Who is that masked Mandalorian?
François Duhamel/Lucasfilm/Disney Plus
After more than 40 years, the Star Wars saga comes to an explosive climax next month in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m as excited about that as any lifelong Star Wars fan. But before that, we get to see a tantalizing new chapter begin for Star Wars — The Mandalorian.Inspired by iconic Star Wars character Boba Fett, The Mandalorian is one of the first all-new titles on the Disney Plus streaming service launching Tuesday. Like the infamously taciturn Boba Fett, the show is shrouded in mystery. But I’ve decided to lay out what I hope to see from the sharp-shooting, western-inspired adventure show.On your marks, get Fett…Fett your hands dirtyThe main Star Wars saga gives us epic space battles between empires and heroes, and that’s the way it should be. The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker give us the big adventures for the big screen. But The Mandalorian will stream to smaller screens, which is an opportunity for a different kind of story.The Mandalorian’s protagonist is no star-crossed Skywalker. According to the trailer, he’s a sharp-shooting bounty hunter who hangs out in the kind of places where Stormtroopers end up on spikes — in the shadowy gap between Return of the Jedi and the start of the sequel trilogy. I’m looking forward to shootouts and double crosses with a cast of nasty characters who are quick on the draw, down and dirty, dead or alive.
Play hard to FettThe word “Mandalorian” is never uttered in any of the Star Wars movies, but everybody knows it refers to the background of one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars history: Boba Fett. The Mandalorian is set after Fett apparently slithered to his death in the belly of a giant sand creature in Return of the Jedi. The Mandalorian’s creators have indicated that he doesn’t appear in the new show. Still, there must be some link between Fett and this new character who wears similar armor and clocks into the same profession. I’m keen to see what executive producer Jon Favreau and his team come up with.And yet — I mean — and Fett…Pedro Pascal stars in The Mandalorian.
François Duhamel/Lucasfilm/Disney Plus
Ex-Fett the unexpectedPerhaps it’s because we know so little about the masked bounty character that he has such appeal. The prequel trilogy filled in some of Boba Fett’s backstory. And to be honest, I didn’t need to see him as a small child with a feathered hairdo. All too often the prequel and the sequel trilogies have tied themselves in knots making connections that don’t really need to be there — did Anakin Skywalker really need to be the one who built C-3PO? So I’m very down to see a story that isn’t gratuitously tied to what’s come before. Hint at the link with Boba Fett, sure, but don’t stuff the show with confusing continuity and clunky cameos.As much as we love the Skywalker clan and its story, this is the first time in ages when we don’t know where a Star Wars story comes from or where it’s headed.The galaxy far, far away is a big place, and Star Wars is at its best when it takes us to uncharted planets. New destinations, new heroes, new villains and unexpected storylines will make The Mandalorian stand out.When the going Fetts toughAlthough the show has been largely kept under wraps, there’s one pretty good indicator that The Mandalorian will be a bit different: the people involved. The show is headlined by three veterans of some of our favorite TV shows of recent years. Pedro Pascal, best known for playing Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, is the man under the helmet. He’s joined by Ming-Na Wen from Agents of SHIELD and Giancarlo Esposito, who played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. MMA fighter and Deadpool actor Gina Carano will no doubt bring kick-ass action, while Taika Waititi, the man behind Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, will surely guarantee some laughs when he directs an episode.Gina Carano is one of the stars of The Mandalorian.
And then it gets… creative. I never thought I’d see Carl Weathers of Rocky and Predator in a Star Wars production, let alone Nick Nolte. But the real catch is Werner Herzog, the idiosyncratic German director and occasional actor. If these are the kind of unexpected left-field choices made by the creators, then who knows where this show will go.A Fett-ful of dollarsFrom the start, Star Wars has always owed a lot to the western. Saga creator George Lucas also borrowed elements from samurai stories, war movies and ancient myths before layering a colorful coating of space opera on top, and that’s what gave Star Wars such mythical resonance.But my favorite ingredient in this mythic melange is the taste of the western genre. Taking place on a lawless frontier filled with desert planets and shoot-outs, the faceoff between space cowboy Han Solo and remorseless bounty hunter Boba Fett is lifted from a thousand westerns. And I want to see The Mandalorian as a cool-as-ice gunslinger cleaning up lawless frontier towns and getting into shootouts before riding into the sunset.
How to watch The MandalorianIn the US, Disney Plus launches Tuesday for $7 a month or $70 for the annual plan, which works out to $5.83 a month. The service launches in Australia on Nov. 19, while the launch date for the UK and parts of Europe is March 31, 2020. Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch The Mandalorian.When it is available in your neck of the galaxy, you’ll be able to watch on phones, tablets, computers, connected TVs and streaming media boxes including Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.