodes a few months ago. While it didn’t take the world by storm, it was still a very popular show in its own right.
Kenobi, of course, saw Ewan McGregor’s legendary Jedi Master take on Darth Vader in a high-stakes rematch. The entire season raced toward the former friends’ fateful lightsaber clash on an unnamed planet.
Now, the Star Wars franchise’s sense of canon has always been somewhat free-flowing, but the live-action properties, at least, seem to be made to adhere to a strict sense of continuity. And it seems that Andrew Stanton, who helped write Kenobihis fifth and sixth chapters, took some issue with these limitations.
Andrew Stanton on Writing for Star Wars
Two-time Oscar-winning director Andrew Stanton, who specially directed Wall-E and Mission Nemo, was co-author on the last two Obi-Wan Kenobi episodes. He noted to Gizmodo that being tied to established Star Wars canon was both “the blessing and the curse” when discussing his experience with Lucasfilm:
“That was the blessing and the curse of it. It’s like, you wonder you can write ‘Vader says’ this and ‘Kenobi says’ that. You stop and say ‘I can’t believe I’m actually getting paid to write this. I can’t believe these words can be said.’ But then another part of you, it has to go through such a rigorous “does it fit the canon?” And I feel like it’s bittersweet. [The reason that happens is] because people care, but it also doesn’t allow, sometimes, things to venture beyond what they maybe should to tell a better story. So that can sometimes really inhibit what I think are better narrative options.”
Stanton went on to add that he was sometimes “frustrated” during the writing process due to such continuity constraints. He referred Andor as easier to write for, with that show existing in one “safe place” in continuity.
“And so I was frustrated sometimes — not a lot — but I just felt like it wasn’t as conducive to [the story]. I love it when something like Andor is in a safe place. And it can only do what it wants. But I felt, you know, Joby [Harold, Obi-Wan Kenobi co-writer and executive producer], to his credit, kept the torch alive and kept trying to thread the needle so history wouldn’t suffer, but it would please all the people trying to keep it in the canon. But I have some moments in there that I’m very happy with.”
Is Star Wars’ continuity harming the future?
Star Wars, as a franchise, has literally been around for 45 years. And throughout that time, many other creators and visionaries besides George Lucas have been able to tell stories in a galaxy far, far away. This has been especially true since the Disney acquisition.
But some of these creators have found it limiting due to Lucasfilm wanting Star Wars to stay true to a specific style and continuity. This thinking has led to the dismissal of a surprising number of directors, perhaps most notably Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were let go from Solo for apparently playing things too fast and loose.
Having a sense of canon, continuity and coherence is very important in any big name media franchise. But when it comes at the expense of creative freedom from some of the top talent in the industry, then maybe it’s time to think again.
Reason Andor is so praised is that it plays a little outside the box and mixes together the Star Wars “house style.” Hopefully Lucasfilm takes notice Andor‘s accolades and pass on what they have learned to future franchise installments.
All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi is available for streaming on Disney+.