Fans are calling out the opening scene of the new series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which premiered on Disney+ on May 27. In the premiere episode, stormtroopers open fire onto a Jedi school and distressed children flee with their teachers.
For some audience members, the scene is too much, too soon: “Obi-Wan Kenobi” airs the same week that a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two adults.
Journalist Daniel Figueroa IV went to the world premiere of the show in Anaheim, Calif. on May 26, two days after the Texas school shooting. Sitting next to two “Star Wars” actors — including Temuera Morrison, who voices Boba Fett — the longtime “Star Wars” fan was hyped to see the anticipated series.
Instead, Figueroa, 36, was shocked by what he saw: Stormtroopers firing on children and teachers dying to protect their students. “That didn’t need to be there,” Figueroa, 36, tweeted, characterizing the scene as a school shooting. “Come on.”
Speaking to TODAY, Figueroa explained his knee-jerk reaction to the sequence.
“What hurt me the most is thinking of all the families who’ve lost people, especially young people, this year and this week,” he said. “There is a time and place for art to tell those stories and play its role in holding society accountable for itself. But two days after 21 people were gunned down in a school, watching that hurt and felt belittling to a tragedy.”
"Two days after 21 people were gunned down in a school, watching that hurt and felt belittling to a tragedy.”
Daniel Figueroa IV
After watching the whole episode, Figueroa concluded that the scene wasn’t necessary. Conceding that it might turn out to be important later, the scene didn’t “connect” to any other plot line shown in the episode.
“We didn’t need that cold open there. It could’ve been moved to a later episode or taken out completely,” he said. “That scene did not connect to the story.”
Figueroa remarked on the role pop culture plays in normalizing violence. “It made it feel like we’ve normalized these incidents so much, the … outrage has tamped down,” Figueroa said.
“It sends a dangerous signal about our world if we’re no longer phased by students and teachers being gunned down in what should be a haven,” he continued.
Another viewer, musician Joey Dexamethasone, agreed that the scene was unnecessary.
“Not cool,” he tweeted shortly after the show premiered on Disney+ on Friday. Dexamethasone wrote that he watched "Obi-Wan" to “get (his) mind off” the pandemic and “school shooting stresses in the news,” only to be reminded of those very things.
Speaking to TODAY, Dexamethasone, 38, said the scene seemed “tone deaf,” given the proximity to the Texas tragedy.
“Even if post-production was long finished, they could have still trimmed out most of that scene and it wouldn’t have affected the story,” Dexamethasone said.
Given what happened in Texas, Dexamethasone wishes that Disney would’ve changed the episode or added a warning card as Netflix did ahead of the Season 4 “Stranger Things” premiere on May 27, which opens with a massacre involving children.
“I can see how this opening would be distressing to some and Disney should have anticipated that,” he said.
For Dexamethasone, who grew up watching "Star Wars," the scene is indicative of the franchise becoming “more gritty” and less “family friendly.” As a result, he doesn’t let his six-year-old watch it — even though he likes the droids.
Dexamethasone and Figueroa were joined by a chorus of social media users airing their frustrations with the scene and its timing.
Others were incredulous: "There’s no way the opening scene of Obi Wan Kenobi is a school shooting," @Adamkendama1 tweeted. Another wrote, "Are you kidding me?" Some called the scene's necessity into question.
In a tweet, journalist Ian Sherr called the opening sequence “too much considering this past week,” and was “honestly surprised” the episode wasn’t delayed.
Since the episode doesn’t come with a content warning, some fans were providing their own, warning other viewers what to expect.
“Just a head’s (sic) up for folks as a content warning, the very first scene in the very first episode of ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ involves children escaping a shooting,” @brianacunis wrote.
Another recommended starting the episode at the exact time-stamp the scene is over.
"Just want anyone else feeling fragile about “People With Guns Entering Room Full of Kids” to be aware of that before they start, ‘cause it hit me harder than i expected," @The_CJWilson wrote, along with a content warning.
According to a Disney Plus press release, "Obi-Wan Kenobi" takes place 10 years after "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith."
In "Revenge of the Sith," the press release reads, Obi-Wan Kenobi "faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.”
The series stars Hayden Christensen and Ewan MacGregor reprising their roles as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
TODAY has reached out to Disney+ for comment.
UPDATE (5/28 at 10:31 a.m.): Since the publication of this article, Disney+ has included a content warning for the first episode of "Obi-Wan Kenobi."