Following April's Star Wars Celebration in Chicago (SWCC), there's been a swirl of news surrounding the first live-action spin-off series from the franchise, which will be called "The Mandalorian."
After the disappointing performance of "Solo" at the box office last year, the planned Boba Fett movie to be directed by James Mangold was cancelled. However, Fett is a well-liked character amongst fans, so a series with connections to his story would more than likely prove popular.
What's it about?
Based on what's been officially published on social media and recently described at SWCC, "The Mandalorian" is about a lone gunfighter on the Outer Reaches of the galaxy, away from the New Republic. The series is set approximately five years after "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" — so, some time before the events of "The Force Awakens." Chances are that some characters from the original trilogy will feature in the plot.
With the destruction of the Death Star above the forest moon of Endor and the recent fall of the Empire, the "Galaxy Far, Far Away" will likely be a galactic wild west in which a young New Republic grapples with its growing pains.
The planet Mandalore and its indigenous population are well-known elements of Star Wars lore. However, in the original and prequel films, both Jango Fett and his clone/son Boba Fett wore Mandalorian armor, despite the fact that they were not from that planet. Consequently, the government of Mandalore disavowed any connection to Jango, claiming he was simply "a common bounty hunter" who somehow acquired the armor through unofficial and illegal channels.
Speculation is rife as to whether we'll learn more about that story and whether the new series will link to the animated series "Star Wars Resistance" or "Star Wars Rebels." A character in "Rebels," Sabine Wren, is arguably the most prominent Mandalorian in the current Star Wars canon, and her arc helped establish why there are no characters in Mandalorian armour other than Boba Fett in the original trilogy.
Who's in it?
According to IMDb, Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell in "Game of Thrones") has been tapped to play the title character, and is joined by an impressive cast. Notable actors we'll see in "The Mandalorian" include Gina Carano (Angel Dust in "Deadpool"), Carl Weathers (Dillon in "Predator"), Giancarlo Esposito (Gustavo Fring in "Better Call Saul"), Emily Swallow (Amara in "Supernatural"), Bill Burr (Patrick Kuby in "Breaking Bad"), Omid Abtahi (Detective Abbasi in "Better Call Saul"), Werner Herzog (The Zec in "Jack Reacher"), and Nick Nolte (Four Leaf Tayback in "Tropic Thunder").
Abtahi voiced a Mandalorian named Amis in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which could possibly mean he's reprising that role in the new series.
Taika Waititi — who not only directed "Thor: Ragnarok," but also played Korg — is providing the voice of IG-11, who looks identical to another character from the original trilogy, IG-88, from "The Empire Strikes Back." Jon Favreau, writer and executive producer of the "The Madalorian," teased an image of the character on his Instagram.
You may remember that after the Battle of Hoth, IG-88 and several other bounty hunters, were hired by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon. Unable to locate his quarry, IG-88 instead trailed his chief rival, Boba Fett, to Bespin, where the droid was nearly destroyed; however IG-88 managed to survive.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly after the "Mandalorian" panel at SWCC, Favreau confirmed that the droid he showed is an IG-Droid, but not IG-88 — it's IG-11, another, similar droid that was manufactured by Holowan Laboratories for assassinations..
Favreau later posted an image on Instagram of Waititi recording his voiceover.
We know that Weathers' character is called Greef Carga, and he's the head of a bounty hunters' guild that has enlisted the Mandalorian to seek out an item of high value for a client. Weathers has described his character as "nefarious," and Favreau has remarked that many characters in "The Mandalorian" have some moral ambiguity to them.
"Of all the things I've been involved with, I don't think anything has come close to this," Weathers said at SWCC after seeing finished footage of the show for the first time. "How can you not react to that?" Favreau said afterward. "It's beautiful hearing the fans react to it."
Carano's character is called Cara Dune, a former Rebel Shock Trooper who is having trouble acclimating to civilian life now that the Galactic Civil War is over. The production called for the most secrecy of any job in Carano's career, the actress said at SWCC — but she finally got to describe her character to the public as "a bit of a loner" who struggles with reintegrating into society.
Imperial Stormtroopers will also be in the series, although the context is not known. During SWCC, Dave Filoni, who directed the first episode, said he and Favreau realized they didn't have enough sets of stormtrooper armor to complete a shot. They made some calls and local members of the Imperial fan cosplay group, the 501st Legion, answered, arriving on set, much to their surprise, to be part of filming.
To become a member of the 501st — there are units across the world — members' Imperial Stormtrooper armor has to be 100% screen accurate, according to the group's strict rules. So, the members of the Southern California Garrison had, for all intents and purposes, exactly what the Lucasfilm Ltd. prop department needed, with the added bonus of now owning a coveted collectible. "The minute they left that day all their armor was screen-used," Filoni said. "So that was pretty cool."
Favreau has teased a few pics from the new series, including this item that fans might recognize as the computer memory core that Willrow Hood carried in "The Empire Strikes Back."
Favreau has also shown a weapon that was last seen in the hands of Boba Fett in the much-maligned "Star Wars Holiday Special."
In addition to Filoni, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa and Waititi will all direct first season episodes.
Footage shown at SWCC, met with rapturous applause from the audience, suggests that "The Mandalorian" will indeed show the darker, gritty fringes of the galaxy, the real scum and villainy. The Mandalorian's gunship, Razorcrest, was also shown, together with images of twi'leks, Jawas, Rodians, Dewbacks and a character who might have been the bounty hunter Bossk, also seen in "The Empire Strikes Back," or possibly another Trandoshan.
"The Mandalorian" will be available from day 1 on Disney+, along with the original and prequel "Star Wars" films, plus "The Force Awakens" and "Rogue One"; "The Last Jedi" and "Solo" following at a later date.
During a red carpet interview at SWCC, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed several details about additional "Star Wars" content on the platform. Alan Tudyk, who played the re-programmed Imperial security droid K-2SO in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," will reprise his role in the still-untitled show focusing on Cassian Andor and starring Diego Luna.
Kennedy also confirmed that there are more "Star Wars" shows currently in development, both live action and animated, including the new season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" that was first announced at the San Diego Comic-Con and concludes the series with 12 brand new episodes.
In addition, Kennedy also confirmed the development of a new, untitled documentary series that will showcase the behind-the-scenes teams who bring the "Star Wars" movies to life, plus the possibility, at least, of a "Knights of the Old Republic" series.
"Game of Thrones" writers David Benioff and DB Weiss are set to develop a new trilogy of movies, working closely with Rian Johnson who is also developing a trilogy of his own.
Disney+ will launch on November 12 in the U.S. A monthly subscription will be available for $6.99; annual subscriptions will cost $69.99.
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