Congregating at the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, executive producer and writer Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book) and executive producer and director Dave Filoni were welcomed onto the stage like rock stars with erupting applause and tangible excitement. They were joined alongside cast Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano and Carl Weathers, and we were spoiled for news and teasers. Set between the events of Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and inspired by the popular character Boba Fett, the series follows a lone Mandalorian gunfighter. Here’s everything we learned from the press conference.
You don’t need to have seen other Star Wars films to understand it
The prospect of watching a new Star Wars instalment can seem a bit daunting to those who have never sat down to watch the whole franchise, or maybe have a patchy memory of the narrative. But Jon Favreau insists that this is going to be something anyone can jump into. He said: “For the people who have been fans for 40 years, we got a lot in there for you. But these are new characters and new stories so it’s a great way to invite more people in and get them on the merry-go-round. It’s like Iron Man where if you weren’t a fan, you can jump in, but if you’ve been a fan we got a lot of details in [there].”
The show will premiere on the launch day of Disney Plus
There’s no better way to get people to sign up to a brand new streaming service than to launch a hugely anticipated Star Wars series on the same day. Sure, Disney Plus is also going to have all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, but no doubt attention will be on The Mandalorian on launch day (November 12).
…but, you won’t be able to binge watch it
According to Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly, only the first episode will be available to watch on launch day, with the possibility of a second one being added. At least this will allow fans to savour each episode, as Favreau has promised there will be plenty of detail in there for fans. It will also help prevent spoilers for those who want to watch at a slower, non-bingey pace.
Yes, I just checked with two other sources. Only the first episode of The Mandalorian will be released on Disney+ on Nov. 12.
Maaaaaybe they’ll decide to add a second, but it won’t be the full binge. https://t.co/l0IotlEmUA
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) April 14, 2019
There’s a diverse mix of directors
Favreau and Filoni recruited a mixed bag of directors to take the lead on individual episodes, providing that they met one condition: they had to be a Star Wars buff. Favreau said: “The primary prerequisite was that they had to be a fan of Star Wars and love Star Wars.” The stellar team consists of Dave Filoni, now taking on live-action after writing episodes for the animated series Star Wars: The Clones Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Nigerian-American director Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), and Canadian director Deborah Chow who has directed episodes of Jessica Jones, Mr Robot and Better Call Saul.
As Favreau spoke about the show being something for both old and new fans alike, bringing in different directors all with one common love of Star Wars will no doubt help bring accessibility and diversity to the show.
It’s got an army of fans playing storm troopers
It’s probably everything you dream of when you dedicate part of your life to being in a stormtrooper-fan army; dreams undoubtedly came true for the 501st Legion when Lucasfilm brought in the fan organisation to be used in a scene with loads of stormtroopers. Filoni said: “The thing I know about Star Wars fans is that in all honesty a lot of the costumes you guys made are even better than what we see onscreen. So I had no doubts that they would look great. And they act like Stormtroopers. They know what to do. Favreau added: “What’s so funny is how surprised some of them look because they weren’t told what this was for.”
For a scene with lots of stormtroopers, Lucasfilm brought the 501st Legion in to be in the series. First time the fan organization has been used in this capacity.#TheMandalorian #StarWarsCelebration pic.twitter.com/j8LSjwN4Pu
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) April 14, 2019
Jon Favreau was inspired by old westerns and samurai films
It’s common knowledge among Star Wars fans that George Lucas sought the rights to the 1936 sci-fi adventure film serial Flash Gordon, but instead channelled many elements derived from the series into something brand new: Star Wars. Favreau is also looking back at classic cinema for inspiration. He said: “The old Westerns and the samurai films, getting back to that imagery on a scale that felt like when it began, with planets that were separated and each world was different, it felt like that time in history that was so fertile for the samurai films, back when the time of Seven Samurai, when the age of the warrior was starting to end, or post-Civil War in the old West, when order had to be brought to the universe. And in Mando’s world, we had talked a lot about that.”
The cast finally gave us the scoop on their characters
Pedro Pascal, known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Narcos plays the titular role of The Mandalorian, and though he mostly remained tight-lipped on the role, he did offer some insight, saying that the character is very Clint Eastwood, and that he watched films of Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa to prepare for the role.
He said: “The Mandalorian is a mysterious, lone gunfighter from the outer reaches of the galaxy. Some might say he has questionable moral character. He’s in line with some of our best Westerns, some good samurai, all of the good stuff. And he’s a badass.”
He added: “Jon asked me to come in to meet with him on ‘something Star Wars.’ I came into the room and it was wall-to-wall story illustrations. I was born in ’75, so I am a product of Star Wars fandom. So I was looking at it, saying ‘Who am I auditioning for? The bug?’ And they were like ‘You’re the Mandalorian.’”
Featuring alongside him is MMA fighter Gina Carano who plays an ex-Rebel shock trooper. On reflection of the gravitas of the new role, she said: “I have to say when I got this job I instantly was like, ‘Oh my gosh I’m going to be a part of a whole other community”.
Rocky alumni Carl Weathers also features in the series, playing Greef, the commander of a team of bounty hunters. He said: “Of all the things I’ve been involved with, I don’t think anything has been on the level of this.”