Star Wars manages to be simultaneously packed with infinite detail and constantly folding back into already covered material. The next big thing in the franchise depicts one of the series best-known characters in between the two phases of his role in the main storyline, while also introducing a new concept to the series.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to premiere in May 2022, the third big live-action Star Wars show on Disney+. The series has shown off some interesting imagery in its teasers and trailers, including the big reveal of some of the show's villains. The series will feature the lesser-known Star Wars villain group the Inquisitors, who has only appeared in animated series, comics, and video games.
The concept of the Inquisitors has had a long and half-formed life before any proper introduction or canonization. The first mention of an Inquisitor came in 1987, as part of a tabletop RPG sourcebook. It's a minor detail that the book speeds past almost immediately, with an image of Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless for flavor. Later expansions to the RPG fleshed out the concept and added some details. The MMO Star Wars Galaxies featured Inquisitors as a villain available in an expansion pack. The expanded universe novels set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope heavily featured the Inquisitors as a concept but were declared non-canon after Disney purchased the franchise. It was 2014 when the franchise reincorporated the Inquisitors into the modern canon, as part of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series.
The Inquisitors are a group of hunters and assassins who serve the Sith and the Empire by hunting down all the Jedi who survived Order 66. They use the Force, as well as cool red lightsabers, to slay their targets. After the massive genocide which occurred during the initial attack, Jedi went into hiding. Their numbers and power made taking them out a very difficult task, so the Inquisitors were trained from birth to join their ranks. Along with hunting down Jedi, the group often sought out other political dissidents, like Rebel spies. The organization was led by a man known only as The Grand Inquisitor, the new take on the classic concept. The Inquisitors play a huge role in Star Wars: Rebels, as well as the game Jedi: Fallen Order.
Inquisitors undergo an intense and terrible recruitment process that leaves them emotionally scarred and physically altered. The process began when Darth Sidious hired bounty hunter Cad Bane to kidnap a group of Force-sensitive kids set to become Jedi. He intended to raise them to become spies, but his plan was foiled by Anakin Skywalker. Without a crop of powerful children, Sidious turned to a new source, Jedi who held grievances with the Jedi order. By offering them survival in exchange for service, Sidious trained a group of former Jedi into his Inquisitors. Some Jedi joined willingly, others were violently tortured into servitude or forcefully corrupted. The process of turning them into villainous hunters also often costs them a body part, as Vader maims most of his trainees. To keep the ranks full, Inquisitors are tasked with hunting down Force-sensitive babies as well as Jedi, bringing Sidious's plan full circle.
The Inquisitors are small in number and weak in the usage of the Force. They defeat Jedi primarily with overwhelming aggression in lightsaber combat. Having been trained in the Jedi way of fighting, the Inquisitors are able to predict and defeat them before they can use their powers. There have been 12 Inquisitors introduced in the series, and there likely aren't many more. They're an elite group, designed for a specific purpose, and they are excellent at achieving that goal. Most of them are known only by a number and they all function as a unit of comrades. Despite their individual journeys following interesting paths of betrayal and torment, the group's history is much more utilitarian.
The Inquisitorious organization came into being due to Sidious foreseeing the issue of runaway Jedi living in hiding, but his foresight did eventually fail him. After the Empire became well-established and Sidious ran the galaxy, Jedi were thought to be fully wiped out. Since Sidious believed that his Jedi problems were over, the Inquisitors faded silently into the folds of history. It's unknown what happened to them after their brief period of usefulness, either they were cast aside or executed. Sidious viewed the Inquisitors as expendable tools who grew obsolete as soon as the Jedi were eliminated, while also selecting them specifically because they lacked the potential to defeat him. The Inquisitors are an excellent threat for viewers tired of Vader or Sidious, a group of specially trained Jedi hunters who pose a unique threat, paired with a solid villain design. But, they're even more important as a villain in Obi-Wan's solo story.
Obi-Wan is the man who trained the ultimate turned Jedi, so a group of comparable ex-good guys is the perfect nemesis for the classic mentor. Obi-Wan defending what remains of the Jedi order from those who abandoned it is the perfect arc for his long-awaited solo story.
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