While that rumoured Boba Fett film remains firmly on the shelves of the Disney archives for now, the Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show is primed and ready to provide you with that your bounty hunter fix from a galaxy far, far away this year. Releasing exclusively on the Disney+ streaming service this year, it will be one of the first series to delve into the culture and creed of what it means to be a galactic bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe, and though details remain light, there's still a few things we can already get excited about.
First off, Star Wars: The Mandalorian has a reported budget of $100 million to spend on a limited first series run of just eight episodes. That's... *checks calculator* $12.5 million per episode! Clearly, Disney is sparing no expense when it comes to the new era of Star Wars television, and confirmed showrunner Jon Favreau is no stranger to big, cinematic storytelling either, having directed both Iron Man and its sequel, Iron Man 2, close to a decade ago.
We don’t know much about the guy inside the Mandalorian armor right now (Star Wars people do love a secret), aside from the fact he’s played by Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal, and that he’s a “lone gunfighter” operating on the edges of civilisation, light years away from the influence of the New Republic or the First Order. The Mandalorian is set in the mostly unexplored time period between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so there’s plenty of unknown territory for The Mandalorian TV show to explore…
But fear not, plenty of The Mandalorian TV show-shaped information has escaped through Lucasfilm's forcefields. We've put it all together to give you a crash course in everything from bounty hunters and suits of armor, to everything we know so far about the Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast...
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show release date: 2019 (TBC)
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show episodes: 8 (TBC)
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show cast: Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show showrunner: Jon Favreau
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show director(s): Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taika Waititi
Star Wars: The Mandalorian release date
The Mandalorian release date is currently TBC, but seeing as it’s airing on the new Disney+ subscription service, late 2019 seems a likely ETA – early 2020 at the latest. That may seem a long way off, but it’s par for the course for Star Wars productions – new Star Wars movies such as Star Wars 9 generally spend at least a year in post-production, and it’s likely showrunner Jon Favreau and the team at the newly formed ILM TV will need a similar amount of time to perfect the inevitable visual effects work.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian trailer
While Lucasfilm aren’t always in the habit of rushing out trailers – the first Solo: A Star Wars Story teaser appeared less than four months before the movie – this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago (April 11-15) seems the most likely place for The Mandalorian trailer to debut.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi both launched trailers at previous Celebrations (the latter contained the first footage revealed from Episode 8), and it’s hard to imagine a more suitable audience than a room full of excited fans. What could bring that forward is Disney deciding they want to start promoting their new subscription service sooner – Star Wars: The Mandalorian will, after all, be one of service’s main selling points, along with the Cassian Andor-focused Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prequel that's also in development.
Indeed, The Mandalorian TV show not only has to be good enough to keep an exacting fanbase happy, it’s got to be must-have enough for them to decide they need another streaming service in their lives, on top of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and the rest. In other words, this Star Wars TV show needs to be strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast
It’s official. The Star Wars website has confirmed that the Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast will be led by Pedro Pascal – a man so charismatic as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones that it seems a waste to hide his head behind a helmet, even one as cool as the Mandalorian’s. He’ll play the mysterious lone gunfighter of the title.
The rest of the Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast is similarly exciting – we just have no idea who (or what) they’re playing, as – in typical Lucasfilm style – their roles are still tightly under wraps. The Mandalorian TV show will also feature MMA fighter turned Deadpool and Fast and Furious 6 star Gina Carano; Giancarlo Esposito, aka Breaking Bad’s biggest bad Gus Fring; Emily Swallow (Amara in Supernatural); and Omid Abtahi (Salim in American Gods).
The Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast also has room for a couple of icons of ’70s and ’80s cinema in the form of Nick Nolte and Rocky’s original nemesis Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers. Most intriguingly of all, the cast is rounded out by the legendary director of Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man (and sometime actor) Werner Herzog – now that’s a bit of leftfield, unexpected casting.
It’ll be interesting to see how many of The Star Wars: The Mandalorian cast appear in human form, who’s lending their voice, and who’s a performance capture digital creation. According to Vanity Fair, Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that the company is “creating a version of Star Wars for television that will use CGI actors”. Was he talking about The Mandalorian TV show? Given Star Wars’ history with digital co-stars, we wouldn't be surprised.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian plot
In the absence of a crack team of Bothan spies, Star Wars: The Mandalorian creator/showrunner Jon Favreau’s Instagram feed has so far proved the most important source of information about the new series. The above opening crawl-style post establishes the key facts...
The Star Wars: The Mandalorian story will focus on a masked “lone gunfighter” who – like famous bounty hunters Boba Fett and his dad, Jango Fett – chooses to wear the iconic battle armor of the Mandalorians. In Star Wars canon, it’s the look that inspired the armor of the original Clone Troopers in Attack of the Clones, the DNA of which can be seen in all the subsequent Republic/Imperial Trooper suits.
