‘The Mandalorian’ Review: The Real Reason Fans Should Support the New Disney+ Show

For well over a decade, Lucasfilm has teased a live-action Star Wars TV series set in the saga’s underworld. Over the years, that project fell by the wayside. But now, with the launch of Disney+, The Mandalorian still carries remnants of the Star Wars show that almost was.

In fact, the new series — which focuses on a mysterious Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) — might be exactly what the brand needs right now. With the Skywalker saga about to end, creator Jon Favreau and his team prove with a single episode why The Mandalorian is required viewing for fans.

Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, and Carl Weathers of 'The Mandalorian'
Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, and Carl Weathers of ‘The Mandalorian’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

An untapped corner of the ‘Star Wars’ universe

A “space opera” through and through, Star Wars has always chronicled the grand struggle between good and evil. Every film follows — at least in part — the conflict between heroic rebels and a sinister regime. But while The Mandalorian clearly takes place in the wake of the Empire’s fall, its main story exists largely in shadows.

The title character isn’t firmly on the side of good or evil but falls somewhere in between the two. Live-action Star Wars has barely scratched the surface of such moral ambiguity, but The Mandalorian confidently takes it head-on. Viewers are then treated to the seedier side of the saga, the dark corners that exist outside galactic stakes.

Characters like Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) hint at the forgotten side of the battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. While forces on either side vie for dominance, what becomes of the rest of us? The Mandalorian promises to dive into this for legitimately the first time in Star Wars history.

The team behind ‘The Mandalorian’ understands the saga

Fans clamoring for an extreme take on the Star Wars saga might not have their bloodlust fully sated by The Mandalorian. After all, the series is on the same streaming service as Frozen and Muppet Babies. But it deftly taps into the action-over-violence aesthetic of the original trilogy.

The result is a more visceral, grimier Star Wars adventure than we’ve ever seen. Favreau — who wrote “Chapter One” — and director Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) know exactly how to channel the vibe that hooked fans back in 1977. Thankfully, the star-studded cast supports this mission perfectly.

Pascal has just the right voice and physicality for the world-weary mercenary. And The Mandalorian has brilliantly filled out the supporting cast so far. Inspired choices like Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi, Werner Herzog, and Horatio Sanz bring the balance of gravitas and humor that is a staple of Star Wars.

Expanding on George Lucas’ original vision

More than just nailing the tone of Star Wars in its purest form, The Mandalorian recreates the saga’s aesthetic. Back when George Lucas was developing Star Wars: Underworld, he compared it to the film noir movies of the 1940s. Visually and narratively, The Mandalorian feels like the realization of that goal.

In essence, the series feels like a hard-boiled crime thriller and a classic Western set in the “galaxy far, far away.” More impressively, it so far resists the temptation to tap into established characters like Boba Fett. Sure, the show features the classic Star Wars iconography but gives it a whole new context.

With the Star Wars films taking a break, fan response to The Mandalorian is all but certain to dictate what the saga will look like going forward. The future of Star Wars is about to be untethered to Anakin Skywalker and his progeny. And if The Mandalorian hints at what’s next, then fans can expect a brave new world of Star Wars storytelling.