Jon Favreau caused a frenzy of galactic proportions Wednesday as he quietly revealed details about his upcoming Star Wars television series via his Instagram feed. While key info, like the cast and a release date, are still unknown, Favreau offered up enough details to chew on until he feels inclined to show us the main character’s armor or the face of whatever alien he ends up voicing. We’re assuming he’ll voice a character because that’s how Favreau rolls.
— Star Wars (@starwars) October 4, 2018
The actor, producer, director, and writer — known for the Iron Man films, The Jungle Book, Elf, and so much more — wrote: “After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the first Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic….”
StarWars.com on Thursday posted a photo from the production, confirming the title of the streaming series, and announcing the directors.
Let’s take a look at everything we know about The Mandalorian so far.
First things first, the title makes one thing very clear: this is a show about a Mandalorian. The humanoid race has a big tie to the Star Wars galaxy thanks to Boba Fett’s debut in The Star Wars Holiday Special and his subsequent appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. His cool look, designed by Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston, suggested a character of intrigue and prime importance. In the end, he only mattered insofar as getting Han Solo (Harrison Ford) back to Tatooine, where he learned new definitions of pain and suffering while being digested in the depths of the all-powerful Sarlaac.
But fans wanted more from the character and it begat an entire culture of ritualized warriors featured in subsequent novels, comics, games like Knights of the Old Republic, and codified into the current canon via the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series. Fett’s story, at least in canon, extends backwards thanks to the Prequel Trilogy and a plotline featuring his clone father, Jango Fett (Temura Morrison) in Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones. You may also see representatives of Mandalorian fan groups at your local comic convention or fan fest.
But in featuring a Mando as the lead character, Favreau is tapping into some of the oldest and most beloved Star Wars iconography not related to the Jedi. Mando cosplayers must be thrilled.
In his description of the character, Favreau refers to the new Mandalorian as a “lone gunfighter,” which sets the character apart from Fett’s bounty hunting almost immediately. Nonetheless, some will assume the show might have something to do with Fett. As discussed earlier, his unceremonious end led to the whole Mando culture in the Star Wars universe and in real life. But it also lead to an ongoing story line in the pages of Dark Horse Comics’s Star Wars comic books in which Han not only faced an imposter Fett, but learned the original did in fact escape the Sarlaac. Those comics no longer meet canonicity muster, but that imposter, Jodo Kast, could re-enter canon as the lead of the show.
Well, it is possibly, except for one thing: Favreau previously mentioned the series will feature all brand-new characters. The Gunslinger, as we’ll call him or her for the moment, will presumably have no immediate ties to any established Star Wars stories. Of course, that could always change in subsequent seasons as we later find out Sabine Wren is their mother or they were Kast all along. Star Wars, after all, does have a habit of making the endless reaches of space a very intimate family affair.
In addition to Favreau, who will write and executive produce the series, talent behind the camera includes Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), who will direct the first episode. Additional episodic directors include Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (pictured above in Thor: Ragnarok). It will be executive produced by Favreau, Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson. Karen Gilchrist will serve as co-executive producer.
Favreau’s Gunslinger will roam the spaceways after the fall of the Empire, but before the rise of the First Order. As he put it, the character will inhabit a part of space “far from the authority of the New Republic.”
While Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy made the phrase “New Republic” canon in the current Disney version of Star Wars, seeing it used in connection with The Mandalorian brings a certain thrill to any Star Wars fan who grew up reading the Expanded Universe novels or comics of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Initiated by Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, the Expanded Universe’s major setting was the era following Return of the Jedi, in which a New Republic led by Mon Mothma and Leia attempted to rebuild the galactic government that stood for thousands of years and protect it from other would-be Emperors. No easy task, particularly with the Imperial Remnant trying to recreate the Galactic Empire according to the designs of various Moffs and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Within that framework, hundreds of stories were told about Luke rebuilding the Jedi, Han and Leia’s children following in their family’s footsteps, and threats from beyond the galaxy trying to shake apart New Republic.
Of course, all of that material was set aside when Disney began its own post-ROTJ era with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Wendig’s novels. In fact, some EU fans are still quite raw about the changes. Nonetheless, it is the era many fans still want to see realized on screen. As a period of both reconstruction and decline, it offers a number of dramatic hooks for seasons to come, even if the Gunslinger is staying clear of any direct entanglements with the Republic.
Which presumably means we’ll be seeing a certain hive of scum and villainy. Crime on the Outer Rim never took much notice of the changing political landscape in the core systems anyway.
Though it is still unclear when the series will premiere, we can make a few educated guesses. The show will debut on Disney’s as-yet unnamed streaming service. That platform is expected to debut sometime in 2019 following the end of the studio’s streaming contract with Netflix and the company’s merger with 20th Century Fox. All of which suggests a late 2019 launch.
And, as it happens, sets are already being built for the show, which suggests most of it will be in the can well before the service is ready to launch next year. Well, presuming a Star Wars television series needs less post-production time than its feature film cousins.
In fact, the look and feel of a Star Wars live-action television series may be the biggest question mark of all. The various animated series all brought a unique feel to the established Star Wars iconography, but a live-action program will have to maintain a certain visual consistency with the films. Doing that on a budget while bringing a slice of the Star Wars galaxy to television in an episodic format may be as great an adventure as anything Favreau plans for his Gunslinger.