Like clockwork, a new piece of Star Wars information surfaced on May the Fourth this year: a trailer for the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Previous Star Wars Day announcements have included the cowriting and direction of a future Star Wars film by Taika Waititi and the launch of a Baby Yoda cereal by General Mills. Additionally, it’s a day for all types of fan activities, including crafting, cosplay, and movie marathons.
But as time goes on, the celebration seems more and more like a marketing ploy—a once-grassroots fan holiday that has been transformed into a news hook for a trailer for a program that few people seem very excited about.
A brief clarification before we proceed Yes, WIRED takes part in May the Fourth as much as any other media outlet and has for as long as I can remember (in a galaxy far, far away). Additionally, despite what my feeds suggest, there might be people who are much more enthusiastic about Obi-Wan than I am.
But my larger argument is that the future of the franchise has seemed like watching the Millennium Falcon fly into hyperdrive since The Mandalorian, or even since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: lots of dazzling lights and action, but hard to see where it’s headed. The fact that Star Wars is, very honestly, experiencing a bit of a slump has something to do with this.
Following the Mandalorian’s unexpected popularity, Lucasfilm has produced a large number of spin-off series, all of which have received about the same level of acclaim. The Bad Batch was good, but perhaps since it is an animated series, it doesn’t have the same crossover appeal as Mando. The Book of Boba Fett, which is essentially about one of the most cherished figures in the fanbase, was alright.
Then there is Obi-Wan, which revives a popular character yet again, but this time it revives the Ewan McGregor-portrayed Obi-Wan from the less well-liked prequel trilogy. Even while this teaser suggests greater cinematic thrills (and Darth Vader moments) than past series have had, anything may happen. The Rise of Skywalker was released about three years ago, and even the release date for the following major motion picture, Rogue Squadron, directed by Patty Jenkins, is somewhat uncertain until December 2023. Meanwhile, everything about Star Wars seems to be operating automatically.
There is something to be claimed for the fact that each of these releases came at a different moment than those of the past. Though it was a bit of a letdown for the more current trilogy of films to end on, Rise of Skywalker was released just months before Covid-19. The 2020 US presidential election, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and the Ukrainian war have all occurred since then.
The franchise might have occasionally been a diversion, but it also felt less interesting than the actual world. Because of a leaked draught opinion that the US Supreme Court could decide to overturn, an Obi-Wan trailer doesn’t seem as powerful.