The moment baby Yoda emerged from his floating cocoon, Disney’s The Mandalorian stole our hearts. It also revived the powerful mythos of one of the Star Wars universe’s most beloved characters: the original Mandalorian, Boba Fett. While I’m still a little heartbroken about the rumored-to-be-canceled Boba Fett standalone film, as a lifelong Star Wars fan I’m thrilled to have new content that’s making a whole new generation fall in love with my favorite sci-fi franchise. So, it is with excitement tempered by the knowledge borne from years of deep-diving into Star Wars lore that I (Jonathan) give you my take on The Mandalorian. This is the way.
Speaking of that catchphrase, what a genius bit of screenwriting. Catchy, memorable, and instantly meme-able, it has worked its way into pop culture almost as indelibly as ‘the child,’ aka baby Yoda. And it neatly ties together the various elements of Mando culture like their warrior legacy and loyalty to their clan. Whether you have background knowledge of Mandalorians or not, the show lays out their identity in a highly accessible fashion.
But it’s not just a cultural representation–the visuals you’re treated to as a viewer are jaw-dropping. Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armor was the single most iconic element of his character, and The Mandalorian leverages that to tremendous effect. Din Djarin’s stunning armor pays homage to Boba’s classic set while channeling the modern sleekness of Jango Fett and Bo-Katan Kryze’s ensembles. It perfectly balances the galactic gunslinger aspects of Djarin’s character with the ruthless nature of Mandalorian warriors. Cosplayers like my friend Blake will be having a field day for a long time thanks to this show. (shameless plug, he makes amazing dioramas and his own armor. Check out his Instagram: @mythos_fenn_shysa)
*SPOIILERS AHEAD* Now, I told you this was a super fan’s review, and we’re about to make the jump to nerd speed. I will never forgive Disney for tossing out the original Star Wars expanded universe and replacing it with their lackluster ‘canon,’ only to borrow liberally from the decades of work by authors, illustrators, and other creators. If you want an example of this, look up the Kaiburr vs kyber crystal debate. Oh, and the term ‘darksaber?’ That was the title of of a book by Kevin J. Anderson that came out in 1995 that detailed a plot by one of Jabba the Hutt’s relatives to build a Death Star-like superweapon. Disney (and the creators of The Clone Wars) would like you to forget that.
As it pertains to The Mandalorian specifically, the series just teased the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character created in 1991. Let that sink in. Almost three decades later, and Disney still can’t come up with anything better than the Chiss savant introduced to us by Timothy Zahn, one of the most prolific and well-regarded authors of Star Wars content. Make no mistake, I’m thrilled to see this happen, but I can’t help but think of how much better the new Star Wars films would have been if they’d just followed the established trajectory from the original expanded universe. There was a galaxy’s worth of comics, video games, books, and more, and Disney just threw it all away. Thrawn’s appearance in their flagship Star Wars show reveals the magnitude of that error–but perhaps it means they’re learning from it as well.
For all my Mando’ade out there, I know there must be parts of this show that make you say “bic ni skana’din.” But let’s try to celebrate the fact that as the Skywalker era draws to a close, Mandalore’s legacy marches on. The Mandalorian is the standard-bearer for everything that made me fall in love with Star Wars in the first place. I’m excited to follow the show’s trajectory and to see what new adventures we’ll share in our favorite galaxy far, far away.