To see Ewan McGregor back as the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi was a sight to behold. Fans had waited years for the Scotsman to reprise the role he inherited from the mighty Alec Guinness, and he didn't disappoint.
The generally favorable Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ gave us a look into a different chapter of Kenobi's relationship with his former friend and apprentice, Anakin Skywalker AKA Darth Vader.
But by the end of the series, a stark question came to head: Why couldn't Darth Vader ever beat Obi-Wan Kenobi? Isn't Vader said to be stronger than nearly every Jedi? What's going on here?
Let's dive into the lore behind the incredible relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, where we'll find several reasons why Darth Vader could never defeat his former master.
1. Darth Vader's Hatred
Of the many theories why Darth Vader can't beat Obi-Wan in battle, the chief reason is due to the special hatred Vader has for his former Master.
In their past, Obi-Wan trained Anakin to be as good as a Jedi can be and he passed his strengths on to Anakin, all while Obi-Wan sought to promote the ideals he held as a Jedi himself, too.
Obi-Wan was once reckless and foolish as a Padawan, but as he grew older, a calm came over him—a calm that was inherited from Qui-Gon Jinn, a calm that would stay with him for the rest of his days.
However, Anakin never could learn the lesson of patience. Instead, he restlessly fought to acquire everything he felt he needed, to the point that it caused his fall to the Dark Side.
Now, whenever Darth Vader meets Obi-Wan Kenobi in battle, the anger that's always brewing under his skin is amplified by the presence of his former Master, and it causes him to fight emotionally.
Only against Obi-Wan does Darth Vader take reckless swings and shots that would never work against a Jedi as powerful as Kenobi, and that's why Obi-Wan will always hold the advantage over Anakin in any duel.
2. Darth Vader's Predictability
In Obi-Wan Kenobi, there was a scene that highlighted another reason why Obi-Wan always has the edge over Darth Vader: Kenobi himself trained Anakin in the ways of the Jedi, including how to fight with a lightsaber and the Force. Obi-Wan knows how Anakin likes to fight.
Obviously, the sheer savagery of Darth Vader is something Kenobi never bestowed on him, but the fundamental fighting techniques are rooted in those days when Obi-Wan taught Anakin. That left Obi-Wan with a deep knowledge of Anakin's movements and weaknesses.
In the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, we see a flashback to the pair engaging in a sparring match in the Jedi temple, with Anakin showing off his skills as a Padawan and nearly beating Kenobi.
However, using what he learned from his own Master, Obi-Wan gathers his patience and insight to overcome Anakin—a skill he tragically has to use against him in battle for real.
3. Obi-Wan Doesn't Fear Darth Vader
There's one simple fact that most people tend to forget about Obi-Wan Kenobi: whenever he's facing Darth Vader, he's never in the position of a normal hunted Jedi at the mercy of a mighty Sith Lord.
Obi-Wan intimately knows the man beneath the armor, he knows the person who Anakin once was, he knows why he fell to the Dark Side. Obi-Wan has no fear of Darth Vader because he knows better than anybody else the feelings that led Vader down his path.
Obi-Wan might not be as strong as Darth Vader in Star Wars lore (depending on what you believe), but that doesn't matter when he faces Vader because he has no fear of Anakin. The mask and voice have no effect on Obi-Wan.
In their battle during the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Obi-Wan shows no signs that he's intimidated by Darth Vader after he recovers his full strength. He leaves the fearsome Sith on his knees after striking what would've been fatal blows if he truly wished to kill Anakin.
4. Obi-Wan's Inner Strength
Obi-Wan was strong, and not just for a Jedi. Of all the Jedi in the Star Wars universe, Obi-Wan is one of the most revered and most powerful—so he'll always pose a significant threat in any fight he's in.
Obi-Wan became the first Jedi to defeat a Sith in over 1,000 years when he beat Darth Maul—as a Padawan, no less. Furthermore, Obi-Wan's command of the Force was so good that Darth Vader had trouble getting away from the rocks leveled at him by Obi-Wan in their second fight.
The life of Obi-Wan is one of learning. He started as a young, headstrong, impulsive warrior, but his Master and his life taught him the value of patience. Through that came significant power.
Obi-Wan's knowledge of the Force and his ability to become one with it both show the immense inner strength the Jedi Master had.
The End Result
All in all, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader have fought each other on three separate occasions. Obi-Wan emerged victorious in two of them, and even in their third fight, he allowed Vader to win for a greater purpose.
Darth Vader's hatred for Anakin and for Obi-Wan pushed him to try and kill the Jedi Master through sheer brute force, which was never going to work against an opponent as skilled as Kenobi.
Is Obi-Wan Kenobi on equal ground as Darth Vader in terms of strength and skill? That remains up for debate. However, his use and knowledge of the Force undoubtedly exceeded his former Padawan's, and that serves as a chief reason why Darth Vader could never defeat him.