Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and what can only be described as a nonviolent, Star Wars-themed gang of “Mandalorian Mercs” welcomed Jon Favreau on stage for The Mandalorian panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, a presentation that gave attendees a first look at the upcoming Disney+ live-action series.
Favreau was joined on stage by Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels director Dave Filoni, who directed at least one episode—and, according to Favreau, played a strong consulting role on the series, as did George Lucas. Then they were joined by series star Pedro Pascal, who stars as a new character known—for the time being, at least—simply as the Mandalorian. Pascal described his character, who’s heavily influenced by Clint Eastwood, thusly: “He’s a mysterious lone gunfighter on the outer reaches of the galaxy. I would say some might say he has questionable moral character, which is in line with some of our best Westerns.” His ship, Favreau revealed, is called Razor Crest, “a reflective silver old army gunship.”
Also on hand was Gina Carano, who plays Kara Dune, “an ex-rebel shock trooper” who’s “a bit of a loner ... I’m having a bit of trouble re-integrating myself into society,” and Carl Weathers, who plays Greef, the head of a loose guild of bounty hunters who sends the Mandalorian on the mission that drives the series’ plot. “He’s looking for someone to go after a product for a client that’s very valuable, and guess who he finds?,” Weathers teased. The series takes place five years after the events of Return Of The Jedi, a time period Favreau compared to the late samurai period in Japan or post-Civil War America. The series will feature new species, planets, and starships, but Favreau and Filoni promise longtime fans that “we’ve got a lot in there for you.”
As for that mission, at the end of the panel Favreau turned off the live stream and showed a pair of scenes from the series. In the first, “’Mando” meets with Greef at a run-down desert cantina, and Greef offers him a “direct commission, face to face” that pays better than the rest of the bounties he’s got available that day, but also requires great secrecy. After a walk through a Middle Eastern-style marketplace—we see Kowakian monkey-lizards roasting on spits, which got a big laugh—the Mandalorian is escorted into a plain concrete room guarded by four stormtroopers in beat-up armor. Then the camera pans back to reveal Werner Herzog sitting behind a table; another character who Herzog refers to as “Dr. Pershing” comes into the room, and the Mandalorian points his blaster at the newcomer, leading to a brief standoff.
Then Herzog apologizes for his colleague’s behavior (“his enthusiasm outweighs his discretion,” he says), and asks the Mandalorian to sit down and talk business. Turns out Herzog’s character is a neo-Imperialist gangster of some sort who wants to see the Empire restored across the galaxy, and as part of this mission he needs a bounty hunter to track down an anonymous, 50-year-old target and return them—preferably alive, but “proof of termination is also acceptable for a lower fee.” The Mandalorian accepts the bounty, about which he has only a few scraps of encrypted information. In return, he’ll be paid in billets of beskar, the indestructible iron used to make his armor. As the Mandalorian leaves the room, Herzog says, “it is good to restore the natural order of things after a period of such disarray. Don’t you agree?”
That was followed by a teaser for the series, which teased a lot of gunplay, a lot of hand-to-hand combat, and strong Western aesthetics for the series, which Favreau stated several times was strongly influenced by Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Extensive animatronics, puppetry, and miniatures were all utilized for the series, and of what we saw, all the effects looked practical. IG-88 was in the trailer, which made the crowd go nuts; he wasn’t the only throwback creature, though, as a Jawa Sandcrawler, a Dewback, Scout Troopers, and ROTJ-era Speeder Bikes all made appearances in the trailers and concept art that were shown at the panel. And if all that isn’t enough, Giancarlo Esposito appears in the trailer piloting a TIE fighter and wearing a pretty incredible cape.