If Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is an ending — the culmination of more than 40 years of storytelling — then The Mandalorian is a beginning. It's the future of Lucasfilm as we know it, a live-action series set within a galaxy far, far away and available on the forthcoming Disney+ streaming platform. On Sunday (April 14), those responsible for bringing the top-secret show to life took to the Star Wars Celebration stage to reveal a few tantalizing tidbits and share exclusive footage with enthusiastic attendees.
Executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni — a creative duo with a brotherly Tom and Jerry rapport — confirmed that The Mandalorian takes place "about five years after Return of the Jedi." So, following the Rebellion's victory there's peace throughout the galaxy, right? Wrong. If anything, the exclusive footage we saw hinted that "death and chaos" are still abound. And more so than anything: confusion. In many ways, it's a bit darker than what we've seen from Star Wars thus far, like Game of Thrones-lite — complete with battles, blasters, Stormtrooper skull-bashing, and an intriguing score from Oscar- and Grammy- winning Ludwig Göransson.
"The idea of that world after The Return of the Jedi and what would happen and what sort of characters would survive, and what it was like until the new Republic took over," said Favreau of his initial pitch for the series. "You have vestiges of the Empire. You have only the strong surviving. You have chaos taking over the galaxy."
Favreau took inspiration from Westerns — the works of Sergio Leone were particularly important, actor Pedro Pascal said — and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. According to Pascal, his titular Mandalorian has "got a lot of Clint Eastwood in him."
As such, he's especially rough around the edges. He's a "mysterious, lone gunfighter" who roams the outer reaches of the galaxy in his ship, the Razor Crest, looking for bounty. And he's got a questionable moral character. "He's a badass," Pascal adds.
Pascal was joined by co-stars Gina Carano and Carl Weathers during the panel. Carano plays a character named Cara Dune, an ex-Rebel Shock Trooper. "I'm a bit of a loner," Carano said. "I’m having a bit of trouble reintegrating myself into society."
Favreau was quick to note how Carano performed a lot of her own stunts in the series. "Gina is a gamer," he said, joking that the only person who didn't have fun on set was Carano's stunt double because "she didn't get to work at all." Sizzle reel footage showed Cara wielding a blaster and hitting the dirt in some intense action sequences; during one stunt, Carano said, she had to drag a character from a battle field to safety — and she had to film multiple takes.
Meanwhile, Weathers plays Greef, the head of a guild of bounty hunters. Pascal's Mandalorian typically goes to him for bounties — but there's one job in particular that sets off the chain of events that kicks off the series. "He's looking for someone to bring a product to a client. It's worth a lot," Weathers said. "Guess who he finds? He finds a bounty hunter named Mandalorian. He hires this guy, sends him out there, and Mando does what needs to be done."
That "client" is presumably played by German documentarian Werner Herzog. In an extended scene screened exclusively for Celebration attendees, the Mandalorian is seen meeting with Greef at a local cantina. Greef tells him his options: "I have a bail jumper, a bail jumper, another bail jumper," he says, dropping "pucks" onto the table. (These pucks have necessary information about the bounties.) "That won’t even cover fuel these days," the masked bounty hunter says, disgruntled.
But there's one more offer on the table — a big-money job that Greef wouldn't give to just anyone in the guild; this one needs to be kept on the down-low. "Underworld?" the Mandalorian asks.
Greef sends him to a location where Herzog's character is waiting, along with a small team of Stormtroopers who've seen better days. Another character, who Herzog introduces as Dr. Pershing (spelling unconfirmed), enters the scene unexpectedly. After some initial tensions — at one point everyone pulls out their blasters, the odds are four-to-one, and the Mandalorian replies, "I like those odds" — they get down to business. Herzog's unnamed character pulls out a piece of beskar (or, Mandalorian iron) as a down-payment for the job. Of course, there's more where that came from if the Mandalorian brings back the mark alive.
“Deliver yes, alive, although I have knowledge that bounty hunting is a complicated profession," Herzog says. “Proof of termination is also accepted. For a lower fee."
However, there's no puck for this job; the only information the Mandalorian has is the mark's last-reported location and four digits of an eight-digit ID. The Mandalorian takes the job, but before he leaves, Herzog's character has a few parting words for him: "It’s good for beskar to be back in the hands of a Mandalorian."
And that is where the adventure begins.
For Pascal, the chance to join the Star Wars universe is "fantasy fulfillment," adding, "I was born in '75, so I am a product of a Star Wars imagination."
A behind-the-scenes video also showed the diverse group of directors working on the eight-episode series, including Favreau, Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow. "Everyone was from a different perspective, a different generation," Favreau said. "We love pulling all the different stories together. For people who have been fans for 40 years, we have a lot in there for you. But these are new characters and new stories, so it's a great way to invite new people in."
Fukuyama added that The Mandalorian has "the heart that Star Wars has always been about." It also has a shot of the Mandalorian riding a Dewback, if that's more your speed.
The Mandalorian hits Disney+ on November 12, 2019.