Photo credit Forbes.com
The Mandalorian is one of my favorite shows right now.
So far, I’ve really liked everything they’ve done with the character. When I first heard they were going to do a live-action Star Wars show I wasn’t that excited since I wasn’t crazy about many of the showings since the Disney takeover.
But, I saw the trailer and figured I would give it a chance.
The first episode wasn’t perfect, but I was in. This felt more like Star Wars than anything I’d seen in a long time.
So I thought about what made it so good.
Favreau is the head writer and showrunner and his fingerprints are all over this. While now he’s best known for playing Happy Hogan in the MCU, he’s also the director of the first and second Iron Man movies. This is what The Mandalorian reminds me of the most. The first Iron Man movie was maybe my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was also the most grounded of that movie series. The effects were very well done and many of them were practical.
There was also a tactile feel to the whole film. This was before they used an entirely digital Iron Man costume and it showed. He felt like a real object because he was. The suit had weight to it and you could hear it move, it felt like he was really wearing a robotic suit. In the later movies he moves so fluidly that it ruins the effect.
It’s much the same with The Mandalorian. It’s the same tactile sense that creates a real feeling. It doesn’t feel like a soundstage. The universe feels lived in. Everything is dirty and grimy which used to be the hallmark of a Star Wars film and it’s returned to its roots.
Dave Filoni is the other showrunner and another reason the show is so good. Dave Filoni, between Rebels and The Clone Wars, has demonstrated that he understands the Star Wars universe.
The Clone Wars has some of the best Star Wars moments. There’s the Mortis arc, fleshing out Obi-Wan and Anakin’s friendship, and the entire Darth Maul arc. It’s all great to watch.
He’s brought the same feeling to The Mandalorian. Filoni is adept at figuring out what people want to see, and he creates interesting stories.
This is probably the most self-explanatory part of the whole article. But, suffice to say, if the Mandalorian isn’t good, The Mandalorian won’t be good.
But “Mando” is great. He starts as straight Clint Eastwood-esque man with no name type but slowly reveals to have a lot of personalities.
He’s also not a good guy in the traditional sense. He’s mostly watching out for himself, and he’s not above getting his hands dirty, but then shows a softer side when caring for the Baby Yoda character.
He also has a bit of Indiana Jones in him. Harrison Ford once said that he wanted Indy to be a mortal hero, and the reason that people resonate with the character is that he’s not indestructible. We see him get hurt throughout the films.
It’s much the same with the Mandalorian. He’s hurt. He fails. He doesn’t always win. He’s competent but he’s not a superhero. And, he gets by on his skills. He’s not a space wizard that can develop new powers every time the story calls for it.
The tone affects everything mentioned above. But, it’s what I’ve wanted to see. We get to see the seedy underbelly of Star Wars. It’s grounded. It’s violent. It’s like a great western but with blasters.
The music helps cement the tone. The Mandalorian’s theme has a high noon drifter vibe that works perfectly with the show.
The people in charge of each episode have been nothing more short of brilliant. Each episode has that vintage feel but they still deliver well done action. This is important as The Mandalorian is pretty action heavy.
Well, action heavy isn’t the right word.
This show is almost entirely action in a lot of the episodes.
There have been some really stand out directing performances.
Recently, Bryce Dallas Howard took the helm of an episode. She did a fantastic job. One, it was a bit of tricky thing as they had to introduce Bo Katan and thereby bringing together The Mandalorian into Dave Filoni’s animated Star Wars Universe.
There were all kinds of things at work here. They brought back a favorite character, and they were able to translate the character from 3D animation to live action which doesn’t always work. I think it was also a bit of a statement that The Mandalorian will be sticking closer to what Filoni established with The Clone Wars and Rebels rather than having much to do with the Disney sequels.
It also looked great. I want Bryce Dallas Howard to direct a Star Wars movie. There were so many scenes that looked like old school Star Wars matte painting.
She’s not the only director doing great. Carl Weathers also directed the most recent episode and it was pretty great. It was nearly non stop action. It reminded of a smaller scale, live action version of the early 2000’s animated Star Wars show.
The sequence with the speeder bikes was phenomenal and the last minute aerial battle with the Razorcrest was like a space version of Top Gun.
Last, but not least, Baby Yoda. Yes, he captured the Internet’s heart but he works in the show.
If you would have told me the show would have been essentially an escort mission I might not have watched it. But he’s adorable and the little guy has personality. And he creates some intrigue as well as creating a reason to have a show in the first place.
Also, they made the right call to use a puppet. It makes a huge difference. It adds to the tactile/grounded vibe I mentioned earlier, and it’s a nice call back to using a puppet for Yoda back in the day.
Reportedly, Favreau wanted to go with a digital version but Werner Herzog made a rather compelling case not to.
So there you have it.
It’s 20 to 30 minutes of a good time each week. It’s funny at times but too humorous. It’s just right.
Now go watch it.