That’s been one of many ongoing debates among the fandom since Disney popularized the concept of “legacy sequels” that act as both spiritual remakes and successors to beloved classics, revisiting well-known lore for nostalgia’s sake (or at times to overexplain it). But in a way, Lucas did this first too with the Prequel Trilogy and additions like midi-chlorians being responsible for the Force.
Of course, not all attempts to go back to the A New Hope well have been creatively unsuccessful. While in 2014, it would have been easy to assume Rogue One was the obvious cash grab over The Force Awakens, time has ultimately been much kinder to the former than the latter. Indeed, the A New Hope prequel that tells the story of the Rebels who stole the Death Star plans, Lucas’ famous MacGuffin from 1977, ends up being a better and surprisingly more original film that also adds interesting new context for its predecessor.
None of this ever actually needed explaining, but Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor’s suicide mission adds more urgency and a tinge of tragedy to the proceedings of A New Hope. Now that you know what getting those plans cost, you want more than ever for Princess Leia to get that MacGuffin to Yavin IV. Some fans will also be quick to point out that Rogue One‘s iconic Vader hallway scene helped revitalize the Sith Lord’s scary presence after his comical “no” lament at the end of the Prequel Trilogy.
In other words, Rogue One feels additive to what came before in a way that The Force Awakens really doesn’t. That’s not to say Episode VII didn’t do other things correctly. Rey, Finn, and Poe are exciting characters, but they deserved better than a movie that doesn’t so much add to the legacy of A New Hope as straight up copy it.
And now, fans must also have this same discussion about Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Disney+ series that, like Rogue One, seeks to flesh out other aspects of A New Hope‘s lore, primarily those pertaining to the titular Jedi’s exile on Tatooine, how he learns Anakin had become Darth Vader, and his first meeting with Luke. All this, while also wrapping up storylines from the Prequels, such as how Obi-Wan finds peace after Order 66 and Anakin’s fall to the dark side, and finally reconnects with his old master Qui-Gon Jinn.
Some of this certainly falls into the category of “overexplaining,” like when the show has Darth Vader reassure Obi-Wan that it wasn’t the Jedi Master who killed Anakin but the Sith lord himself as a way to absolve old Ben for lying to Luke about his father’s true fate in the movies. In an alternate universe, Obi-Wan could now say “Hey, that’s what your dad told me,” to Luke in that pivotal scene from Return of the Jedi. But an explanation wasn’t necessary back in 1983, or even an interesting storytelling choice, as it arguably robs that Original Trilogy plotline of the mystique of “from a certain point of view.” Isn’t it far more captivating to see how old Ben still struggles with his own off-screen history, how he is imperfect as a mentor, and maybe even willing to manipulate Luke a bit for the sake of the galaxy?