‘The Mandalorian’ Has Found the Perfect Director for the Next ‘Star Wars’ Movie

2019 will go down in the history as the year of Baby Yoda. The diminutive breakout character of The Mandalorian has launched a million memes since his Disney+ debut. But more broadly, he — and his Star Wars series — have also pulled off the impossible. In a climate defined by division, The Mandalorian has unified Star Wars fans.

Critics and audiences may have polar opposite opinions of The Last Jedi and now The Rise of Skywalker. But most Star Wars devotees can agree The Mandalorian is a step in the right direction. Let’s discuss why that might be and how the Disney+ series could light the way forward for the “galaxy far, far away.”

Pedro Pascal at 'The Mandalorian' premiere
Pedro Pascal at ‘The Mandalorian’ premiere | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

‘The Mandalorian’ is the way ahead

The reason The Mandalorian has been able to succeed where so much recent Star Wars content has failed is clear. While the sequel trilogy is chained to the past, this new show is able to confidently explore new terrain. Sure, the Disney+ series is set within the continuity of the films, but it isn’t beholden to any of the same story points.

Rather than relying on established characters, The Mandalorian has been able to build on what fans know from the films. With the big-screen side of Star Wars uncertain right now, this kind of forward-thinking could be the key to keeping the franchise viable for the foreseeable future.

Upcoming Disney+ series about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rogue One‘s Cassian Andor only further underscore Lucasfilm’s faith in how it’s choosing to rebuild fan goodwill. We don’t expect Star Wars to stay away from theaters for long. But Disney+ is proving to be a decent palate cleanser as the saga begins to pivot toward something new.

Bringing new talent to the saga

Speaking of new, The Mandalorian is also giving Lucasfilm the chance to test out some new talent. Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, and Carl Weathers have all gained recurring roles on the show as more morally ambiguous characters. The likelihood of the grand good-versus-evil scope of the film’s fitting in such shady characters is slim to none.

But The Mandalorian is also allowing new filmmakers to play in the Star Wars sandbox without the pressure — and infinitely higher stakes — of a $300 million budget. Directors like executive producer Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), actress Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi have all gotten their turns at the helm.

Conversely, the Star Wars films have been chained to studio-mandated release dates, extensive production schedules, and relatively short turnarounds. This is why, at least in part, the franchise has encountered such difficulty keeping filmmakers like Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Josh Trank, Colin Trevorrow onboard.

Who should direct the next film

With The Mandalorian as a testing ground for new directorial talent, Star Wars might be able to initiate filmmakers into the feature side of things with more ease. After all, with the production values of the Disney+ show, each episode of The Mandalorian is essentially its own mini-movie. So why not let one of the show’s directors graduate to a full-length adventure?

As for the first season of the series, the standout behind the camera has easily been Deborah Chow. Chow directed both “Chapter 3: The Sin” and “Chapter 7: The Reckoning” — arguably the two best episodes to date — with a deft balance of heart, action, and humor. In short, she’s already proven herself to be the perfect director for a new Star Wars film.

Right now, we have no clue what the next Star Wars film will even be. But if The Rise of Skywalker taught us anything, it’s that this franchise needs a fresh perspective. Lucasfilm clearly has faith in Chow, as she’s already scheduled to work on the upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi show. If that goes well, the studio would be wise to lock her down for a feature next.