Everything To Watch (And Read And Play) Before Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi has a long history. As a character from the original "Star Wars" film, he's been around since the beginning and, as one of the older characters in that film, he had the longest history there.

When we're first introduced to him, we see him in exile on Tatooine, watching over Luke Skywalker in case the Sith discovered him, talking about his glory days as a Jedi Knight. We knew he'd been through hell, walking through the desert, but we'd never quite understood the totality of his story. Old Ben sacrificed himself for the good of the galaxy, to help Luke Skywalker escape the Death Star with the plans that would destroy it. Over the intervening 43 years, we've been given more and more of Obi-Wan's saga. At the end of this month, we'll see yet another chapter with "Obi-Wan Kenobi" on Disney+, a six-part series that tells a tale between the original trilogy of "Star Wars" films and the prequel trilogy.

With all of the material that's come out, it can sometimes be difficult to know what you need to watch, read, or play for the context you want for the story to have its maximum impact. Obviously, the bare minimum is going to be the first six "Star Wars" films. But I think we can all assume we've watched those (though there's never a wrong time to rewatch them). For those of us who want to dive deeper into the context of what we'll want to know, this is the place for you.

The Clone Wars

George Lucas and Dave Filoni expanded on the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, in the critically acclaimed show "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Coursing through seven seasons across more than a decade, the show added context and complications to Kenobi, his moral center, and the trials he faced. Particular arcs to watch include the first trilogy of Mandalorian episodes in season 2, "The Mandalore Plot," "Voyage of Tempation," and "The Duchess of Mandalore." These episodes show us that Obi-Wan had a past with a woman that would have had him leave the Jedi order entirely and figure into later episodes. Obi-Wan Kenobi's interactions with Darth Maul intertwine with this story as well, ending in tragedy as they always do. In fact, with Darth Maul hellbent on revenge against Kenobi, all of the episodes of "The Clone Wars" with Darth Maul and Death Watch make those episodes practically mandatory to watch for "Obi-Wan Kenobi" as well as "The Mandalorian."

The biggest thing a complete rewatch of "The Clone Wars" does, though, is tighten the connection between Anakin and Obi-Wan. The pair of them had a contentious relationship as master and padawan, but as equals they develop into true brothers. "The Clone Wars" really charts the ups of their relationship, making Obi-Wan's continued confrontations with his former apprentice all the more heartbreaking.

Star Wars comics and books

There are more wisps of Obi-Wan Kenobi's story to be found in the pages of Marvel comics. Most recently, a limited series started this week with Obi-Wan at the center. These comics are framed around Old Ben in the desert, writing in his journal, reminiscing about his past. The first issue tells a story of Obi-Wan as a youngling, on the eve of the Gathering, before he got his lightsaber crystal. The second issue promises an adventure with his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. That relationship between master and apprentice is further explored in Claudia Gray's terrific novel "Master and Apprentice" as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon struggle with their different philosophies, all the while getting hints of Count Dooku's turn to the dark side. The story is rife with political intrigue and excellent moments across characters. It's definitely worth reading.

Going back to the Marvel "Star Wars" series that relaunched with Jason Aaron as a writer, there are more excerpts from Obi-Wan Kenobi's journal that Luke Skywalker finds. These document everything from conflicts with Uncle Owen to a knock-down fight with Black Krrsantan, made even more famous in "The Book of Boba Fett." These hints of Obi-Wan's time on Tatooine tell the story of a man who just can't stay out of trouble. You can take the Jedi out of the galaxy, but you can't take the Jedi out of Obi-Wan.

The Inquisitors

The villains in the new "Obi-Wan Kenobi" show — aside from Darth Vader — appear to be the Inquisitors. For those who don't know, the Inquisitors were users of the dark side of the Force who were trained to hunt down the remnants of the Jedi. Some were former Jedi themselves, others were merely touched by the dark side. Though they work for the Sith and use red lightsabers, they are, themselves, not Sith. There can only be two Sith. To watch the origin of the Inquisitors in their early days after the events of "Revenge of the Sith," you're going to want to turn to Charles Soule's 2017 "Darth Vader" comics series from Marvel. That documents those early days and shows what a powerful force the Inquisitors can be.

Another great resource to delve into the Inquisitors would be the video game "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order." First released in 2019, "Fallen Order" tells the tale of a former Jedi padawan on his journey back to the ways of the Force, hunted by the Inquisitors the entire time. The game culminates in a confrontation on the moon of Nur in the Mustafar system. There, one can find the Fortress Inquisitors, headquarters of the order. This underwater facility features prominently in the trailer for "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and playing the game will certainly add gravitas to any scenes set there.

Star Wars Rebels and the Grand Inquisitor

The first season of "Star Wars Rebels" gives us a look at the Grand Inquisitor, who seems to be the chief villain in "Obi-Wan Kenobi." A former Jedi Temple Guard who turned against the Jedi order, he's voiced in the cartoon by Jason Isaacs. On "Obi-Wan Kenobi," actor Rupert Friend plays the part with what seems to be an equal menace.

Subsequent seasons of the show introduce us to other members of the Inquisitors, including the Fifth Brother who is played by Sung Kang on "Obi-Wan Kenobi." On "Rebels" the Fifth Brother was teamed up with Seventh Sister, voiced by none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Although Obi-Wan Kenobi's single appearance on "Star Wars Rebels" takes place after the events of the television show, it is definitely worth your time. The episode in the third season, "Twin Suns," ties up his long storyline with Darth Maul and gives us another look at a more peaceful moment in his mission to protect a young Luke Skywalker.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" begins streaming with two episodes on Disney+ on May 27, 2022.