Star Wars is heading into uncharted territory, and we're not talking the outer rims. The launch of Disney+ has fans buckling up for our first ever live-action Star Wars television series. While there have been rumors about this happening forever, and although we've gotten a few animated series set in the Star Wars universe already — looking at you, Clone Wars and Rebels — the franchise is finally making the leap to live-action TV with The Mandalorian.
As usual when it comes to anything Star Wars related, The Mandalorian, which hails from the creative mind of Jon Favreau, has been shrouded in secrecy since it was announced. But as Disney+ users prepare to press play on the new series, here's everything we know so far about The Mandalorian, including when new episodes debut, what it's about, and whether or not any familiar faces could make an appearance.
The Mandalorian premiere is available on Disney+ at launch. The series premiere is available on Disney+ as of its launch on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
It will air weekly. Season 1 of The Mandalorian is just eight episodes. Episode 2 debuts on Friday, Nov. 15, just a few days after the premiere. New episodes will be released every Friday after that, with the Season 1 finale scheduled for Dec. 27.
It takes place after the fall of the Empire. The Mandalorian is set a few years after the events of Return of the Jedi, which means it's after the fall of the Empire but before the rise of the First Order, whose origins remain a bit mysterious. Set on the outer edges of the galaxy, far from the New Republic, The Mandalorian's story exists in a lawless world.
"It's like after the Roman Empire falls, or when you don't have a centralized shogun in Japan — and, of course, the Old West, when there wasn't any government in the areas that had not yet been settled," Favreau explained to Entertainment Weekly. "Those are also cinematic tropes in films that originally inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars."
However, there are many hints that the Empire still has a hand in what is going in the galaxy.
It's about a lone bounty hunter. "I've always been curious what the other people in the cantina are up to," Favreau told Entertainment Weekly of the show and its characters. "We're digging really deep in the toy chest and pulling out the action figures that people were always curious about and were not quite in the center frame, but have a lot of potential."
The series' central character, known as the Mandalorian, is played by Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal and has no other name (at least not yet). A lone gunfighter living on the outer edges of the galaxy, he rarely takes off his helmet and has a ship known as The Razor Crest. Mando, as he was known on set, is hired by Carl Weathers's Greef Carga, the leader of a bounty hunters' guild who dispatches hunters to collect wanted individuals in the aftermath of the war.
"[Greef's] looking for someone to bring a product to a client... guess who he finds? He finds a bounty hunter named Mandalorian. He hires this guy, sends him out there, and Mando does what needs to be done," Weathers told fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago earlier this year.
We have an official trailer. Feast your eyes on this bad boy, which debuted at the end of October.
Don't expect to see any familiar characters. At least not in the first season, according to Favreau.
It has Western and Samurai influences. Favreau and director and executive producer Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels) drew a lot of inspiration from Westerns and Samurai films, and that goes for the characters as well as the style and tone of the series.
"The character is very much built on the iconic presence of the Man With No Name in the Sergio Leone movies, played by Clint Eastwood, [and] the lone samurai in Akira Kurosawa," Pascal told the Los Angeles Times of the Mandalorian. "It's aesthetically and very, very much narratively built in that kind of iconic lone gunslinger/sword-wielder."
The show stays true to the Star Wars mythology. If you were worried that the show would somehow fail to connect with the larger Star Wars universe you know and love, you can put your mind at rest. "We have Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, who know these worlds incredibly well, who are so well-versed in everything," Weathers told TV Guide in October. "They really want to keep consistent with the Star Wars lore and the Star Wars world and Star Wars mythology."
The cast is dang impressive. Joining Pascal and Weathers in the cast is Gina Carano, who comes from the world of mixed martial arts and plays Cara Dune, an ex-Rebel Shock Trooper now living as a mercenary. She fought in the civil war for the Rebel Alliance and is having trouble readjusting to normal life. Worth noting is the fact that Carano often did a lot of her own stunts, much to the surprise of Favreau and the crew.
"There was one scene where Gina had to carry a wounded character," Favreau said during Star Wars Celebration earlier this year. "Gina lifted him up and carried him off [without the use of a double]." Carano then explained that everyone asked her if "they put a dummy in" for her to carry, and she corrected them. "No, this is a real human," she said.
Meanwhile, actor and director Taika Waititi, who also stepped behind the camera to direct the Season 1 finale, voices an assassin droid known as IG-11, who he says is "very innocent and naive and direct and doesn't know about sarcasm and doesn't know how to lie... It's like a child with a gun."
Elsewhere, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming-Na Wen is playing the assassin Fennec Shand. According to Vanity Fair, she'll cross paths with Pascal's eponymous character midway through the show's first season. Described as someone who is only "loyal to herself," Fennec appears to lean more closely to the dark side than the light, making her the first major female Asian character to appear in the extended universe who leans more toward the villain side of things. However, it might not be that simple. "Thinking that she's a mercenary, it can go either way," Wen told the outlet of her character's allegiance. "I think it remains to be seen."
Finally, Giancarlo Esposito appears as Moff Gideon, a former governor under the Empire whose world fell apart around the same time as the Rebels destroyed the second Death Star, and Nick Nolte is an Ugnaught alien named Kuiil. Rounding out the cast are Werner Herzog, Omid Abtahi, and Emily Swallow.
It has already been renewed. Disney+ renewed the series for a second season well before the first even launched, which is a big sign of faith in the show.
It's meant for non-Star Wars fans, too. The series is intended to have a much broader appeal than the films, so anyone can just jump right in and enjoy the story, whether they're a fan of the films or not.
The 501st Legion makes its first on-screen appearance in the Star Wars Universe. While filming, Favreau and Filoni realized that they didn't have enough Stormtroopers. Since costumes are very expensive to make, and because they needed more background Stormtroopers quickly, Filoni called in a favor to The 501st Legion, "an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor and other villains from the Star Wars universe."
"It was like late on a Thursday, early Friday, where we put a call out [to the Legion that] we needed a bunch of Stormtroopers," Filoni told the crowd at Star Wars Celebration. "They came down out of nowhere, and a lot of [their costumes are] better than what we see on screen. Their armor is so accurate and they act like real Stormtroopers."
The only thing is that no one told them what they were showing up for. "They were so surprised," Filoni added. "[Usually they're called in for] a function, or a [convention] panel. It's not normally you show up and there's a Mandalorian." Having them on set also worked as a "test audience," with Filoni noting that when certain things were rolled out in front of them during scenes, he and Favreau would note, "Oh, they seem to like that."
Additional reporting by Rachel Paige