“The Mandalorian” follows the story of a gunslinging bounty hunter clad in sleek armor, taking jobs on the outskirts of the galaxy.
But don’t worry if you haven’t the faintest idea what a Mandalorian is: Showrunner Jon Favreau assures us that the first ever live-action “Star Wars” series, which premiered Wednesday with the launch of Disney’s standalone streaming service, Disney+, requires no prior knowledge in order to dive in. (The second episode of “The Mandalorian” will be released Friday, with one subsequent installment of the eight-episode series added each week thereafter.)
“It’s an invitation into (‘Star Wars’) in a very pure way,” said Favreau, whose Disney credentials include directing “The Lion King” and “Iron Man.” “It’s the first time since ‘Episode IV’” — the 1977 original — “where it’s inviting people into a whole new cast of characters that doesn’t require any prerequisite understanding of the world.”
Starring “Game of Thrones” alum Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter, “The Mandalorian” takes place a few years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi,” the final film of George Lucas’ original trilogy. That film saw the Rebel Alliance bring down the Galactic Empire, decades before the adventures of the next generation of heroes picks up in “The Force Awakens.”
Like any good bounty hunter, the Mandalorian, or Mando, is just trying to do his job without drawing unnecessary attention to himself.
The cast also includes Gina Carano as an ex-Rebel soldier named Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as the leader of the bounty hunter guild who helps put Mando in contact with a high-paying client (played by Werner Herzog).
Favreau specifically wanted to explore the period after the defeat of an oppressive regime that ruled through fear and military might, when the galaxy is done celebrating its newfound freedom.
“What would really happen with a strong, tyrannical central government disappearing? At first it’s wonderful, because it’s freedom. But then sometimes freedom gets sloppy,” said Favreau. “Like after the fall of the Roman Empire, a lot of the world descended into darker times. So it was interesting to explore what the ‘Star Wars’ version of that would be.”
Also part of the show’s brain trust is Dave Filoni, a “Star Wars” veteran known for his work on animated entries in the franchise. The writer and executive producer explained that his contributions to the series included assessing when to incorporate elements that already existed in the “Star Wars” canon, and when it made more sense to create something new.
Like the original “Star Wars,” “The Mandalorian” is inspired by westerns and samurai films and will see Mando travel from town to town, or planet to planet, in the more “lawless” outskirts of the galaxy in search of his mark. The line between good and evil will be much less clear than in the films.
Favreau and Filoni agree that part of the original “Star Wars’” appeal was how its sci-fi and fantasy elements were rooted in real history and experiences.
“George (Lucas) taught me first and foremost that you have to have a good story with characters you believe in,” said Filoni.
“There were no ‘Star Wars’ fans when ‘Star Wars’ first came out. That wasn’t even a thing.”