Not sure if it’s a sign from above but on a day where it felt like we in the northern hemisphere are living on Hoth, Disney+ is now available and with that the long awaited Star Wars related series, The Mandalorian. Set in a time after the fall of the Empire, the first offering of Disney’s new streaming service, The Mandalorian is like an olive branch to any Star Wars fans who may have soured on the franchise with the latest trilogy.
The Mandalorian is a stunning addition to Star Wars lore and Chapter 1 evokes many visual and auditory cues from the movies to make viewers comfortable in what is a shot at redemption for the Fett characters. The Mandalorian is essentially the Man with No Name in space and re-establishes the cool factor that Boba Fett had when he first graced the silver screen over thirty years ago. Boba met a disappointing end and any hope that may have been raised with Jango Fett appearing in the prequels was dashed with one quick swing of a lightsaber before he could do anything worthy of the character’s hype.
The Mandalorian expands on a few things established in the previous movies. There is so much that’s familiar and yet so new. It’s obvious that series creator and scribe of the first episode, Jon Favreau has an obvious love for Star Wars and the character in particular. What Favreau was able to do for Iron Man it appears that he is doing for this corner of the Star Wars universe.
There is also a Judge Dredd quality to The Mandalorian as Pedro Pascal, like Karl Urban in the excellent aforementioned flick, never shows his face in the first episode. An unusual choice for an actor of his stature but keeping Pascal masked helps to keep the focus on him as a bounty hunter. The iconic Mandalorian mask keeps you grounded in the world Favreau is weaving. And what a world it is. Pascal’s Mandalorian is tasked with hunting down a bounty and along the way runs across various individuals that help him get closer to his target. One in particular, IG-11 – voiced by Taika Waititi – is a throwback to IG-88 from Episode V and adds some deadpan humour to go alongside Pascal’s stoic lead character.
With a cast that includes, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers and in later episodes Ming Na Wen, The Mandalorian takes the best elements of what makes Star Wars so great and pushes them to even greater heights. There is enough spectacle, even on the small screen to keep viewers interested and The Mandalorian’s triumph is bittersweet by highlighting what could have been. Small character driven series featuring new and familiar Star Wars characters could flourish on Disney’s new service. Imagine a Darth Bane series or even one with an older Luke Skywalker starring Mark Hamill. How amazing could that have been?
Enough wishful thinking though. What we do have is a visually pleasing, well written show featuring a version of a beloved character from the Star Wars universe. The episodes cost a fortune and you can see and hear every penny during the episode’s run time. With that level of execution and the chance to create more mythology around some of the more popular aspects of the Star Wars universe, it appears as though the best is yet to come.