We are in a world without law, without rules, without apparent order, where years ago there was an organized empire, but only memories remain of that. A lone hunter arrives on stage to bring order and return to old glories. And although it seems that we are describing the premise of the story The Mandalorian, we’re actually talking about what this first series of Disney Plus, released on November 12, 2019, on the galactic landscape: what the bounty hunter meant for the star wars franchise. The saga, despite its great box office, entered a creative crisis last year, it was breaking its own rules and the apparent order of an empire (LucasFilm) of which only good memories seemed to remain. And then, Mando arrived.
However, if anyone has to thank for The Mandalorian it is George Lucas himself, who in 2005 Star Wars Celebration, (the same year that Episode III premiered, still under distribution by 20th Century Fox) announced plans to make a television series that would take place in the Star Wars universe. This series would be divided into four shows, which would cover the history of old acquaintances: Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Emperor Palpatine, C-3PO, and Bobba Fett.
The project bore the name of Star Wars: Underworld and had so much faith in it that 100 episodes of 40 minutes in length had been planned, for which they already had 50 written drafts. Even one of the scriptwriters, Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Gallactica, 2004), said the show would be like “a kind of Sopranos.” A 10-minute video was even published with part of the test footage and behind the scenes.
But then came what no one imagined: The Walt Disney Company bought LucasFilms and most of the George Lucas they never took place (basically the rerun of the franchise in theaters, but now converted to 3D, and of which only Episode I came out in theaters). However, Star Wars Underworld had another destiny … or many:
“We don’t want to get rid of everything. Is gold. It is something that we have spent a long time reading, discussing, and we will most likely develop those ideas later, we will definitely do it”.
Kathleen Kennedy during the Star Wars junket The Force Awakens
So they didn’t get rid of the ideas, that some of the plots of Star Wars: Underworld would end up being explored in the new films: Lando Calrissian losing the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo (Solo: A Star Wars Story), the theft of the plans of the Star of death (Rogue one) and even a heartbroken story starring then-Senator Palpatine, and from which the decision to make Rey his granddaughter is believed to derive (The rise of Skywalker).
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This is the way
By the time Jon favreau was directing The Lion King, the already spoiled Disney director, presented his idea for a series focused on the Star Wars universe that would take place just about five years after Return of the Jedi, with the fall of the empire in a galaxy without law, just as the canons of the classic western dictate, or a nation without shogun as some works of samurai cinema.
On November 12, 2019, along with the arrival of Disney Plus in the United States, The Mandalorian premiered its first episode and the galaxy regained the strength it had been losing in its feature films for cinema. The world created by Favreau was a return to the western genre that had characterized Episode IV. This time, a bounty hunter is tasked with catching a 50-year-old creature and bringing it alive to the mysterious client who hired him.
Unlike what Star Wars Underworld would have been, with endless stories and universes explored, The Mandalorian dispenses with various Star Wars elements that would seem necessary, such as royal family conflicts, political plots or large interstellar battles. Instead it presents a simple story: our protagonist is the bounty hunter known simply as Mando, he is hired to capture and kill a mysterious target, but everything changes when said target is a cute little being. His personal mission changes and he decides to protect him, making enemies to the right and left.
When, in late 2019, it seemed like the only galactic event of the year would be The rise of Skywalker, Mando and his adorable green companion arrived. The JJ Abrams film ended up burying a trilogy that never finished connecting with fans and the general public. The force seemed to be no longer in the legacy of the powerful Skywalkers, but in the group of the Mandalorians, individuals with whom anyone can feel identified: they do not carry the weight of bringing balance to force nor are they descendants of great protagonists, they are simply part of a community that tries to move forward and that when faced with a test, they must be ready to face it, without powers, without “the force”, only with the help of their family and their acquaintances.
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The good, the bad and the baby
The first season not only dominated the trends in December 2019, it gave Disney Plus his first 2020 Emmy Award nominations in 15 categories, including Best Drama Series. He lost to the second season of Succession (HBO), but won some keys such as Better visual effects, photography, editing and mixing of sound as well as music, by also Oscar winner (for Black Panther) Ludwig Göransson, who like Like Favreau, he achieves a setting that evokes the best westerns of Hollywood’s golden age.
And just like the first Star Wars movie did, when it established itself as a benchmark in terms of special effects, The Mandalorian was the first major production to dispense with the green screen: instead it makes use of virtual sets. And what are virtual sets? Imagine a set that instead of using a green screen to change it in post-production, they use large LED screens that project a virtually created background, which helps not only the photographer (to create a perfect light), but the actor, who can see what surrounds you.
And while behind the scenes the savior of the Star Wars franchise was Jon Favreau, on screen one of the creatures that overshadowed BB-8 and the Porgs made his presentation: Baby yoda. Although that is how the internet and marketing know him, he is not the legendary Jedi but a creature of the same race, only extremely young – despite being 50 years old. Baby Yoda, or The Child, is the axis of the story, that which represents a new path for Mando. Not only is it a pretext to generate millions of dolls and toys (this has always been important to the Walt Disney Company), the appearance of Baby Yoda generated a new balance in the Star Wars Force, it gave the franchise what it had been losing .
The Mandalorian is proof of what we already sensed: if Disney gives an open license – and trust – to a filmmaker like Jon Favreau, he can create a product that continues to attract the interest of fans and Hollywood talent. Its cast is headed by Pedro Pascal as Mando and by Werner Herzog as the Client; He also had the luxury of having guests such as Taika Waititi, Ming Na or Nick Nolte, led by Favreau himself, Waititi or Peyton Reed (Ant-Man). The franchise has also given an opportunity to new voices in the galaxy such as Bryce Dallas Howard (who even pays homage to a scene from Apollo 13, directed by his dad Ron Howard), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) and Deborah Chow (Mr. Robot).
The order in the Star Wars franchise seems to have found with The Mandalorian the trajectory it was looking for: the one that was neglected in the film versions of the new episodes. Jon Favreau will continue to lead the second and third seasons, Taika waititi will make a new movie for Lucasfilm and Rian Johnson (Star Wars The Last Jedi) will be in charge of a new trilogy, this after the outcry from fans, who point out that his film was the one that proposed more than just a simple fan service. All these new stories stemming from a bounty hunter willing to protect a little baby, because that’s the way.
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What does the second season hold for Mando?
For the second season – whose new chapters arrived in Mexico with the Disney Plus app – our hero has the mission of reuniting Baby Yoda with an ancient race that is believed to be extinct: the Jedi. And for this he must search among the remaining Mandalorians in the galaxy to obtain clues that will lead him to the race with which they were once enemies.
Disney Plus Star Wars The Mandalorian
Sergio López Aguirre Stanley Kubrick once said “To have a broader vision, not only see good movies, but also the bad ones” obviously I listened to him in the second and it is very funny.