We’ve said it numerous times on the Star Wars in Poor Taste podcast: 2019 is possibly the best year for Star Wars, ever. There are more comics set to release than any other year alongside tons of new books like Alphabet Squadron. A brand new video game that isn’t Battlefront, by way of Respawn Entertainment called Jedi: Fallen Order, drops this year. The first ever Star Wars theme park opens, and of course, the grand daddy of them all, Star Wars Episode IX finally hits theaters.
Yet, with all this tantalizing new Star Wars content on the way, what’s got me most excited this year is Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian, set to debut on the new streaming service Disney+.
Aside from the cast, a few behind the scenes photos, and a very vague synopsis, not much is known about the first ever live action Star Wars TV series (we don’t talk about The Holiday Special outside of the month of December). What we do know is Pedro Pascal plays the titular Mandalorian, the series takes place in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and will follow “the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic…” Yep, that about sums up every thing that is confirmed about the new series.
Aside from a few comics, books, and Star Wars: Resistance, the period between the original trilogy and sequel trilogy has been largely unexplored in the Star Wars universe and has been utterly ignored thus far in live-action. There’s so much untapped potential with this time period that Star Wars fans are rightfully teeming with excitement over the possibilities this new series holds. And since I may be teeming with the most excitement (and I host a Star Wars podcast, shameless plug), I figure now was the time to share my wish list for The Mandalorian.
Bring familiar faces to live action that have been confined elsewhere
One of the biggest and best surprises about Solo: A Star Wars Story was the inclusion of Darth Maul (spoiler alert, I guess). For casual fans, this was the first time Maul had been seen since somehow not properly utilizing the high ground in The Phantom Menace. For more hardcore fans, this signaled a willingness from Disney to make direct connections between their smaller properties and the bigger projects, like connecting Maul’s ongoing storyline from The Clone Wars animated series into a live action film.
I’d love to see Disney take this same willingness to The Mandalorian and bring more unexpected, familiar faces to life. There are so many amazing characters that have been thoroughly developed in comics, cartoons, and novels that would make amazing additions to The Mandalorian for casual fans while making the more enlightened fans go nuts. Imagine if Sana Starros, Tam Posla, or remnants of S.C.A.R. Squadron suddenly made appearances in the show. Personally, there are two characters that I think make perfect sense for this series: Doctor Aphra, who operates exclusively in the seedy underworld the show is set in, and Thrawn, who launched himself into the Unknown Regions and has been MIA ever since. Just the thought of seeing either of those two make even a cameo appearance is redirecting the blood flow in my body.
Of course, I would not complain about seeing Han Solo or Luke Skywalker make an appearance, but that’s so unnecessary, and would take the spotlight away from new characters. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t force (bad pun intended) a connection to the original or sequel trilogy
The Mandalorian doesn’t need to tie into the films in any way to be a success. Fans seem to share this unquenchable thirst for every Star Wars story ever told to boast a ground breaking new facet of lore that justifies the story’s existence. For certain stories, like Rogue One, that connection to the greater Star Wars narrative is absolutely necessary for the specific story being told. When the connection isn’t a necessity, though, it’s best to focus on the current narrative being crafted rather than connecting to a story that’s already known.
Rather than explain the origin of the First Order or reveal Leia’s rise to prominence in the New Republic, The Mandalorian should fixate solely on creating a legendary new story of its own. I won’t hate any connective tissue between The Mandalorian and the existing trilogies, I’m just worried that prioritizing ties to the Skywalker saga will dilute what could be a promising narrative playground. Easter eggs and subtle references like what Jon Favreau has been teasing on Instagram are great — I just don’t want to see The Mandalorian‘s plot bogged down by forced (not intended this time) linkage to the established trilogies.
While direct narrative connections to the existing saga make me anxious, the series still needs to capture that classic Star Wars feel.
