THE MANDALORIAN

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...

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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.

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