Star Wars Celebration kicked off its final day in Chicago with one of the event’s most-anticipated panels: a first look at Jon Favreau’s upcoming Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.” As with just about every offering in the Star Wars galaxy, most fans hit the panel knowing next to nothing about the ultra-secret live-action series. And while Favreau and company provided some key details, some biggies still remain (like, hey, what’s The Mandalorian’s actual name?).
Favreau, Filoni, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, Pascal, Carano, and Weathers offered some major reveals about plot, character, and tone, and even shared some incredibly well-received first looks with the crowd assembled at Wintrust Arena (more on that here). Here’s what we learned.
1. It’s Set After the Events of “The Return of the Jedi”
One bit of information that leaked out before the panel: the series’ setting, long rumored to pick up between the events of “The Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” Favreau drilled down even further, dating the start of “The Mandalorian” to pick up about five years after the events of Richard Marquand’s 1983 film, which concluded the first trilogy.
And while that might sound like a happy time — the Rebel Alliance won! — Favreau and Filoni wanted to uook at the darker edges of a galaxy that had recently gone through major upheaval. Favreau said that he wanted to explore “the idea of that world after ‘Return of the Jedi,’ and what would happen, and the type of characters that would survive, and what it was like before the new Republic took over.”
He added, “You have only the strong surviving, you have chaos taking over in the galaxy.” (Filoni did cut in to add something that sounds key: “Yes, good chaos.”
2. It Shares Tonal and Genre Similarities With George Lucas’ Original Films
In the midst of this good chaos, Favreau said he looked to the kind of “scum and villainy” that populated the universe in George Lucas’ first film, imagining their lives after the regime change.
To accomplish that, Favreau spent a lot of time referring to the classic films of Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa — Pascal added that watching many of their titles were part of his preparation for the role — and compared the feel of Pascal’s character to a Clint Eastwood type. Think “Man With No Name,” and just put him on a strange desert planet, instead of the old West.
3. The Mandalorian Is a “Badass” Who Might Not Be All Bad
Billed as a “mysterious lone gunfighter” by Pascal, the series opens with the eponymous Mandalorian apparently in need of a job in a fluctuating economy. “Some might say he has questionable moral character, in line with some of our best Westerns, and some good samurai [films],” Pascal explained. “And he’s a badass.”
And, no, he still doesn’t have a name, though everyone seemed pleased to unveil the name of his ship: The Razorcrest, a former military ship that’s armed to the teeth.
4. Other Characters Have Their Own Dark Backgrounds
Carano and Weathers both join the Star Wars family with two new characters that seem to have their own demons they may (or may not) be trying to shake. Carano’s character is Cara Dune, and as the actress and former MMA fighter explained, she’s an “ex-Shock Trooper” who is “having some trouble reintegrating myself into society.”
Early looks at her character in action showed off a skilled fighter (Carano reportedly did many of her own stunts, per usual) who appears to be on the fridges of society with no one else in her corner. In one scene, she battles The Mandalorian himself after he picks her out at a cantina (and while the footage didn’t make it quite that overt, it appears he may be gathering a team and he may be keen on Cara joining up).
As Greef Karga, Weathers is the man who sets The Mandalorian on his first mission. “He is a guy who is running this group of bounty hunters, he’s kind of the head of this guild of bounty hunters,” Weathers said. “There seems to be a lot of nefarious people. … He’s looking for someone to go after a product that he wants to bring to a client that’s worth a lot and that’s very valuable, and guess who he finds? He finds a bounty hunter named ‘Mandalorian.'”
5. You Don’t Have to Be a Fan to Enjoy It
Although the scenes shown at Celebration offer a treasure trove of beloved Star Wars characters and locations in a new context — from appearances by fellow bounty hunter IG-88, fritzy droid R5-D4, and weapons that harken back to Boba Fett’s own arsenal — Favreau promised that the series will also appeal to Star Wars newbies. It’s something “anyone could sit down in their seats and enjoy,” he said in a behind-the-scenes clip that showed off the world-building of the new series.
Still, he added, “If you’ve been a fan for 40 years, there’s a lot in here for you.”
The series’ all-star cast also includes Nick Nolte, Werner Herzog, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, and Omid Abtahi. “Star Wars” regular Dave Filoni will direct episodes, along with Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, and Rick Famuyiwa.
“The Mandalorian” will premiere on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ when it launches November 12.