Star Wars is one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises — and Jon Favreau’s live-action series The Mandalorian has quickly become a hit in its own right. The series for the Disney+ streaming service features Pedro Pascal as its lead character, a mysterious bounty hunter on the outer rim of the galaxy, and launched on Disney+ in November.
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You can read our recaps and analysis of each episode of the series as they’re released, but here’s everything we know about The Mandalorian so far.
Season 2 coming
— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) December 27, 2019
Shortly after the final episode of season 1 aired, series executive producer and director Jon Favreau tweeted that a new season is due out in fall 2020. That’s great news for fans of the helmeted bounty hunter and his trusty Force-savvy sidekick.
Baby Yoda for the win
Although the series itself is receiving high praise, the standout character in The Mandalorian has proven to be one of its biggest surprises: An infant of the same species as Star Wars’ iconic Jedi master, Yoda, who The Mandalorian decides to protect from the powerful forces hunting him.
In the period leading up to — and even for several weeks after — the show’s premiere, Disney worked hard to keep the existence of the character (officially known as “The Child,” but informally called “Baby Yoda”) a secret. Now that the word is out, though, the studio has gone all-in on promoting The Mandalorian’s adorable, green-skinned little partner.
Baby Yoda’s existence has also led Star Wars fans to speculate on what his presence — or the characters introduced around him — could mean for the next film in the franchise, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
At the D23 Expo in August 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that Ming-Na Wen, the actress best known as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Agent May, the voice of Disney’s Mulan, and Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen on 110 episodes of NBC’s medical drama ER, will be part of The Mandalorian‘s star-studded cast. According to Vanity Fair, she’ll play an assassin named Fennec Shand and will appear about halfway through The Mandalorian‘s first season.
In September, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Cold Pursuit actress Julia Jones was announced as part of the cast of The Mandalorian. Best known for her portrayal of Leah Clearwater in three installments of the Twilight franchise, Jones appeared in the series’ fourth episode as a widowed farmer on a remote planet visited by The Mandalorian.
In December 2018, Lucasfilm revealed The Mandalorian‘s primary cast, which includes a handful of big names, including Pascal (Game of Thrones) as The Mandalorian.
Among the familiar faces are Giancarlo Esposito (below), aka drug kingpin Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Supernatural‘s Emily Swallow, veteran character actor Carl Weathers (aka Rocky‘s Apollo Creed), and American Gods guest star Omid Abtahi. Werner Herzog, the 76-year-old director responsible for Grizzly Man and other critical darlings, also plays a key role in the first season.
Those weren’t the only familiar faces added to the show’s galaxy far, far away, either. In late November 2018, Deadline brought news that three-time Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte (Warrior, The Prince of Tides) had joined the cast in a role that was eventually revealed to be the voice of digitally created character Kuiil, who appears in the season’s early episodes.
Nolte joined Gina Carano, the former mixed martial arts fighter who made a successful leap to the screen in Deadpool, Fast and Furious 6, and Haywire, who joined the series as Cara Dune, a former soldier for the Rebel Alliance.
Just a few days before Carano joined The Mandalorian, Pascal was cast in the series, confirming earlier rumors that he was one of several actors being considered for the show. Pascal was cast in the show’s title role, the bounty hunter Dyn Jarren, better known as The Mandalorian (or “Mando” for short).
Best known for playing Prince Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones and Javier Peña in the Netflix series Narcos, Pascal also played supporting roles in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The Equalizer 2, and The Great Wall. He’ll also appear in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, and was recently seen in the Netflix action film Triple Frontier.
While die-hard Star Wars fans got their first look at The Mandalorian in April at Star Wars Celebration 2019, the footage wasn’t released to the public. Four months later, the rest of the world got to see what the fuss was all about. The first trailer for The Mandalorian debuted at Disney’s D23 Expo in August 2019 and offered a very tense look at the dark and gritty Star Wars adventure.
Disney released a second trailer, showing a tiny bit more detail about the show’s actual plot, on October 28.
A collection of epic posters
The first official poster for The Mandalorian was released Friday, August 23, by Disney in the lead-up to the company’s Disney+ presentation at its annual D23 Expo.
In late October, just before The Mandalorian‘s second trailer premiered, the official Star Wars Twitter account revealed five more posters, each one focusing on a specific member of The Mandalorian‘s cast. From IG-11 to the Mandalorian himself, the gang’s all there — including Nick Nolte’s character.
Where (and when) to watch it
The Mandalorian debuted November 12, 2019, exclusively on Disney+, Disney’s streaming service. As first reported by fan site What’s On Disney Plus, the second episode arrived the following Friday, November 15. From there, the remaining episodes are scheduled to drop every Friday until the end of December on Disney+. The one exception: Episode 7 will debut on Wednesday, December 18, leaving the weekend clear for everyone to see Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker.
Disney+ made its North American debut on November 12, bringing TV and movie fans all kinds of content centered on Star Wars, Marvel superheroes, classic Disney franchises, The Simpsons, and more. A Disney+ subscription costs $7 a month, or $70 if you decide to sign up for an entire year.
Inspiration from a long time ago (but not so far away)
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau confirmed that George Lucas’ Star Wars movies are “the bedrock that [The Mandalorian] is built on,” but probably not the Star Wars movies that you’re thinking of.
