Who needs Jedi?
Long-awaited live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian is coming to the Disney Plus streaming service, and it’s a name with deep roots in the franchise’s history and links to the insanely cool armor worn by bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Lucasfilm revealed on Dec. 12 that Pedro Pascal (best known for playing Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones) had been cast in the title role — a lone Mandalorian gunfighter operating the outer reaches of the galaxy. Reports had circulated since mid-November that the Chilean-born Pascal was in negotiations for the lead role.
The show will debut at the same time Disney Plus launches on Nov. 12.
Pascal will be joined by Giancarlo Esposito (who played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), MMA fighter and Deadpool actress Gina Carano, Emily Swallow from Supernatural, Carl Weathers of Rocky and Predator fame, Down and Out in Beverly Hills actor Nick Nolte, Omid Abtahi from American Gods and Werner Herzog (who directed and narrated Grizzly Man).
Only a few characters have been revealed so far, including Carano’s Cara Dune and Weathers’ Karl Greef.
At Star Wars Celebration Chicago in April, Pascal said that his Mandalorian is ‘a mysterious lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy,’ said Pascal. ‘Some might say he has questionable moral character.’
Dune is an ex-Rebel Shock Trooper and Weathers is a character who will work closely with Pascal’s.
‘He’s kinda the head of this guild of bounty hunters,’ Weathers revealed at Star Wars Celebration. ‘The Mando is a guy who he figures can get the job done.’
The Star Wars underworld is a very rich storytelling environment, according to Executive Producer Jon Favreau. He wanted to get back to the tone of the old western and samurai films that inspired George Lucas.
‘We’re having a great time working with this incredibly talented group and excited for everyone to see what we’re up to,’ Favreau, the show’s executive producer, said in a release.
The Mandalorian is one of three shows set in a galaxy far, far away coming to the Disney Plus streaming service, which arrives in 2019. The company announced the seventh season of The Clone Wars over the summer and a Rogue One prequel series focusing on rebel spy Cassian Andor on Nov. 9.
We don’t have an exact release date for The Mandalorian yet, but Entertainment Weekly reported on Jan. 3 that it’ll arrive in the latter part of 2019. However, Lucasfilm told us in an emailed statement that no premiere date has been confirmed for the show.
It’s likely to be the streaming service’s biggest draw, even if it’s 20 years too late for some of us. We’ll keep this guide updated with all the juicy details for you to gobble up like a hungry Sarlacc. We’ll give you a sense of where the show might go and suggest other viewing that’ll prepare you and sate that appetite in the meantime.
What we know so far
Lucasfilm has steadily drip-fed information about the show since March when Favreau was announced as its writer and executive producer. It’s not his first Star Wars rodeo. He voiced Pre Vizsla — the violent leader of a Mandalorian splinter group — in The Clone Wars and played pilot Rio Durant in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Over the summer, Favreau revealed that the show will be set seven years after Return of the Jedi (so six years after the Empire’s final defeat at the Battle of Jakku and 23 years before The Force Awakens) and will focus on all-new characters. We also have a New York Times report that its 10 episodes will enjoy a $100 million budget, which was the rumored cost of Westworld’s first season.
Favreau announced the show’s name in early October with an Instagram post giving us the synopsis in a Star Wars-style crawl:
‘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….’
With that reveal came a list of directors for some of the episodes:
- Dave Filoni — The Clone Wars and Rebels creator will direct the first episode.
- Taika Waititi — Directed Thor: Ragnarok.
- Bryce Dallas Howard — Better known for her acting but has directed shorts like Soulmates.
- Rick Famuyiwa — Directed Dope.
- Deborah Chow — Directed Jessica Jones and Better Call Saul.
Since announcing the show’s name, Favreau dropped a few hints and updates on Instagram. He revealed a rifle that’ll be familiar to fans of the infamously bad Star Wars Holiday Special where Boba Fett made his first appearance in 1978.
Favreau also shared a photo of a prop that looks a whole lot like that ice cream maker-like can carried by cult Empire Strikes Back character Willrow Hood — perhaps an effort to highlight the show’s attention to classic Star Wars detail.
The show has attracted the attention of Star Wars creator George Lucas, who visited the set for Favreau’s 52nd birthday on Oct. 19. The pair also posed with Filoni, who developed The Clone Wars with Lucas.
Pascal was clearly excited to finally be able to talk about the role, posting some Filoni sketches of his character to his Instagram on Dec. 12.
The Mandalorian will be among the first projects for ILM TV, the newly announced TV division of Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company. It’ll be run from a new studio in London.
On Dec. 19, we learned the show’s soundtrack will be composed by Ludwig Göransson, who scored Black Panther, Venom and Creed II. Göransson’s Black Panther score won him a Grammy on Feb. 10 and an Oscar on Feb. 25.
‘In these next months I hope to honor the tradition of Star Wars’ musical landscape while propelling The Mandalorian into new and unchartered territory,’ he said in a statement posted to StarWars.com. ‘And I will try to remember that there is no try.’
On Dec. 25, Favreau gave fans a Christmas present in the form of a shot featuring bounty hunter IG-88 against a green screen.
‘Merry Christmas,’ he wrote in the post.