Retain that classic Star Wars humor — but drop the corny, almost cringeworthy humor found in some films and shows
One specific complaint I’ve heard about the sequel trilogy that I have had qualms with are those who love to claim “There’s too much humor in these movies. Star Wars isn’t funny.” Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen A New Hope?! The jail breakout scene on the Death Star alone is legitimately hilarious. “Everything’s perfectly alright now, we’re fine here, uh, we’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?” Comedic gold. “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” Grade-A comedy. The most hysterical part? If you pay close attention, Han shouts “oh no! He’s loose!” AS HE TOSSES CHEWBACCA A BLASTER. Seriously, that entire scene may be one of the most witty, crafty, and hysterical scenes in cinema.
All the comedy in that scene — and in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, for that matter — fits perfectly within the Star Warsuniverse without feeling unnatural or campy. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say the same for The Last Jedi and The Clone Wars’ brands of humor, which both feature everything from “your mom” jokes to immature quips from battle droids better suited for a second grade classroom. The Mandalorian should have moments of genuine humor — keyword genuine –– but that humor has to fit in the universe. Humor has an undeniable place in Star Wars, but it has to be subtle — not the over-the-top, borderline slapstick humor that plagued The Last Jedi and certain parts of The Clone Wars.
To me, subtle humor is one of the most recognizable aspects of Star Wars and is legitimately a must-have for any Star Wars story. As much as I want this series to be recognizable, though, perhaps it is best to take the franchise into the unknown.
Take this story into the Unknown Regions
Honestly, I haven’t disliked any of the new Star Wars films. Sure, The Last Jedi has plenty of problems and Solo: A Story Wars story was — actually, f*ck it. I love Solo. I was captivated during every second of the movie, and I think it is the second best of the new films behind Rogue One. Don’t you dare @ me. Anywho, as much as these two films are adored (and, sadly, hated), they stayed within the confines of the known galaxy. The Mandalorian has a prime opportunity to explore the Unknown Regions.
We know the titular Mandalorian operates within the galaxy’s underworld. We know the story takes place in the Outer Rim, just a few parsecs away from the Unknown Regions. So why not take viewers to completely new planets? Sure, seeing Sullust in live action would be great, and a shot of Nar Shadda would have me and plenty of other die-hards scouring the landscape for a glimpse of Kyle Katarn or Sana Starros — but doesn’t the magic of Star Wars lie within the unknown? Aren’t we all, as fans, so encapsulated with this silly franchise for the strange, unfamiliar worlds, characters, and ideas that are presented? The Mandalorian can use the Unknown Regions to create iconic new species, planets, and locales of its own by creating never-before-seen Star Wars moments. Plus, we last saw Thrawn in the Unknown Regions (see point #1).
Give us more colorful droids, but don’t let them steal the spotlight
L3, BB-8, and K-2SO are incredible, scene stealing droids that provide excellent comic to relief to their respective films. Unfortunately, both L3 and K-2SO end up being some of the biggest highlights of their respective films. I’m all for well-executed comedy (see point #2), but what has always drawn me to Star Wars is the humanity and integral flaws of each character — not the, uh, droidmanity? Yeah, that’s a word.
While Mandalorian will certainly feature more iconic droids (like the pink R-5 that serendipitously malfunctions in A New Hope), those droids shouldn’t be the center of attention. Rather than focus on giving the droids a vibrant personality to wow audiences, I hope The Mandalorian has human characters that are quirky, humorous (to an extent! see point 3), and heartfelt the way that both L3 and K2 are. After all, I am a person. And, well, I don’t relate too much to artificial-intelligence-driven droids.
BONUS: GIVE ME MORE PODRACING!!!!!
The prequel trilogy has so many problems. Awkward scenes of mushy-gusy romanticism, annoying droid dialogue, sand — but we must all celebrate the brilliance that is podracing. My Star Wars in Poor Taste co-hosts hate it, but I LOVE podracing. As great as Maul’s showdown with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn is, the most exciting part of The Phantom Menace is undoubtedly the podracing sequence. I. WANT. MORE.
It has been more than 20 years since the 1998 release of Episode I — can you imagine how awesome podracing would look with modern CGI and camera techniques?! I don’t care how it happens, a podracing sequence in The Mandalorian would be a dream come true.
What do you think? Is there anything you’re dying to see in The Mandalorian? Let us know in the comments!