It’s the prequels, not the original trilogy, that made The Mandalorian possible. Unlike the Star Wars feature films, which shoot on a combination of sets and real-life locations, The Mandalorian was filmed using green screens, advanced computer graphics software, and even game engines to create its far-off worlds.
As Favreau explains, Lucas was “the first person that had digital photography, he was the first person to do completely CG characters. The whole notion of not having even a print [version of the film], of having everything be 0’s and 1’s, was all George.” Everything that The Mandalorian‘s team is doing builds on the digital foundation that Lucas established.
In terms of The Mandalorian‘s content, Favreau is going all the way back to 1977. Favreau didn’t just draw primarily on Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, the very first Star Wars movie, when creating The Mandalorian. He took most of his inspiration from the first third of the movie. “What was it like on Tatooine? What was going on in that cantina? That has fascinated me since I was a child,” Favreau says. “I love the idea of the darker, freakier side of Star Wars, the Mad Max aspect of Star Wars.”
First photos, logo
During a panel for The Mandalorian at the Star Wars Celebration fan event, Disney debuted the show’s official logo and the first four photos from the series.
The photos feature Pascal as the show’s titular gunfighter, as well as Gina Carano as a character as Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as Greef Karga.
In a December 26, 2018, post on Instagram, Favreau revealed that an android bounty hunter who resembled The Empire Strikes Back‘s IG-88 would have a role in The Mandalorian — but don’t be fooled. Despite its look, this is a new character.
Like IG-88, The Mandalorian‘s IG-11 was built to handle security, assassinations, and all other kinds of nasty tasks. As io9 notes, Star Wars canon says that IG-88 and four of his counterparts eventually turned on their masters and went into the killing business for themselves, which is how IG-88 ended up as a bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back.
IG-11 came with a healthy dose of fan service attached. Filmmaker Taika Waititi, who directed What We Do in the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok, provided IG-11’s voice, according to an Instagram post by Favreau. Waititi has experience in voice acting — he stole every scene he was in as Thor’s rocky companion Korg in Ragnarok — and will also direct the eighth episode of the series.
In January 2019, Favreau posted a photo on Instagram indicating that a droid that hasn’t been seen since the first installment of the franchise will be making an appearance in The Mandalorian.
For those who might not be caught up on their Star Wars droids, that’s R5-D4 — the astromech that Luke Skywalker and Owen Lars almost purchased from a group of Jawas before a malfunction pushed them to buy R2-D2 instead. The rest is Star Wars saga history, of course.
After making his debut in Episode IV — A New Hope, R5-D4 was a character in various spinoff stories over the years, with some suggesting that he willingly sacrificed his freedom to send R2-D2 on the path to Skywalker. What became of R5-D4 in the years that followed the rebellion is somewhat unknown, but will likely be explored in The Mandalorian to some degree.
On October 19, 2018, Favreau posted a photo of himself with Star Wars creator George Lucas on the set of The Mandalorian.
The photo was taken on Favreau’s birthday, making the visit from Lucas one heck of a gift, given Favreau’s well-documented love for the sci-fi saga.
A few weeks earlier, Favreau posted another image from The Mandalorian on Instagram, and it featured a full look at the rifle the series’ title character will wield in the show.
Star Wars fans were quick to point out that the rifle looked similar to the one carried by Boba Fett in the much-maligned (and justifiably so) 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which first introduced the popular bounty hunter to the sci-fi saga’s universe.
That particular rifle was later identified as an “Amban phase-pulse blaster” in the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game, according to fan site Making Star Wars, which took a deep dive into the weapon’s background in the franchise. The weapon was then confirmed to be a modified pulse rifle based on the one appearing in the holiday special.
The very first image from The Mandalorian was revealed on StarWars.com on October 4 and was accompanied by a list of directors who will helm various episodes of the series.
The list of filmmakers includes Waititi, Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), with veteran Star Wars director Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) directing the first episode of the show.
Favreau revealed the title and first details about the series on Instagram, posting a block of text in the iconic yellow-on-black format that traditionally introduces each chapter of the Star Wars saga.
The series is set seven years after the Battle of Endor in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi and feature characters new to the Star Wars universe, many of them created via CGI and motion-capture technology similar to what Favreau used in his live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book for Disney.
“After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe,” reads the synopsis posted by Favreau. “The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic …”
The biggest show ever?
In August, 2018, it was reported that the series had a budget of approximately $100 million for its first 10-episode season, according to The New York Times. That number puts it on par with some of the most expensive series made in recent years, including Game of Thrones, The Crown, and Star Trek: Discovery.
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Previously, HBO made headlines with the news that the final season of Game of Thrones could cost the network more than $15 million for each of the six episodes that concluded the hit show’s run (for a total budget of approximately $90 million). Also raising the bar was Star Trek: Discovery, which reportedly cost CBS between $8 million and $8.5 million an episode for its first, 15-episode season, bringing its total budget to more than $120 million.
Possibly the highest series budget of all time, however, is the $1 billion Amazon Studios is reportedly paying for five seasons of an upcoming series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga.
Updated on December 27, 2019: Added the announcement of a second season.
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