Star Wars hits the small screen: A first look at The Mandalorian

Star Wars is a series that has dominated our cinema screens for just over forty years now, and after so many decades as a colossus of film, merchandising, gaming, animation and general cultural persistence, it’s incredible that it has not hit the small screen in a big way. Until now, that is.

In an announcement on starwars.com, Lucas film recently peeled back the curtain to unveil a glimpse at their first offering into the world of live-action television for the franchise.The Mandalorian, set to launch with Disney’s upcoming Netflix-rivalling streaming service in 2019, is said to focus on a lone gunslinger in the far reaches of the galaxy between the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 2015’s The Force Awakens.

To those unfamiliar with the history of the galaxy far, far away, the constantly-shifting chronology and seemingly senseless timeline, this is not going to get any easier to comprehend. In simple terms the series serves as our first major piece of media set in the 30-year gap between the death of Darth Vader and the events of the new generation in this new era of Star Wars. Details have been sparse about what occurred in the interceding years, and perhaps now we will have an explanation; to leave space for The Mandalorian to roam.

It’s unknown who’s beneath the rugged armour of our mysterious lone gunslinger as of yet, who’ll be joining them, or even whether we’ll see any returning familiar characters. However, it is known that there is some superb camera talent assembled for this project.

Jon Favreau, the man behind everything from charming indie classic Chef to 2016’s epic The Jungle Book, and perhaps most revered for his kickstarting of the colossal Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man in 2008, finds himself in his first role as writer, executive producer and show-runner of a television series with The Mandalorian. An actor in both this year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and the animated series The Clone Wars, Favreau is both an inspired pick with a diverse repertoire and is intimately connected with the franchise, and he’s assembled a surprisingly diverse and unique group of talents to bring his vision to life.

Directors of the series include Dave Filoni, creator of three of the Star Wars saga’s animated series so far, Taika Waititi of Thor: Ragnarok and What We do in the Shadows fame, and several landmarks in representation for the saga; Rick Famuyiwa is the first non-caucasian director of a Star Wars project, and both Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas-Howard mark the saga’s first female directors. All talented creatives, they each bring a unique style and background to the table that will hopefully keep each episode of the series feeling like a fresh experience.

With Star Wars dominating the big screen for so long and so powerfully in recent years, can a foray into television achieve the heights the films have (somewhat inconsistently) reached for? The Mandalorian seems to be doubling down on the Western space-adventure vibe that made the original Star Wars so beloved in 1977, but in light of Solo’s recent attempt and failure to do the same, have audiences shied away from that vision?

Star Wars has remained an event over the years, with each film providing its own period of excitement, anticipation, and an unmatched sense of palpable exhilaration in hushed cinemas as the familiar blue tagline of “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” fades onto the screen. Will that sense of magic and wonder be kept alive when you’re two tubs of ice dream deep into the tail-end of a six-episode binge on your laptop?

Rumour has it that the series will target a Game of Thrones-sized budget, which is good news for viewers, but will this series be enough to drive people to buy yet another streaming subscription in 2019? In the wake of a high-profile box office failure this year and a litany of increasingly absurd controversies, outcries and harassment campaigns targeting the new films, is the Star Wars saga’s ‘star’ still bright enough to bring this series into the spotlight?

Image: KAMKAZOW via Wikimedia Commons

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