‘The Mandalorian’ Has a Secret Connection to Western Legend John Wayne

Most commonly, the Star Wars universe is described as that of a “space opera.” Yet, the saga features elements from just about every genre under the twin suns. Fantasy, sci-fi, romance, adventure, and comedy are all wrapped up within the “galaxy far, far away.” But The Mandalorian adds another dimension, one many fans hadn’t considered: Western.

The story of a morally complex bounty hunter, the Disney+ series came along just as Star Wars needed a new direction. After all, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker failed to meet expectations. And The Mandalorian‘s Western vibe strongly resonated with fans. Perhaps the show’s authenticity comes across, as it has a major connection to iconic cowboy John Wayne.

The cast and crew of 'The Mandalorian' at the show's premiere
The cast and crew of ‘The Mandalorian’ at the show’s premiere | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

‘The Mandalorian’ is true to George Lucas’ vision, Mark Hamill said

One of the most notable fans of The Mandalorian is none other than Mark Hamill himself. The actor has announced he is officially retiring from playing Luke Skywalker once and for all. And Hamill believes the saga is in great hands. In fact, he recently praised The Mandalorian for hewing closely to George Lucas’ original vision for Star Wars.

[The Mandalorian] sort of gets back to the basics of George envisioning it as a western in space. It has that tone of a Sergio Leone Western. I’m very impressed with it and to me, it’s a very smart move on their part because you can’t keep trying to top [yourself].

Indeed, fans agree the show stays true to the spirit of Star Wars but presents it filtered through a fresh perspective. The performance of actor Pedro Pascal is often credited for making that tone work. Yet, while Pascal plays the lead character, it sounds like another actor deserves some of the attention for contributing to the lead role.

John Wayne’s legacy is directly involved in the ‘Star Wars’ show

According to Vulture, stunt doubles and stand-ins often wear the armor as The Mandalorian‘s main character. For her episode, director Bryce Dallas Howard worked with two men to bring the show’s lead to life. But she collaborated most with Brendan Wayne. The actor is the grandson of John Wayne, best known for his Westerns like The Searchers and Stagecoach.

“[Brendan] absolutely just brought everything to that character, and we were able to find the moments and figure them out together,” Howard told Vulture.

Wayne’s career actually runs back to the early 2000s when he appeared on shows like Angel, Cold Case, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He previously worked with The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau on 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens. Moreover, Wayne joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2015.

So there’s a good reason why The Mandalorian feels like its main character borrows a bit from the physicality of old John Wayne movies. The legendary actor’s grandson worked closely with Pascal to develop the character’s movements. And that effort definitely comes across on the Disney+ series.

Will ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 diverge from its Western aesthetic?

Ironically, the very thing that made The Mandalorian feel so different from other Star Wars projects could be at risk going forward. The show’s second season begins in October 2020. While it will continue to follow Din Djarin’s (Pascal) storyline with “Baby Yoda,” it will add several established characters too.

The additions of Ahsoka Tano, Boba Fett, and others could mean The Mandalorian will lean away from its Western-inspired tone. With so many new elements, the Star Wars show could overstuff itself or surrender to fan service. But most fans right now are cautiously optimistic about The Mandalorian Season 2.