The return of Obi-Wan and Maverick

Jennie Josephson
5 min readMay 24, 2022


It’s a dueling daddy issues weekend

On the left, the poster for “Kenobi” with the twin suns in the background and Obi-Wan Kenobi staring off into the distance. On the right, the poster for “Top Gun: Maverick” with Pete “Maverick” Mitchell staring straight into the camera.
Oh, daddy. Images courtesy Disney+ and Paramount Pictures

Are you a Gen-X latchkey kid with daddy issues? Cuz I am. Get those tissues ready and put your therapist on standby, because this is our weekend to resolve some generational pain.

Top Gun’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, returns to theaters for the first time since 1986. Obi-Wan Kenobi, everyone’s favorite found-family sad dad, returns to live-action storytelling for the first time since 2005. Tom Cruise and Ewan McGregor play Mitchell and Kenobi, and have, in their own ways, been part of our Gen-X consciousness for large parts of our lives.

Sir Alec Guinness originated the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977. Guinness was part of the Greatest Generation and served as a Royal Navy Reserve during World War II. In case you’re wondering what generation we’re all still trying to emulate.

To borrow my husband’s favorite party trick—did you know that 1986 is as far away from 2022 as it is from 1950? 1.8 million male Baby Boomers were born in 1950. You know what most parents didn’t talk about in those days? Feelings. They yelled, they drank; they shook their heads in silent despair. But feelings? No thank you.

In a galaxy far, far away, did you know that 2005 is as far away from 2022 as it is from 1983? 1983 is the year that force-ghost Obi-Wan confessed that his farkakte story about Anakin Skywalker was only true from a certain point of view.

Thanks a lot, dad.

George Lucas brought us Star Wars and created Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan is the Platonic ideal of the perfect, unavailable man. Did Obi-Wan Kenobi have a dad? Yes, but he’s no longer canon. Obi-Wan left his family at an early age. He joined a religious order that forbids romantic attachment and asks its members to reject fear and anger, but not state-sponsored warfare. Obi-Wan was one of the last living members of a religious order that lasted a thousand years but fell apart before he was 40. A Sith lord murdered his own found-father. He (literally) cut the legs out from under his brother-son Anakin, who then became a Sith Lord.

Let’s not even talk about what happened to the love of his life.

Did you know George Lucas is technically a member of the Silent Generation, not the Boomers? That’s why he’s always staring at you but not saying anything. I’m kidding. Lucas is the ultimate proto-Boomer. His dad wanted him to work at the family stationery store, but the kid just wanted to make movies and race cars. George Lucas made a movie about racing cars in Central California. Then, in 1977, he made Star Wars and changed our lives forever.

In Top Gun 1986, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is a hot shot fly boy—the best of the best. He goes to Top Gun Alpha Bro Homoerotic Volleyball school. He falls in love. He fights with his classmates. He loses his best friend. His dad may or may not have been a deserter. It’s classified. But his found-father, Mike “Viper” Metcalf tells him what really happened. Daddy issues resolved, Maverick fights in one battle with the Russians and saves the world. If you don’t remember any of this, go re-watch Top Gun. I sense the daddy issues will be thematically relevant.

Talk to me, Goose!

Also, Top Gun is a musical. Fight me.

Producing partners Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson partnered with the U.S. Navy to increase recruitment. They made a movie that’s mostly a series of training exercises with very expensive military jets. Bruckheimer and Simpson were born in 1943, one year before Lucas. Bruckheimer’s parents were German-Jewish immigrants. Simpson’s dad was a strict Baptist who worked at Boeing. You do the daddy issues math. Simpson died in 1996 of drug-induced heart failure. Bruckheimer, now 78, produced Top Gun: Maverick, and many of the most epic testosterone movies of the 80’s and early 90's.

I’m sure these new stories will head right for the same old daddy issues. Maverick will teach a bunch of hot shots, one of whom lost his father in a jet wash accident. There'll be shoving, volleyball, and an age-appropriate love interest. There'll be planes and motorcycles and singing. And at some point we will all be properly chastised by Mr. Daddy Issues himself, Dick Whitman. I mean Don Draper. I mean Jon Hamm.

Jon Hamm in Top Gun: Maverick wearing aviators and looking annoyed.
Jon Hamm is annoyed with you. Image courtesy Paramount Pictures.

Obi-Wan Kenobi will be six glorious episodes about losing your family, the meaning of life, and finding your purpose again. Also, hope, probably. There’s a little kid named Luke out there in the desert, and he needs a less grumpy father figure. His adopted father, Owen Lars, has daddy issues of his own.

The Star Wars and Top Gun universes are filled with found families. Kids with super powers who find others like themselves. They fight. They learn. They learn teamwork. Tragedy strikes, but they still pull out the win. Pete Mitchell was the kid with a chip on his shoulder—now he’s trying to be a high-flying mentor. I believe Obi-Wan Kenobi should always have been front and center in Star Wars. But on the big screen he’s a mentor. Even when he grew a beard, he was still Anakin’s father-brother. Until he wasn’t. Eventually, he became a wise old Force-ghost guiding a whiny farm boy from the blue sideline beyond.

(Don’t come at me about Clone Wars and Rebels, and all the other animated Star Wars shows. Has your mom seen them? Has your friend who thinks Rise of Skywalker is good fun and you’re just being a grump seen them?)

I thought not.

In the end, Top Gun: Maverick and Obi-Wan Kenobi are both stories about men who suffer pain and loss and have to deal with it. We hope they don’t turn to the Dark Side. Or the side that crashes $100 million dollar jets.

So Friday, as you’re standing in line with the family to buy popcorn for Top Gun. Ask yourself:

“Why did I wake up at 3 AM to watch two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

“Who's gonna deal with their daddy issues the best, Old Mav or Old Ben?”

“Is there a Gen-X latchkey kid without daddy issues?”

Finally, ask yourself this:

Why does American culture make it so hard to be a man who feels things out loud? Why do so many men want to make it impossible for a woman to make her own choices? Why do so many women go along with it? And how the hell are we still letting people have access to guns that can kill 14 children and one teacher who were alive when I started this article, and will now never sit in a darkened theater and see a movie again?

I hope that Obi-Wan and Maverick will show us all how to grow up and deal with our collective pain. Or at least channel it into something bigger than our own fury. Who knows.

Maybe it’ll just be motorcycles and blue milk until the end.

Jennie Josephson is a writer and producer and co-host of a podcast called Let’s Talk About Star Wars.