Beyond being known as “The Mandalorian”, we know nothing about the identity of the owner of the Mandalorian armor – aside from the fact he's the spitting image of Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the internet from speculating. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a character we’ve encountered elsewhere in the Star Wars saga, even in a minor role, simply because Lucasfilm’s Story Group (arbiters of Star Wars canon) has form for it – the Rebel insurgent in Rogue One didn’t have to be Onderon freedom fighter Saw Gerrera from Star Wars: The Clone Wars with two more decades on the clock, but it helped tie things together, the same way Darth Maul’s surprise cameo did in Solo.
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One candidate for the suit’s owner is Cobb Vanth, a character in Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi Aftermath trilogy of novels, who crops up in Boba Fett-style togs on Tatooine. It could even be Boba Fett himself. Yes, I know the last we saw of him was his malfunctioning rocket pack blasting him towards a thousand years of misery being slowly digested in the Sarlacc’s belly. But there’s no reason a warrior as skilled as Fett couldn’t make his escape – indeed, he’s done it before, having forced his way out in the old Expanded Universe “Legends” novels that are now expunged from official continuity.
There are good reasons to suspect Fett’s repeated the trick in the official Star Wars timeline, too. The first Aftermath novel references Mandalorian armor found on Tatooine, “pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid” – a description consistent with someone who’s had a close encounter with a giant creature’s digestive tract. (Though obviously the pristine suit revealed in the first The Mandalorian TV show image suggests he’d have since upgraded.) Meanwhile, Pablo Hidalgo, of the Story Group, told a Star Wars Celebration panel that “Boba Fett is both simultaneously alive and dead in the Sarlacc” until someone writes an official story that makes the call either way.
I reckon Fett’s an unlikely candidate, however. Even accepting that spoiler-phobic showrunners and directors are prone to fibs from time to time, the fact that Favreau told Nerdist that Star Wars: The Mandalorian will feature “all new characters [and] different planets,” seems to remove the bounty hunter from the running. Also, the fact that, until recently, Lucasfilm were developing a standalone Boba Fett movie (with Josh Trank and James Mangold both attached as directors along the way) would seem to take him out of the running – Fett may be a fan favourite, but not enough to carry his own movie and a TV show.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian timeline
So where does The Mandalorian TV show sit in Star Wars canon? Favreau’s first Instagram post said that “The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order”. In an interview back in May, he also confirmed it’ll be set 7 years after the Battle of Yavin (where the Rebels destroyed the first Death Star), which places it three years after Return of the Jedi.
In the official Star Wars chronology, that means that the New Republic has defeated the Empire for the last time, Mon Mothma has signed the “Galactic Concordance” (a kind of cosmic peace treaty), and the remnants of the Imperial top brass have travelled through the ‘Unknown Regions’ of the galaxy to start the First Order. Obviously we’ll hear from those guys later, but at this point in the Star Wars chronology, that galaxy far, far away is in a state of flux – and with some 28 years to go until the events of The Force Awakens, there’s a lot of unexplored territory for the show’s writers to get their teeth into.
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Star Wars: The Mandalorian also finds itself in a wonderfully rich time period for a space Western on the fringes of the Star Wars galaxy. After all, it’s safe to assume that the three-year-old New Republic (born from the Rebel Alliance) hasn’t had much time to bring stability to a post-Emperor universe - creating the sort of lawless vacuum that bounty hunters, gangsters, and smugglers (my kind of scum) love to exploit. Indeed, it’s the sort of fertile criminal territory Lucasfilm considered exploring before the Disney buyout in 2012 – both with aborted TV series Star Wars: Underworld (which would have been set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope), and similarly discarded Coruscant-set video game Star Wars 1313.
The Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show’s time period also makes rumors about Star Wars Rebels’ resident Mando warrior Sabine Wren making an appearance plausible. Making Star Wars has reported that her characteristic helmet has been spotted in the production, and seeing as we know from the Rebels finale that Sabine is still very much in action after the Battle of Endor, it's not much of a stretch to say that she'd still be active three years later. Fingers crossed she makes it into the show, because she was one of Rebels’ standout characters – and an instant cosplay icon. Who knows, maybe she'll be one of the mystery roles played by Gina Carano or Emily Swallow.
Who are the Mandalorians?
The race who give The Mandalorian TV show its name hail from the planet Mandalore. A people with a war-mongering history, they come armed with the sort of wonderful toys (jetpacks, flamethrowers, rocket launchers) that would make Batman jealous. A unique lightsaber known as the ‘darksaber’ – created by the first ever Mandalorian inducted to the Jedi Order – is a key symbol for unifying the Mandalorian people.
While their appearances in the Star Wars movies have been limited to the Fett family (and a crest flying outside Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens), the Mandalorians have been key players in both the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated shows.
In The Clone Wars, the peaceful New Mandalorian government run by Duchess Satine Kryze (Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ex) is overthrown and subsequently assassinated in a coup by the militant Black Watch, a terrorist cell of ex-soldiers who yearn for a return to their race’s militaristic past. Former Sith Lord Maul ultimately seizes control of the planet, until future Emperor Darth Sidious eliminates the threat of his spiky former apprentice in person.
