Star Wars’ mystical power of The Force has lost its lustre as of late. The (mostly) telekinetic power was impressive in the original trilogy, but barely used in the prequels; only Extended Universe content — not limited by the screen — seemed to go all-out on its capabilities.
In recent years, The Force has been used in a variety of ways. For example, The Last Jedi saw Luke Skywalker project himself across the galaxy to show the good-natured power of The Jedi; Leia Organa used it to protect herself from the expanse of space; Rey lifted many rocks. However, it wasn’t until Lucasfilm’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series that the Jedi’s space magic was used with real power.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is strong with The Force
Throughout the majority of Obi-Wan Kenobi, there’s very little use of The Force. After his failure to save Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, Kenobi is unable to connect with The Force, cutting him off from connecting with his old master, Qui-Gon Jinn.
The Force is used a couple of times in early episodes, namely by The Inquisitors. However, Obi-Wan successfully connects with the Jedi tool in Episode 4 when he holds back a flood — Space Moses style — in the Inquisitors’ base. While that is impressive, it’s what comes next is what really stunned fans.
Episode 5 of Obi-Wan Kenobi finally let Darth Vader off his leash. Disney has done well to make the iconic Star Wars villain more deadly than ever; his appearance showed just how brutal he can be. Kenobi absolutely one ups that.
As a transport full of rebel forces is taking off, Vader uses the force to pull it back to the ground. While not as impressive as Starkiller pulling a Star Destroyer to the ground in The Force Unleashed, it’s as big as you can go without getting ridiculous. Vader’s fantastic Force prowess is shown even further when fighting Reva. The Sith frequently uses it to block strikes, pull and push her and just generally toy with his victim.
The limited run series gives The Force some real weight that the series has lacked. This is perfectly displayed in the series’ finale, where Obi-Wan and Darth Vader fight at the height of their power.
In the battle, Vader and Obi-Wan are both expertly using The Force. Lightsaber strikes are blocked and pushed and the two veterans are constantly pulling each other around. At one point, the two fight over a colossal rock as Kenobi attempts to push it onto Vader. Vader wins, burying Kenobi with huge boulders.
Of course, Obi-Wan escapes, holding his tomb in the air before striking Vader with everything around him. It’s an impressive display, and one that we’ve only just gotten to in a franchise that’s lived for decades. It’s genuinely refreshing.
The danger of force powers
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s beautiful showcase of how powerful The Force can be is a double-edged sword. For as entertaining as the scenes are, every use of the Jedi powers will now be judged against these scenes.
Yes, Vader and Kenobi are both elderly Force users, trained for decades to use the space magic effectively. But now every director in the Star Wars franchise will want to try and one-up this display.
There’s a term in comic books and manga called “power creep”. Essentially, when you introduce a new villain or hero, they have to be more powerful than the last in order to stay relevant. This is most prevalent in Dragon Ball, the long-running 80s manga that started with an overly-strong monkey boy (obviously a remake of Journey to the West) fighting across the world. Now, Son Goku is an alien from space who can fly around in space with his “Super Sayain God” powers.
While Starkiller pulling down a Star Destroyer is incredibly cool, that’s not really something that you can do in a canon Star Wars movie, because where do you go next? Kenobi currently has a great balance of The Force, showing its usefulness in combat and its strength without getting too ridiculous. It’s perfectly balanced… as all things should be. Wait, that’s a Marvel line. It works though, right? Uh oh. I hear pitchforks.