CHICAGO — “He’s a badass,” actor Pedro Pascal said succinctly describing his titular antihero in Disney’s upcoming live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (the mastermind behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and stars Pascal, Gina Carano and Carl Weathers, gave fans their first glimpse at the upcoming show, which is set to air on Disney’s new streaming service later this year, at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Sunday.
The limited series will debut on Nov. 12 on Disney+ (a release date in Canada is still TBD, but will be coming shortly). It came about after a pitch from Favreau, who has set his story five years after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi — in between the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order.
“The idea of that world after Return of the Jedi and what would happen and what sort of characters would survive, and what it was like until the new Republic took over,” said Favreau. “You have vestiges of the Empire. You have only the strong surviving. You have chaos taking over the galaxy.”
Favreau added that setting the show during a time period that hasn’t been been touched by other Star Wars films allowed him to explore “smugglers, scum and villainy.”
“For me, that was a very rich environment to tell the story in,” he smiled enthusiastically.
The new series will be directed by Filoni, as well as Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), actor-turned-director Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). Favreau came up with a storyline and delivered one of his earliest scripts to Filoni on Christmas day several years ago, saying that the Mandalorians were his favourite Star Wars characters growing up.
“He’s a bounty hunter and a gunfighter” flying around the outer reaches of the galaxy on a ship dubbed the Razor Crest in Boba Fett-style armour, Favreau said teasing the new character.
“It’s been 15 years working on Star Wars and I’ve never seen them run out of ideas, but this area is so unique,” Filoni added.
The pair then introduced Pascal who gushed about getting a chance to join the Star Wars universe.
“The Mandalorian is a mysterious, lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Some might say he has questionable moral character, in line with some of our best Westerns,” Pascal said. “He’s got a lot of Clint Eastwood in him,” he added saying that Favreau encouraged him to watch films from Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa.
Former MMA fighter Carano revealed her character is an ex-Rebel Shock Trooper named Cara Dune.
She’s a “bit of a loner,” Carano said. “I’m having a bit of trouble reintegrating myself into society.”
Weathers, who soaked in a huge audience ovation, is playing the nefarious Greef Carga.
“The character is a guy who is running a group of bounty hunters,” Weathers said. “He’s looking for someone to go after a product that he wants to deliver to a client. It’s worth a lot … Guess who he finds? He finds a bounty hunter named Mandalorian … and Mando does what needs to be done.”
Favreau says the brand-new story will appeal to die-hard Star Wars fans (in fact, a prerequisite for the directors on the show was that they had to love Star Wars). But, just like he did with Iron Man for Marvel Studios in 2008, he’s aiming to create a concept that will attract newcomers.
It’s “new characters and new stories,” he said. “Let’s make it something people could jump in on who don’t know anything about Star Wars and enjoy, but if you’ve been a fan, there’s been a lot of care that goes into all the details,” Favreau continued.
Everyone that was in attendance was then treated to the first-ever glimpse of footage, which opened with The Mandalorian activating a tracking device before entering a cantina.
Later, we see a scene of The Mandalorian getting a “face-to-face” job from Greef and shortly after he meets a space gangster played by German filmmaker Werner Herzog.
“Greef Carga said you would be coming,” he says before giving him his task, which is to deliver a person — preferably alive.
There’s a brief standoff involving several stormtroopers, with one of them telling The Mandalorian he’s outnumbered.
“I like those odds,” Mando replies.
The audience was thrilled by a few of the sizzle reel’s Easter eggs, including a scene that showed Salacious Crumb about to be barbecued and an IG-88 battle ready. We also got to see the Mando squaring off against Cara and some Stormtroopers. And then we hear Herzog’s galactic baddie’s voice ominously warning us, “The Empire improves every system it touches.”
“It will feel gritty and it will feel real,” Filoni promised.
The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars series, but it won’t be the last. Disney+ has already announced a Rogue One prequel featuring Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor.
And once the Skywalker Saga wraps later this year with The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm will embark on a new series of Star Wars films from Game of Thrones series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.
The Mandalorian will debut Nov. 12 on Disney+.