Come the time of the Empire in Star Wars Rebels, Mandalore is under Imperial occupation, with its various clans split between those loyal to and opposed to the Empire. They are ultimately united under Satine Kryze’s sister, Bo-Katan, when she gets to wield the ceremonial darksaber.
That said, we have no reason to assume the eponymous star of the Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show is Mandalorian themselves. They could simply have stolen someone else’s armor – and with all that lethal hardware on them, would you ask them where they got it?
Star Wars: The Mandalorian armor
In the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian armor is something of a status symbol for the warriors who wear it. “The armor is part of our identity,” Sabine Wren's father Alrich once said. “It makes us Mandalorians who we are.”
According to font of all Star Wars knowledge Wookieepedia (a source
so rich in facts that Solo co-writer Jon Kasdan admits he used it extensively in researching the movie), the Mandalorian armor has a long history and was constructed to help its wearers fight with Jedi in a generation-spanning war.
Various different styles of armor evolved over the years, including a red and black version with a horned helmet inspired by Maul, during his brief time in control of the Mandalorian government. Mandalorians loyal to the Empire also gave their suits a Stormtrooper-like makeover – which effectively brought the design full circle, seeing as the the original Clone Trooper outfits were inspired by Jango Fett’s own Mandalorian armor.
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Some individual wearers also chose to customise their suits further: Sabine Wren covered hers in colorful graffiti-like designs, while bounty hunter Boba Fett adorned his with braids of hair as trophies commemorating his biggest catches – the old Legends continuity claimed they belonged to captured Wookiees.
Indeed, another rumor from Making Star Wars suggests that the hero/antihero/whatever of The Mandalorian TV show is similarly keen on upgrading his Mandalorian armor. They report that there could be a woman in a "secret Mandalorian enclave" who, like Q from James Bond, keeps him furnished with new toys and hardware that help him "evolve" his suit.
Why? Let's just say the Mandalorian armor is about more than fashion. It's made of a metal strong enough to repel blasters, and is generally loaded with enough weaponry to make its wearer into a one-person army. The iconic helmet contains various HUDs to help with tactics, while the suit itself is packed with optional extras. The jetpack, for example, allows for short bursts of aerial combat, while some versions contain a rocket launcher – a potentially dangerous weapon for its user, seeing as careless use could blow their heads off.
The ‘vambraces’ on the wrists are arguably the trump cards in the Mandalorian armor, however, seeing as they can contain anything from flamethrowers and blasters, whipcord throwers (as used by Boba Fett to tie up Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi) to more primitive blades and darts.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian showrunner
As previously stated, Jon Favreau is the creator and showrunner of The Mandalorian TV show. Aside from being the successful director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Elf, The Jungle Book and, er, Cowboys and Aliens, Favreau already has history with a galaxy far, far away. He played four-armed Ardennian pilot Rio Durant in Solo, and even has a Mandalorian on his filmography, having voiced Death Watch leader Pre Vizsla in The Clone Wars.
And he certainly hasn’t ended up running the Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV show just by accident. “I actually wrote a lot of the scripts before I even had the job, to be honest with you,” he told Nerdist. “I wrote four to show them what the show would be and I've been thinking about doing this show for a long time.”
The team of directors on the series is just as impressive. For die-hard Star Wars fans the most exciting member of the team is probably Dave Filoni, the walking Star Wars encyclopedia who oversaw both The Clone Wars and Rebels. Having stepped back from the day-to-day on new animated show Star Wars Resistance, he’s making his live-action debut with the first episode of The Mandalorian TV show.
Other directors on the series include Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones, Lost in Space, Better Call Saul), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), and Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi – can he find a way to transport Korg over from the MCU?
Star Wars: The Mandalorian has also signed up an A-list composer to soundtrack the show, in the form of Ludwig Göransson – who's just picked up an Oscar nomination for his work for Star Wars’ Disney stablemates Marvel on Black Panther.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian set photos
Favreau revealed the above painful-looking rifle, which bears a striking resemblance to a weapon Boba Fett carried in his very first screen appearance – in an animated segment of 1978’s much-derided Star Wars Holiday Special.
Anyone for ice cream? The above image may not look like much, but it’s got it where it counts – in Star Wars terms, at least. A similar device was seen in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, being carried by some random guy in the evacuation of Bespin. Despite appearing on screen for mere seconds, he became an unlikely cult hero known as the Ice Cream Man because his device resembled an ice cream maker. He’s since been written into continuity as Willrow Hood.
Favreau also had a birthday surprise – a set visit from Star Wars creator George Lucas! Wonder if he’s got any intel on whether Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc or not...
As a Star Wars: The Mandalorian Christmas treat, Favreau released this above photo of a droid who looks uncannily like IG-88 – one of the six bounty hunters Darth Vader unleashes to track down Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
There are also rumors of an appearance by reptilian bounty hunter Bossk, and who knows, maybe there’ll also be cameos from 4-LOM, Zuckuss, and Dengar (who was voiced by Simon Pegg in the Clone Wars series).
Meanwhile, The Mandalorian TV show’s leading man showed off the above fantastic sketches from director and former Clone Wars/Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni – loving that cape!