Some Disappointed Fans Think ‘The Mandalorian’ Is Too Predictable
Audiences commonly complain that this show or that movie is “too predictable,” and as popular as The Mandalorian is, it’s not immune to those criticisms. There’s a perfect two-word response to that: Baby Yoda.
Boast as they might, few if any Star Wars fans can believably claim they predicted Baby Yoda’s appearance at the end of the first episode. So saying The Mandalorian is too predictable falls apart on that basis alone. It’s certainly true that the show relies on storytelling tropes that are as old as the hills. But then, so has pretty much every Star Wars story. Put another way, originality is overrated.
The first ‘Star Wars’ is hardly “original”
Not only is the first Star Wars film not very original, hardly any movie is truly original. Authors have often argued there is a finite number of stories. What’s infinite are the ways of telling them. As film critic Roger Ebert liked to say, “It’s not what it’s about, it’s how it’s about it.” As quoted by Unicheck, Mark Twain said:
“For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them (when he did not).”
Many people have pointed out that all aspects of Star Wars have lifted from other sources. The basic story outline of the 1977 movie comes from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, which is told from the point of view of lowly characters. The dogfight scene with the Millennium Falcon and the TIE fighters takes its editing and camera angles from a scene in the Howard Hawks World War II film Air Force. Even John Williams’ iconic Star Wars theme lifts from the score to the 1942 film Kings Row, starring one Ronald Reagan.
None of this is to say that George Lucas and John Williams plagiarized. They took existing structures and made them their own, and the impact they made 42 years ago is still being felt today. Just because something is predictable or not original doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
‘The Mandalorian’ borrows from westerns and samurai movies
The Mandalorian, like Star Wars before it, borrows liberally from the past, although the pervasive influence here is Westerns. When you get down to it, the Mandalorian himself is Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name wearing body armor and shooting lasers instead of bullets. Even the idea of the Mandalorian looking after Baby Yoda smacks of 3 Godfathers, a 1948 film starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford. In it, three cowboys swear to protect a baby, and even that’s a variation of the Biblical tale of the three wise men.
Episode 4 of The Mandalorian, in which the title character teams up with a mercenary played by Gina Carano to protect a village from invaders, is very much like Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, which was remade into a western – The Magnificent Seven – which got a reboot in 2016 with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. And Pixar, often praised for its originality, took that story structure for its 1998 movie, A Bug’s Life.
Screen Rant theorizes that The Mandalorian might be predictable on purpose in the sense that, “it could be that all this is just lulling viewers into a false sense of security – making them think that they know exactly where this story is heading – before [Jon] Favreau and his fellow writers yank the narrative rug out from under their feet.”
Is there a twist? Does there have to be?
So, The Mandalorian may end with some sort of twist that will make Baby Yoda look . . . well, predictable. But never mind whether it will – should it?
Audiences have become so sensitive to spoilers that even the barest plot description counts as a spoiler for some. The reason we don’t have Baby Yoda toys in time for Christmas is because Disney didn’t want to spoil his revelation in Episode 1. M. Night Shyamalan has conditioned us to expect a big “twist,” even in movies and shows that he doesn’t make. If audiences aren’t surprised, they complain. And sometimes if they are surprised, they complain because the twist doesn’t make any sense. It’s a long way from The Sixth Sense to Glass.
Sure, it’s fun to be surprised. Season 1 of The Mandalorian will surely end with a big cliffhanger, leaving us breathlessly awaiting season 2. Some have even speculated it will tie into The Rise of Skywalker somehow. But even if we guess whatever the twist is, it can be fun either way. Twists are overrated just like originality.