Star Wars is about to head into uncharted territory, and we're not talking the outer rims. With the release of Disney+ later in 2019, we're about to get our first ever live-action Star Wars series. While there have been rumors about this happening forever, and while we've gotten a few animated series -- looking at you, Clone Wars and Rebels -- we're finally making the leap to live-action with The Mandalorian.
But, as usual with anything Star Wars related, The Mandalorian has been shrouded in secrecy. While we know Pedro Pascal is starring as the titular character, and Disney triple-threat Jon Favreau is behind the show, that's been where our information begins and ends. That is, until now. Taking to the stage at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, we've finally been clued in to what we can expect from the series launches, from the plot, to additional casting, to even when we might see it streaming. We've got a good feeling about this.
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Showrunner Favreau and Dave Filoni are good friends, and their Star Wars history goes way back. Filoni joins the series as a director and executive producer, and it marks his first time directing live-action Star Wars, after spending nearly a decade on animated projects between Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. While on stage, Favreau and Filoni were more than game to swap jokes and stories about their time working together separately, and also now together. (At one point, Favreau also notes that Filoni was one of the first people to ever see his 2008 Iron Man.)
Filoni also took time to crack some jokes at Favreau's expense, telling the audience that the showrunner was writing scripts for The Mandalorian on Christmas Day ("Oh, so you're not doing anything [today]?" Filoni quipped). Favreau then himself joked that he drew a lot of inspiration for the series from another live-action Star Wars television special, the iconic (and little seen) Caravan of Courage, aka The Ewok Adventure.
The actual plot of The Mandalorian is still a secret, but we've got a few more details. Who he is and what exactly The Mandalorian is doing is still anyone's guess (as is his actual name -- we might end up calling Pascal's Mandalorian "The Mandalorian," or "Mando," for the entire series), but the creative team did offer up a few snippets. The show is set roughly five years after the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, but even though the Empire has been defeated, it's never really going to be gone. The scenes screened during the panel featured a lot of Stormtroopers and characters talking about how the Empire still has a hand what is going on in the galaxy.
The series is also meant to look and feel like a western or a samurai film; both are genres Favreau and Filoni drew inspiration from. It's also intended to have a much broader appeal, as anyone who enjoys the Star Wars films -- whether a lot or a little -- can just jump right in and enjoy.
Pascal feels like this is all "fantasy fulfillment." When asked about his character, Pascal, unfortunately, remained pretty tight-lipped. But, he could talk about how excited he was to be a part of the Star Wars universe. When asked what it's like to play the character, he pointed to the giant picture of him in costume projected on the screens inside the panel and yelled, "Just look at the image! That's what it's like! I just want to point at pictures and be like [gestures widely]."
But, we at least know the name of The Mandalorian's ship: The Razor Crest.
We've also got more details about the other characters joining Mando on his journey. Joining him on the panel were Gina Carano and Carl Weathers, who play Cara Dune and Greef, respectively. Carano's Cara is an ex-Rebel Shock Trooper who's having trouble readjusting to normal life and is a bit of a loaner.
Weathers' Greef is the head of a bounty hunter's guild and "he's looking for someone to bring a product to a client...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."
Everyone cried at some point on set. Carano noted that everyone involved in the project was incredibly passionate about it, and explained that going forward she only wants to work with people who care this deeply about what they're making. She also told the crowd that there were many emotional moments on set because Favreau was so engrossed in material and show himself.
"Jon cried a lot on set," she explained, and continued after Favreau didn't challenge the statement, "I'd ask what is this blaster [that I'm using], and he'd give me a whole history [about it]."
Carano, who comes from the world of mixed martial arts, did her own stunts, much to Favreau's objection and surprise. While making The Mandalorian, Favreau was also busy putting the finishing touches on Disney's live-action The Lion King. This meant that he was splitting his time between the projects, and would often times set up everything in the morning for The Mandalorian, and then leave for a bit to work on The Lion King. He'd then return later in the day to finish everything up and discover that Carano's stunt double "wasn't having any fun" because Carano was doing everything herself.
"I'd [walk on set and] be like, 'What's going on? These are our stars!'" he explained. "There was one scene where Gina had to carry a wounded character. Gina lifted him up and carried him off [without the use of a double]."
Carano went on to explain that everyone asked her if, "they put a dummy in" for her to carry, and she corrected them like, "No, this is a real human."
The 501st Legion makes its first on-screen appearance in the Star Wars Universe. While filming, Favreau and Filoni realized that they didn't have enough Stormtroopers they needed. Since costumes are very expensive to make, and they needed more background Stormtroopers quickly, he called in a favor to The 501st Legion, "an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor and other villains from the Star Wars universe."
"It was like late on a Thursday, early Friday, where we put a call out [to the Legion that] we needed a bunch of stormtroopers," Filoni told the crowd. They came down out of nowhere, and a lot of [their costumes are] better than what we see on screen. Their armor is so accurate and they act like real Stormtroopers."
The only thing is that no one told them what they were showing up for. "They were so surprised," Filoni added. "[Usually they're called in for] a function, or a [convention] panel. It's not normally you show up and there's a Mandalorian." Having them on set also worked as a "test audience," with Filoni noting that when certain things were rolled out in front of them during scenes, he and Favreau would note, "Oh, they seem to like that."
As for a teaser trailer or any sort of footage, you're going to have to wait. The videos screened were panel exclusive, which means you're not going to find them online anytime soon. But, I can confirm that The Mandalorian looks amazing. One making-of featurette was screened, showing us just how much care and consideration went into bringing this show to life. Another longer video was simply a scene from the series, with Pascal's Mandalorian talking to Weathers' Greef about a new bounty that doesn't offer much payment. Mando then heads out to talk to Werner Herzog's unnamed character, who is surrounded by Stormtroopers. Herzog's character explains the bounty to Mando, and explains that the bounty -- a person -- must be brought back alive.
The scene also featured a Salacious like alien roasting on a spit, much to the audience's enjoyment.
The Mandalorian will be released on Day 1 of Disney+. Disney's new streaming service is coming, and after that footage, we're should all be prepared to throw our money at it. The Mandalorian will be available on the day the new streaming service drops, which is Nov 12.
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