The Favreau droid parade continued in the Jan. 29 shot of R5-D4, an astromech who played a small but pivotal role in A New Hope. You might remember him as the droid Uncle Owen initially agreed to buy from the Jawas, until a bad motivator resulted in him taking R2-D2 instead.
We got a hint about the show’s tone on Feb. 4, when director Taika Waititi mentioned after a Television Critics Association panel that it’ll be similar to the original trilogy and that he had to curb the signature comedic instincts he used in Thor: Ragnarok as he directed an episode of the show.
‘Star Wars, you know, is just very different to the Marvel style,’ he said. ‘They know that whatever was set up in the tone of the first films really should be kind of adhered to and that’s what the fans like and you can’t really disrespect it, I guess, is a nice way of saying it. Can’t have too many jokes, but there’s a little bit. Definitely my tone is in there, with the dialogue and stuff like that.’
He also mentioned working on ‘scenes with like 50 or 60’ Stormtroopers.
On Feb. 15, (the same day Episode 9 finished its shoot) crew members reportedly posted on social media that the first season of The Mandalorian had wrapped production. The posts were apparently deleted, but it was the first indication that we’ve had that that show wasn’t just a limited series.
What’s a Mandalorian?
They’re humans from the Outer Rim world of Mandalore, its moon Concordia and the planet Kalevala, whose story was largely told in The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Their world went through major political upheaval during the Clone Wars and early days of the Galactic Empire’s rule, but many of the clans united under the rule of Bo-Katan Kryze after she took control of the Darksaber. The black-bladed weapon was created more than 1,000 years earlier by Tarre Vizsla (the first Mandalorian to join the Jedi Order) and became a symbol of leadership.
You probably associate bounty hunters Boba Fett and Jango Fett with the term because they wear the cool armor, but they aren’t true Mandalorians. Jango once claimed to be from Concord Dawn, a Mandalorian world, but the government considered him (and by extension, his cloned son Boba) to be pretenders.
Who could be wearing the armor in this new show?
Fans have been clamoring for Boba’s return to the Star Wars galaxy despite his fall into the maw of a hungry Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, but there’s been no indication that will happen. Kennedy recently confirmed that his much-rumored solo movie is ‘100 percent dead,’ but that could pave the way for his dramatic return in The Mandalorian.
Fans of the Legends material (developed in novels, comics and games prior to 2014) will recall that Boba escaped the Sarlacc in that continuity and went on to become the leader of Mandalore in a very different post-Return of the Jedi galaxy.
In Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy of novels, Mandalorian armor that’s heavily implied to be Boba’s is recovered from the pit and worn by former slave Cobb Vanth. Using the armor as a symbol of power, he becomes sheriff of Freetown (a settlement on Tatooine) and offers sanctuary to anyone willing to battle the world’s crime syndicates.
The character we’ve seen could be Cobb — the area in the first official Mandalorian photo certainly looks like it could be Tatooine — but his armor is much better shape than Boba’s would be; the helmet should be dented and the whole set should show signs of acid damage from its time in the Sarlacc. He could’ve cleaned it up, but surely acid marks don’t come out that easily.
Which characters are likely to appear?
We probably won’t see any major characters from the movies, since the actors who play the main human characters aren’t the right ages and they most won’t be explored in-depth until after Episode 9 is released on Dec. 20, 2019.
However, we might see characters from the CGI animated series. Sabine Wren from Rebels is a Mandalorian. That show was set before A New Hope, but it ended with a flash-forward to a point after Return of Jedi. We saw Sabine embarking on a quest with former Jedi Ahsoka Tano to find the lost Ezra Bridger.
That’s highly speculative, but it’d be amazing to see Sabine (and maybe Ahsoka) in live action for the first time. It’s unlikely to be the show’s main narrative thrust since it’d demand that viewers have a certain level of foreknowledge prior to starting The Mandalorian.
One of the announced cast members, Omid Abtahi, was the voice actor for Mandalorian cadet Amis in two episodes of The Clone Wars, as noted by the Ion Cannon podcast. He may bring his role from the CGI animated show into live action, providing a cool link between the Mandalorians of the prequel era and the time following Return of the Jedi.
What other stories could they draw from?
Star Wars 1313 was a video game that got shelved when Disney shut down all projects at LucasArts — Lucasfilm’s game development group — in 2013. We saw an impressive demo for Uncharted-style adventure before that, featuring actor Wilson Bethel (who recently hit the target in Daredevil season 3).
It would’ve seen players exploring the bowels of the city planet Coruscant — the title was a reference to its grimy underworld Level 1313 (which later appeared in The Clone Wars)
After it was canceled, we found out that Boba Fett was going to be the star and that Kennedy later agreed the concept art was ‘unbelievable.’
‘So our attitude is, we don’t want to throw any of that stuff away. It’s gold,’ she told Slashfilm in 2015. ‘And it’s something we’re spending a lot of time looking at, pouring through, discussing, and we may very well develop those things further. We definitely want to.’
In that same interview, Kennedy noted that Lucasfilm read through the material Lucas developed for canceled TV show Star Wars: Underworld, which was announced in 2005 and canned in 2010 due to budget constraints. It was to be set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and would have tied into 1313.