AS THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE SUITS UP FOR THE MANDALORIAN, RICHARD EDWARDS UNLEASHES THE BOTHAN SPIES TO FIND THE KEY INTEL ON THE HOTTEST NEW TV SHOW OF 2019...
Live-action Star Wars is heading to TV. The must-see show of 2019 kicks off our epic rundown of next year’s unmissables.
THE FORCE AWAKENS FEELS A long time ago… and not just because it takes place in a galaxy far, far away. It marked such a triumphant return to the universe George Lucas built that it briefly felt like the Disney incarnation of Lucasfilm could do no wrong – either critically or commercially. Then The last Jedi arrived last December and split the fanbase like a lightsaber through Darth Maul’s midriff. Things got even less rosy when solo did the unthinkable in May – it became the first live-action star wars movie to flop at the box office, making less than half of rogue one’s take, and a mere 20% of The Force Awakens’. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger came to believe the world wasn’t quite ready for a new star wars film every 12 months .... “I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast,” he told the hollywood reporter in September. “I think we’re going to be a little bit more careful about volume and timing.” So while we can expect a pullback on the movies (though it’s full speed ahead on episode IX and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss’s mysterious new saga, the standalones appear to be permanently frozen in Carbonite), a live-action TV series feels like enticingly unexplored territory. It’s also going to be one of the flagship shows on the new Disney+ streaming service (like Marvel’s proposed Winter Soldier/Falcon spin-off ), so, y’know, there’s quite a lot of pressure on them to get this right. Here’s everything we know so far...
If the suit looks familiar, that’s because it’s the battle armour of the Mandalorian race, the Swiss Army Knife of bounty hunter couture made famous by Jango and Boba Fett in the star wars movies.
According to one of showrunner Jon Favreau’s Instagram posts, “The
Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order”. That’s something of an unknown hinterland in official star wars chronology, where we know little for certain aside from the fact the First Order will eventually rise and Ben Solo will grow up to become a bad ’un.
Favreau was even more specific about the time period in an interview with nerdist back in May, when he revealed, “It’s about seven years after the Battle of Yavin.” That places it three years after return of The Jedi, and two years after the Battle of Jakku. That’s the scrap that left those Star Destroyers strewn over the surface of Rey’s home planet and marked the Empire’s final defeat to the New Republic before a peace treaty was signed, prompting the remnants of the Imperial top brass to skedaddle off to the Unknown Regions, ultimately to found the First Order.
Favreau’s post continues: “We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic….” If ever a phrase suggested “space western”, it’s this. We’re thinking of the sort of lawless criminal underworld that we glimpsed in the Mos Eisley Cantina and Jabba’s Palace, and was one of the main reasons the watching world was instantly hooked on star wars in 1977. In fact, it offers potential for the sort of shades-of-grey storytelling that’s more suited to the multiple episodes of a TV show than a single movie or trilogy.
Leaning into the space western also seems the most surefire way of attracting back any old-school star wars fans who were left disillusioned by The last Jedi. Conveniently, a lot of those older fans are likely to have plenty of disposable cash to spend on new subscription services – exactly the sort of people the House of Mouse will be eyeing up to make Disney+ a viable proposition. They’re rumoured to be spending $100 million on an initial eight-episode run, so will be looking to secure an instant return on their investment.
As with everything that comes out of Lucasfilm, we can expect it to look good. Visuals will be provided by ILM TV, a new offshoot of the effects legends, based out of London.
The show’s the brainchild of showrunner Favreau, director of elf, The Jungle Book and the first two Iron Man movies. He’s also appeared in the star wars universe, having voiced Mandalorian warrior Pre Vizsla (it was clearly destiny...) in The clone wars, and played four-armed pilot Rio Durant in solo. He’s so invested in the project that he started work before it even had a green light. “I actually wrote a lot of the scripts before I even had the job, to be honest with you,” he told nerdist. “I wrote four to show them what the show would be and I’ve been thinking about doing this show for a long time.”
The roster of directors on season one is impressive, most impressive.
For star wars die-hards, the show’s coolest signing is Dave Filoni, the clone wars/rebels showrunner and walking Wookieepedia who’ll make a live-action debut with The Mandalorian’s first episode. Other helmers include Jurassic
world star Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Jones’s Deborah Chow, Dope’s Rick Famuyiwa and
Thor: ragnarok’s brilliant Taika Waititi.
The man wearing the iconic Mandalorian armour will be Pedro Pascal, a man so charismatic as Oberyn Martell (aka the Red Viper) in Game of Thrones that it seems like a crime to cover his head with a helmet – albeit one as iconic as the Mandalorian’s. We know that he’ll be joined by mixed martial artist and
Deadpool star Gina Carano in an as-yet unconfirmed part, while there are rumours of roles for John Leguizamo, Carl Weathers and – most intriguingly of all – eccentric director/ actor Werner Herzog.
As for the identity of the eponymous Mandalorian? It would make legions of fans squeal with delight if it was Boba Fett – and it is possible. The Mandalorian’s weapon looks remarkably like one Boba Fett brandished in the (non-canon!) star wars holiday special, while sFX certainly wouldn’t bet against the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter escaping from the Sarlacc – Pablo Hidalgo of official canon arbiters the Lucasfilm Story Group says, “Boba Fett is both simultaneously alive and dead,” until someone writes a story that makes a call either way. There’s a reference in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels to a suit of Mandalorian armour found on Tatooine, “pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid”, which certainly opens the door for Fett.
We think Fett’s an unlikely candidate, however. For starters, though similar, this armour is markedly different to Boba’s, while Favreau has teased that the show features “all new characters and different planets.” Even if that’s misdirection it seems unlikely that Lucasfilm would have spent years developing both a (now-abandoned) Boba Fett movie and TV show in tandem. Far more likely is a new character – or even Cobb Vanth, who crops up in Boba Fett’s togs in Aftermath...
The Mandalorian is likely to air on Disney+ in the Us later this year.
Does this weapon look a bit familiar? George Lucas pays Favreau a visit on set.
Favreau as the warrior Pre Vizsla in The Clone Wars.