The program has yet to debut, but it is the spearhead of the Star Wars brand’s foray into live-action television. Prior to The Mandalorian, there were some attempts to bring the scope of the film series to the smaller screen. There was, of course, 1978’s The Star Wars Holiday Special, a variety show filled with bad decisions. It soured Star Wars creator George Lucas on television, though he tried again in the 1980s with two TV movies focused on the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. The reception of the second film, The Battle of Endor, put an end to more live action Star Wars TV projects in the 20th century.
After the conclusion of the prequel film trilogy in the early 2000s, Lucas envisioned a 100-episode series set in the period between Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars. This never materialized, as he planned to write and film the bulk of the series before it even aired — a giant financial hurdle. Then he sold his entire company to Disney, which clearly had designs on an episodic Star Wars series from the get-go. The result, a decade or so later, is The Mandalorian, which Star Wars fans got a first look at during D23 Expo in August with the release of the first trailer (above).
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) August 24, 2019
Like most Star Wars projects, details concerning the series require the aid of Bothan spies to unearth. Luckily, we have a few and can present to you this dossier on The Mandalorian, the most exciting Star Wars development in some time.
The Mandalorian is an eight-episode live-action Star Wars series set to debut on the Disney+ streaming service this fall. Created by Favreau, it stars Pedro Pascal (Narcos) as a nameless bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor. It also features Gina Carano (Deadpool) as an ex-Rebel shock trooper named Cara Dune, and Carl Weathers (Predator) as Greef Carga, the head of an outer rim bounty hunter guild. Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), and Omid Abtahi (American Gods) will also appear as members of a faction still loyal to the First Galactic Empire. Other cast members include Emily Swallow (Supernatural) and Nick Nolte (Affliction). Casting of Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was announced at D23, but no more details about her role were revealed.
Favreau has also assembled an all-star group of directors including Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), who directed the first episode, Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi, who is also reportedly voicing a character. Favreau and Filoni serve as executive producers on the program alongside Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson. And if the Star Wars Celebration appearance in April is any indication, Filoni is as involved as involved as Favreau, which leaves fans hoping characters from Clone Wars or Rebels will appear.
The action begins five years after the events of Return of the Jedi.
“It was really compelling to me what happens after the celebration of the Empire falling,” Favreau said during his Star Wars Celebration appearance. “The revolution was successful, but then what happens?”
As it turns out, killing the Emperor and destroying the second Death Star did not end the conflict between the Alliance and the Empire. Various garrisons and regional governors still loyal to the cause maintained their holds on various star systems as the Alliance attempted to start a New Republic. Of course, the New Republic is hundreds of light years away from the conflict facing the area of space in The Mandalorian, leaving many under continued Imperial oppression. A sizzle reel shown at Celebration featured Esposito’s character ordering his men to fire on a small community to smoke out a person of interest. At D23 in August, Esposito said, “My position in the Empire is indelible.”
The choice of era allows Favreau, Filoni, and their collaborators to build out into a part of the galaxy untouched by the Star Wars sequel film series. Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place some 15 years after The Mandalorian begins, the television show has a wide span of time to develop its characters and story.
Our Bothans are still unclear on this front. But as the series begins, the strapped-for-credits Mandalorian meets with Carga to grab all of his available bounties. Carga instead directs him to what Weathers called a “sensitive client” who turns out to be Herzog’s Imperial dignitary. The Mandalorian is offered a few details about his bounty. He is also given the last four digits of the quarry’s gene-marker. Herzog’s character wants the bounty brought in alive, but he is also willing to pay a reduced fee should the Mandalorian have to kill the mark.
The Herzog character offers traditional Mandalorian artifacts as part of the payment, but also suggests they may not matter to the title character as he may be a pretender in stolen armor.
“He’s a mysterious, lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy,” Pascal said of the character. “Some would say he has questionable moral character.”
We assume the identity of the man under the helmet will also be an ongoing story point, as will the Imperial remnant’s use of force in that portion of space. From the footage we saw at Celebration, The Mandalorian will take place in dusty villages and snow-covered worlds, evoking the look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy. And considering the look of the show, we think it is only a matter of time before the Mandalorian finds himself in conflict with the Imperials. It is a tradition of Star Wars storytelling, after all.
During his appearance on Kimmel, Favreau also said the show is about what happens when the rule of law disappears.
Probably not in the first season. Early on, Favreau mentioned he was keen to build a fresh sector of the galaxy.
“It’s all new characters,” he said last May, “[and] different planets.”
This means major characters like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) will be far from the series’ action. That said, it is always possible they could be references should representatives of the New Republic take note of what is happening in The Mandalorian’s sector of space.
Nonetheless, rumors persist that Star Wars Rebels character Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall on that series) will make her live-action debut. Our Bothans are not so sure about these reports. Prior to Celebration, many believed infamous bounty hunter droid IG-88 would be part of the cast — voiced by Taika Waititi, no less! — but the IG droid glimpsed in the Celebration footage turned out to be a completely different droid: IG-11. Yes, the numeric difference matters. At D23, Waititi quipped about representing droids: “Bounty hunter droids are very misunderstood.”
And in the D23 trailer, we noticed something else familiar: figures frozen in carbonite. The process is seemingly more popular in the post-Empire galaxy than when Han Solo was the first humanoid subjected to the procedure. Will it be the way The Mandalorian brings his quarry back to the Imperial Remnant? Also, The Mandalorian and IG-11 will work together at some point during the series, but are they friendly like Boba Fett and Dengar were back in the Expanded Universe?
We would not be surprised if the name Jodo Kast — a man pretending to be Boba Fett in a series of tales now discarded from the Disney Star Wars cannon — somehow made its way onto the series. Filoni is known for re-purposing ideas from the incorporating Expanded Universe ideas into his narratives, and this one seems ripe for The Mandalorian.
The series will be a launch title for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. While it is still unclear if the series will be binge-ready like a Netflix Original or parsed out over a number of weeks (a la CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery), you will get your first look at the series on November 12, the service’s launch date.
No. A series featuring Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk) is also in development, , as is an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor. Filoni’s Clone Wars will also make a return on Disney+ for a seventh and final season. Our Bothans also expect Disney will continue to develop new live action and animated series for the platform for a good long time.