James Pond on Unsplash
I’m someone who’s been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. As “Rogue One’s” Cassian Andor would say, “I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old.” I’ve seen all of the movies hundreds of times, even the bad ones. Usually, when new Star Wars content comes out, I’m still a fan, because of how much Star Wars means to me. But “The Mandalorian” is different because it is genuinely incredible.
The titular character of “The Mandalorian” takes on the classic character archetype of the lone gunman. He fulfills the role of “the man with no name.” He’s called the Mandalorian. He has a name, and we ultimately do learn it, but even then it’s glossed over. His name has no meaning in this story. He’s simply the Mandalorian.
Pedro Pascal portrays the Mandalorian, however, Pascal himself is not always in the suit. This is extremely common for shows with masked characters and also is not new to Star Wars. In the original trilogy Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones, but it’s David Prowse in the suit. While Pascal is in the suit for parts of the show, Mondo is also portrayed by Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder.
Despite this, each actor nails the character’s body language and movement. It is impossible to distinguish them, making Mando a believable character. It’s a problem they’ve had with Darth Vader appearing in things outside of the Original Trilogy, such as in “Rogue One” and “Revenge of the Sith.” The actors have a tough time nailing David Prowse’s body language as Vader. Luckily, this isn’t an issue in “The Mandalorian.”
Now it’s time to address the elephant in the room. “The Child” or as he’s colloquially known on the internet, “Baby Yoda.” I’ve seen a lot of people criticize the Child as being “there just to sell toys” but I disagree with that belief. The Child fulfills another important part of the classic western formula; something for the stoic, but tough, gunman to grow attached to and ultimately realize that there’s more to life, an iconic trope featured in almost every western movie. Not only does the Child do this, but he also works because the audience is able to grow attached to him. He’s taken the internet by storm and he is already selling tons of merchandise. It’s safe to say that people love the Child.
Ultimately, “The Mandalorian” accomplishes what Star Wars has always done best: tell a fun space adventure while reinventing classic film tropes. The show features two characters who will, in my opinion, be solidified with some of the most popular characters in the franchise. At its worst, the show feels like a live action version of a really good episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and at its best, is some of the highest quality television I’ve seen in recent years.
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have created something genuinely wonderful here, and Taika Wattiti did an incredible job directing the finale, taking the show from being a fun romp to an emotionally charged epic on a cinematic scale. Disney did not mess around with this one, and I’m excited to see what’s next for both “The Mandalorian” when it returns this fall, and the other live-action Star Wars Disney Plus shows in development.