I came across a Star Wars meme recently that got me thinking about Attack of the Clones. The film is already widely regarded as the worst of the entire saga, for a number of reasons. (Stiff acting and utterly terrible dialogue come to mind.) From a pure storytelling perspective, however, there’s another reason why the film let us down. That reason, when you think about it, is actually saddening. Episode II, from a certain point of view, places some hefty blame for the Clone Wars squarely on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s shoulders.
Now I don’t want to besmirch Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi by any means. He is, after all, the most beloved character of the prequels. So much so, in fact, that he’s still getting his own, stand-alone series on Disney+. But…. Obi-Wan could have played a much more positive role in Attack of the Clones. In fact, he could very well have been pivotal in preventing the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire. It all boils down to his personal knowledge of, and interaction with, Jango Fett.
Did the Empire rise because of Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones?
The Jedi Council, as we know, sent Obi-Wan to Kamino to investigate the assassination attempt on Padmé Amidala. That led him to discover the clone army, and its genetic model, Jango Fett. Sure, Obi-Wan communicated that to the Council, and that should have sent up red flags as it was. But it wasn’t until Obi-Wan arrived on Geonosis that things should have really fallen into place.
Remember that, at least from what we saw on screen in Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan never described Jango Fett to the other Jedi. He only told them of “a bounty hunter called Jango Fett.” No one knew what he looked like. Thus, until Geonosis, the connection between Jango and the Separatists was tenuous. There, however, Jango Fett stood side by side with Dooku. Obi-Wan saw them together, as did the rest of the Jedi. Yet….
There’s no indication that Obi-Wan ever acted on the now concrete connection between the elder Fett and the Separatists. No time in Attack of the Clones did he ever say “the bounty hunter that was the source for the mysterious clone army? That’s him standing next to Count Dooku up there. Perhaps we should look into this army a little further if the clone source is aligned with the enemy.”
Now granted, bounty hunters are for hire, generally to the highest bidder. I suppose that could have been a consideration in Attack of the Clones. But shouldn’t Obi-Wan have at least pushed for an investigation into the connection? Why did he not sense something was afoot in the Force? For someone touted as one of the wisest Jedi, Kenobi’s failure to act on the Jango Fett/Count Dooku connection is but one more instance of the Jedi’s blindness to the Empire’s rise in George Lucas’s storytelling.
Obi-Wan deserved better than this.