The Mandalorian, which premiered today on the new Disney+ streaming service, focuses on characters new to Star Wars in settings unexplored by the 42-year-old franchise. However, series creator Jon Favreau (Iron Man) was adamant that anyone who became part of the project understood and appreciated the stories that have already been told. That was especially true of the people he hired to direct the first season’s eight episodes.
“To me that was the bottom-line prerequisite,” Favreau told CBR and other media outlets ahead of The Mandalorian's debut. “You didn’t have to be the most experienced, you didn’t have to have worked on Star Wars before, you didn’t even have to have ever directed live-action before -- we had a few people … that hadn’t done that. The thing was that you had to be willing to collaborate, you had to love Star Wars and you had to want to do something great and help invent this new thing.”
That spirit of collaboration was important to Favreau. He wanted everyone, especially the directors, to feel creative ownership of the show. Favreau explained, “[It’s] people who got together because they love Star Wars. And this enthusiasm that seems to be very contagious… There’s this real enthusiasm that’s very organic as we’re telling the stories. And it’s a really collaborative environment. We talk a lot about story and then I write most of it but that’s just a jumping off point for the directors to be very involved and very collaborative, and all the people who are involved whether it’s ILM or Lucasfilm or within the cast of The Mandalorian.
“And so it becomes this really fun, collaborative thing that takes on its own life and own personality. And I think you’ll see with each of the directors that, unlike a lot of television, the directors are really being given [an] opportunity to have authorship over it as though it were a film. So it’s been very exciting for us to have that kind of environment to come to work to everyday.”
Favreau also spoke to his desire to make sure Star Wars fans were acknowledged and celebrated by the show. To do so, he made sure that despite the show’s original characters, each episode included nods to the Star Wars universe that die-hard fans would appreciate.
“We wanted to start fresh with a whole new set of characters that you never met before. And what’s nice about that is it reminds me when we were starting with Iron Man. So for new fans these were new characters, new actors and a new world, even the MCU in that version of it was new. So it was a really nice entry-point for people who didn’t know anything about that world before and just wanted to see a movie and they liked the actors that were in it and we assumed that you didn’t know anything and so we introduced you to everybody.
“But by the same token, the foundation of all of genre are the fans that have been there since the beginning and the people who grew up with it. And so how do you balance those two things at the same time?… I think for much of the time with superhero films there was the notion going back decades that the fans will be there anyway just make it as approachable and accessible as you can to the general audience. But I think that’s changed a lot. I think that Kevin Feige and Avi Arad and all the people who started off with the MCU I think smartly realized… ‘No, those are your fans. That’s who’s been there all along.’ And you build out from the grassroots.
“So we never lose touch with the people who’ve put in the time and who’ve cared. And so there are ways that, even though we have new characters and you can jump in because it’s chapter one, we wanted to make sure that if you were watching and you knew about [Star Wars]… we tried to work stuff in… [that] rewards the people who’ve put the time in over the years since they were kids.”
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte. The series debuts Nov. 12 on Disney+, the same date as the streaming service's official launch.