It speaks volumes that a character who only just debuted in The Mandalorian season 2 almost needs no introduction. Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth – perhaps better known as the eponymous Marshal of the premiere – swaggered into sight with an attitude that not only demanded attention, but further inspection. Sure, we got a glimpse of his backstory – but the man once in possession of Boba Fett’s armour needs to be first choice for a Mandalorian spin-off on Disney Plus.
Let’s put this bluntly: Vanth is more interesting than Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin. That’s through no fault of Pascal’s own. His character is often hamstrung by lore; namely, Mando rarely removes his helmet in the presence of others as he chooses to stick to ‘The Way’ and The Mandalorian code. He’s also upstaged, understandably, by a certain cutesy green Child.
Cobb is night and day from Mando’s chrome-domed blank slate and slightly muffled dialogue. He’s cool, composed, and there’s a twinkle in his eye hinting at a man who has overcome some of the galaxy’s biggest hives of scum and villainy without breaking a sweat. Mando still appeals, but he’s ultimately tied to Baby Yoda and his journey. Cobb has free rein to go just about anywhere. Even staying on as the sheriff of Mos Pelgo and toeing the line between the Tusken Raiders and any drifters that might head his way has all the makings of a miniseries worth watching.
After all, an argument could be made that The Mandalorian season 2 premiere was the show’s best yet – and Cobb was a huge part of that. By using “Chapter 9” as a blueprint, Disney could spread its wings by presenting a familiar but fresh take on The Mandalorian universe.
Look at how Cobb bounces between being effortlessly charming when welcoming Mando in the bar, to the pair having a standoff, to Cobb becoming hot-headed around the Tusken Raiders, and helping save the day against the Krayt dragon. There’s real range there, aching to be peeled back further. We’ve only spent an hour with him and already I want to watch more of him than Mando.
Simply position Cobb as the lawman – perhaps with Boba Fett lurking in the background depending on his status in the main series – and start setting up bandits and Big Bads from there. In many ways, it’d be a warped mirror of The Mandalorian, just with slightly more gunslinging and grinning. Imagine Justified in space with a touch of Deadwood and you’re on the right track. Who wouldn’t watch that?
Better still, a Mandalorian spin-off with Cobb Vanth would be able to bring some of the oft-overlooked (yet still canon) Star Wars novels kicking and screaming on to the small screen, thanks to Cobb’s increasingly prominent role in the Aftermath trilogy of books.
The post-Return of the Jedi series explores the power vacuum that needed filling after Jabba the Hutt’s death. One such space was taken by the Red Key Raiders, a crime syndicate that operated on Tatooine. Cobb’s adventures across the series see him cross paths with the Red Key Raiders on more than one occasion, while also setting up his origins as a slave.
Having Cobb butt heads with those Raiders in a prequel or even after the events of The Mandalorian season 2 premiere would be both a fun story and lay down the marker for the next few years of Star Wars adventures. Mainly, that (such as Ahsoka Tano’s rumoured leap from The Clone Wars to The Mandalorian) Star Wars has truly become a connected universe, filled with tales, trials, and tribulations across all forms of media – and everything matters. The upcoming High Republic series, set 200 years before the prequels, is a good example of that all-encompassing approach. Lucasfilm and Disney can rubber-stamp that philosophy with a Disney Plus series all about Cobb Vanth that brings in the best facets of Mando and mixes them with the depth and world-building of the tertiary materials in a galaxy far, far away.
It’s clear that Disney wants The Mandalorian to be the foundational first chapter in the new era of Star Wars, and the House of Mouse would be foolish to look anywhere else. Gina Carano’s Carla Dune is feisty, but fairly two-dimensional; Moff Gideon’s story is too heavily tied to Mando’s; Boba Fett’s post-sarlacc years are likely to be touched upon in The Mandalorian itself. With Cobb Vanth, you’ve got the best of both worlds: a new and popular character, but one without too many roots already planted in the Disney Plus series.
Cobb, then, is simply the safest bet to launch a Mandalorian spin-off. By far the leading candidate, the Marshal can rocket Star Wars into the stratosphere, whether he keeps Boba Fett’s armour or not. The Obi-Wan series has the mainline Star Wars universe occupied, where The Mandalorian in the Star Wars timeline has several years to play with – one that should at least be partially filled by a certain Olyphant in the room.