Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi delved into Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Leia Organa’s (Vivien Lyra Blair) relationship, leading many to wonder how Star Wars would have been different if Kenobi had elected to train Leia instead of Luke (Mark Hamill). Throughout the limited series, Kenobi and Leia grew very close over their shared history, and Kenobi was able to be more honest with her than he was with Luke, as he needed to keep his distance from the boy. Additionally, Leia and Kenobi grew closer by recognizing each other’s skills and abilities, growing to inspire one another in a strong, if unofficial mentor-student bond.
With Obi-Wan Kenobi developing the relationship between Leia and the Jedi to such a degree, had Kenobi elected to stay on Alderaan to train the young princess, the original trilogy would have been very different. Most distinctly, having Leia as the Star Wars franchise’s main Jedi padawan would have changed the core of the Rebellion, and if the franchise went so far as to make Leia the protagonist instead of Luke, the movies would also have had a fully different tone. Finally, with Kenobi and Leia taking on the roles of Jedi-Rebellion leaders, it’s likely that their fates, and Luke’s as well, would have been significantly altered.
The Jedi Would Have Been A Rebellion Rallying Point From the Beginning
If Leia had received both political training for her role as a royal leader and Jedi training from Kenobi, the Rebellion would have undoubtedly been able to leverage having two Jedi as part of their message to the galaxy. With Leia and Kenobi at the helm, they could both emphasize the failure of the Empire to eradicate the Jedi as an ideological rallying point, recruiting more people to the cause and using their story of keeping Star Wars’ Jedi traditions alive as a sign of hope. Additionally, they could have spread some of their Jedi training to any who were Force-sensitive among the Rebellion’s ranks, strengthening the resistance as a whole. Also, knowing Leia’s strong personality and drive to succeed, if she had been a fully-fledged Jedi Knight in the original Star Wars, she would have undoubtedly been a heroic figure pushing for stronger strikes against the Empire at every turn. Her abilities would have also made her an even better spy for the Rebellion than before, leading to an even bolder iteration of the Rebellion than the original.
Star Wars Would Have Been A Spy Movie Instead of A Hero’s Journey
Along with Leia and Kenobi strengthening the Rebellion, if Leia had been the protagonist and Jedi-in-training instead of Luke, the structure of the original Star Wars movies would have been fundamentally different. Due to Luke’s growing up in the cities of Star Wars’ Tatooine with little knowledge of his heritage and abilities, his story makes for an easier correlation with the hero’s journey, where he is called to adventure and grows as he travels. Leia, however, has been involved in the conflict with the Empire and its stakes her entire life; she is all too aware of the forces moving in the galaxy and how power impacts those beneath them. This knowledge and drive to be involved in the Rebellion lends itself to a different kind of story, with her activities calling for a Star Wars that focuses more on subterfuge, politics, and covert action. With the hero of Star Wars as a spy instead of an intrepid farm boy turned pilot, the movies might have gone more along a classic route akin to older James Bond films, with Leia’s Jedi training best supplementing her role in raids and politics.
Padme’s Memory Would Have Had A Stronger Influence on the Plot
One of the core themes of the original Star Wars films was the relationship between Luke and Darth Vader (James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen), culminating in the latter’s redemption. But with Leia as the main protagonist, this dynamic would have been radically different, especially as Leia often interacted with Darth Vader politically. However, as Obi-Wan often noted in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Leia shared many similarities not just with her father, but with her mother. This narrative element would have brought Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) to the forefront alongside Darth Vader, especially as Leia, and perhaps Luke, would need to reconcile the conflict between their parents that resulted in the secrecy of their birth. Leia’s connection to Padmé could have also played a stronger role in her conflicts with Darth Vader, leading to a deeper exploration of Star Wars’ Skywalkers, what broke them apart, and their ultimate reconciliation. This would be especially true if Padmé’s memory was honored by the Rebellion due to Leia’s presence, increasing the complexity of Darth Vader’s attacks on the resistance as he learned that they were inspired by his true love’s image.
Obi-Wan Might Have Lived
But the impact of Leia getting trained by Kenobi instead of Luke in the Star Wars universe would not just thematically change the tone of the original movies, they also might have changed specific plot points. After all, with Leia at Obi-Wan’s side with several years of training behind her instead of mere days, she could have changed the course of the final duel between Kenobi and Darth Vader. If they had faced the Sith Lord together, Obi-Wan would not have needed to keep Darth Vader’s attention solely on him as he did while protecting a largely untrained Luke in the Star Wars movies. Even if Obi-Wan still perished in the final fight, Leia’s previous training could have allowed for a subplot where she must genuinely struggle against falling to the dark side in the wake of her grief, especially given the long history between her and the older Jedi.
Luke Might Have Become An Imperial Pilot
Regarding specific plot points, with Leia as the premiere Jedi in the galaxy, Luke’s fate might have been very different as well. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke wants to be a pilot before his lie is turned upside down. But if he hadn’t been swept up in the Rebellion, perhaps he would have achieved that dream by joining the Empire. Luke’s family isn’t particularly rich or influential, as he grows up on a remote, backwater planet. This means it’s not out of the realm of possibility that for Luke to achieve his dreams, he would just have needed to train on Star Wars’ imperial TIE fighters, and perhaps even become a devoted servant to the Empire. This duality of pitting Obi-Wan and Leia against Luke and Darth Vader could have made for a very different and deeply fascinating original Star Wars trilogy.
If stories are primarily defined by their heroes, then it goes without saying that if Kenobi had trained Leia instead of Luke, Star Wars would not be the story it is today. Not only would Leia and Kenobi have had more history to explore, but their combined abilities would have had a distinct impact on the nature of the Rebellion in Star Wars sequels and its relationship to Darth Vader. Although this story will never come to be, the possibilities established by the limited series show how integral these characters are to the Star Wars franchise.