While fan service can be useful in any given movie or TV show, Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow explained how there is one big problem with using it.
The use, or overuse, of fan service has been a contentious issue in the world of pop culture franchises, especially recent movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home bringing back characters and actors from past legacy projects as a means to appease audiences.
Loki writer Michael Waldron addressed the same topic, noting that his own team focused on "trusting their own instincts" rather than listening solely to what the fans want to happen, ensuring the most cohesive story possible from start to finish.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Director on Fan Service
Speaking with Variety, Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow discussed some of her decisions to include or exclude certain characters and plot points in the show, specifically touching on the idea of fan service.
Chow indicated that the biggest issue with the inclusion of fan service is when the act of incorporating it is solely driving the decision for its inclusion, explaining that she did not want to use fan service "just for the sake of [it]."
Instead, Chow ensured that character was put at the forefront, explaining that examining this naturally led to the inclusion of Liam Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn as it "means something to the character of Obi-Wan:"
"We didn’t want to do anything just for the sake of fan service. We just, as much as possible, tried to focus on the character of Obi-Wan and go, 'What’s important to him in his life? Who are the people that are meaningful to him? What is this journey? And what’s the most honest journey of that?' Obviously, that takes us to people like Liam Neeson. But really, for us, we were trying not to just put Qui-Gon in for the sake of Qui-Gon, but really because it means something to the character of Obi-Wan."
Working hard to honor the original story while keeping things fresh, she touched on bringing in "big legacy characters" like Qui-Gon while trying to merge the stories in the original trilogy and prequel trilogy together:
"That was definitely the trickiest aspect of this entire project. We did have these big legacy characters, and we were telling a story that’s in the middle of two trilogies. So we were trying to be very respectful to make sure that we didn’t break the canon, and to respect the legacy of it, while also having a new story to tell and having a new vision for it. That was the line that we were trying to walk throughout the whole show of trying to merge those two aspects."
In fact, Gilroy went even further in saying that he "didn’t want to do anything that was fan service" at all, focusing on making the series as "real and honest" as possible:
"We didn’t want to do anything that was fan service. We never wanted to have anything… the mandate in the very beginning was that it would be as absolutely non-cynical as it could possibly be, that the show would just be real and honest."
While the series did introduce characters from the movies like Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera, they were included based on necessity for the story and since there was "something for them to really do" in the show:
"We will be introducing people along the way. I don’t think it’s any secret that Forest Whitaker is in the show… Saw Gerrera is in the show. There will be some other people. But when we bring them, we bring them because we need them and because there’s really some protein there, there’s something for them to really do."
Will Fan Service Be Used in Potential Obi-Wan Season 2?
Of course, just because Obi-Wan Kenobi's team avoided relying on blatant fan service doesn't mean that Season 1 didn't use it at all.
And with the likelihood being that Star Wars would bring similarly famous moments into a possible Season 2 of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the real question right now is whether that season will ever come to fruition.
The show was initially developed as a limited story that would only run for six episodes, giving Ewan McGregor his swan song, with some of the show's stars feeling confident that this will remain the case moving forward.
But in recent weeks, Deborah Chow herself "[doesn't] think it’s off the board" for Season 2 to be officially made, commenting that she and McGregor already have ideas flowing for if and when it moves further along.
All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are now streaming on Disney+.