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Thursday, October 4, 2018

'The Mandalorian' First Look Image and Directors Revealed

A day after Jon Favreau revealed the title and premise of The Mandalorian, StarWars.com has officially announced the rest of the series' creators and released a first look image:
This image is pretty much what we'd expect from the premise: a lone Mandalorian gunfighter. We still don't know who will be playing them, and this image doesn't even confirm their gender. (Female Mandalorian armor as shown in The Clone Wars and Rebels is a little more discernibly feminine, but there could still be a woman under this helmet.)

The five episodic directors are a refreshingly diverse group:
  • Dave Filoni, revered by fans for his work on The Clone Wars and Rebels. This is his first time directing live-action. He'll be directing the first episode, and will also be producing along with Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson. 
  • Deborah Chow, who has directed episodes of series like Mr. RobotJessica Jones, and Better Call Saul. She will be the first Asian person and first woman of color in general to serve as the primary director of a Star Wars project.
  • Rick Famuyiwa, best known for directing 2015's Dope. As a Nigerian American, he will be the first Black primary Star Wars director.
  • Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Solo director Ron Howard and an actress known for the Jurassic World movies. She's only directed short films before. Like Chow, she will be one of the first female Star Wars directors.
  • Taika Waititi, the biggest name on this list, known for Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and What We Do in the Shadows. He is of partial Māori descent and will be the first indigenous Star Wars director. The colorful intergalactic action he displayed in Ragnarok and the humor he brings to all his films will translate nicely to Star Wars.
Let's hope the full cast list will match the diverse and groundbreaking nature of the directors. 

What do you think of this image? What do you hope these directors bring to The Mandalorian? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Title and Premise Revealed for 'The Mandalorian,' Jon Favreau's Live-Action 'Star Wars' Series

As Making Star Wars has been consistently reporting, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars TV series is entering production this week. Favreau took to Instagram to reveal the series' title, "The Mandalorian," as well as the premise: 



A post shared by Jon Favreau (@jonfavreau) on
After the stories of Boba and Jango Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.... 
MSW already reported several times that Favreau's series would involve Mandalorian politics, but now it seems it'll be more about a single warrior than the whole planetary system. The titular character was rumored to be played by Game of Thrones and Kingsman: The Golden Circle star Pedro Pascal, but MSW now says that might not be the case. The full cast will undoubtedly be officially announced in the next few weeks.
It's worth noting that the titular protagonist of the series very well could (and, arguably, should) be female. The premise doesn't use any male pronouns describing the character, and the new canon has made it abundantly clear that Mandalore is a gender-equal society that values women as both warriors and leaders. Moreover, Rebels has made it canon that the Mandalore system is multiracial, so this is an opportunity for Star Wars to have its first on-screen lead of color. (Pascal, for the record, is Latino). 
The premise of a scoundrel traveling the galaxy, shooting up bars and getting involved in the galactic underworld is a very Star Wars-y one, if not especially creative or original. 

Check out MakingStarWars.net for set photos of The Mandalorian and details about who will be directing the series.

What do you think of the title and premise of The Mandalorian? Which characters would you like to see in the series? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kathleen Kennedy Renews Contract; Lucasfilm to Focus on Television

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy—whose name is guaranteed to elicit either fury or unwavering support from any Star Wars fan—has renewed her contract for three more years, THR is reporting. This is a heavy blow against fans who have been demanding and spreading rumors about her departure from Lucasfilm.
Moreover, THR reports that "the near future of Star Wars lies in television," specifically Jon Favreau's live-action series and the Clone Wars revival, both of which are coming to Disney's streaming service (set to launch in the second half of 2019). Though we were already well aware of both these projects, it's good to hear that Lucasfilm will be focusing their resources on them.

After all, Favreau's series would require a huge budget to come anywhere close to the quality of Star Wars films. Nowadays we have cinema-quality television like Game of Thrones that costs $10 million an episode and upwards; a Star Wars series would naturally cost at least that much. Clone Wars would also need a pretty high budget to maintain the beautiful animation featured in the teaser trailer.
THR also notes that Favreau's series (which is rumored to center on Mandalore) is currently casting, meaning that we'll be getting more official details about it in the coming months. If it's anything like the other recent Star Wars projects, the series will be casting young, up-and-coming stars as its leads, with maybe some A-listers finding supporting roles. Good thing Mandalorian armor looks good on literally anyone.

This also matches up with Disney CEO Bob Iger's comments last week that there would be a "slowdown" on Star Wars films after the box office failure of Solo. After Episode IX, the only projects officially in development are Rian Johnson's trilogy and a series of films by the Game of Thrones creators. Variety is reporting that "a spinoff development slate," including Boba Fett's long-rumored film, is being scrapped. 

As for Kennedy herself, there's no doubt that she is extremely competent, experienced, and set in her ways as a manager and producer. However, what a property as big as Star Wars really needs is someone with the creative vision of someone like Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige, who famously plans out films several years in advance and hires reliable, talented, diverse creators. 
Kennedy with Rian Johnson, the only recent Star Wars director who she's actually gotten along with
All this means is that when Kennedy inevitably steps down (be that in three years, five, or even 10), her replacement should be someone with a Feige-level mind—and hopefully someone who's more interested in bringing diverse talent to both sides of the screen.

What do you think of this news? Are you dreading the cost of Disney's streaming service? (You should be.) Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Reminder: L3-37 Deserved Better

In anticipation of the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story's official novelization, StarWars.com has released three excerpts, one of which re-opens the discussion on one of the film's most controversial elements: its treatment of L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lando's droid partner who organizes a slave revolt on Kessel, is severely damaged, and is then uploaded into the Millennium Falcon by Lando and Qi'ra to serve as its navicomputer. 
The excerpt details L3's thought process as she integrates with the Falcon. As brilliantly explained by The Mary Sue and writer Donna Dickens on Twitter, it attempts to make it seem like her sacrifice was her choice, but fails miserably and paints the whole situation in an even worse light. Now that we have a better idea of L3's fate, it's time to remind ourselves that she deserved way, way better.

In the lens of gender politics, what happens to L3 would definitely be considered fridging. She is an independent female-coded character who is granted a moment of empowerment and true purpose when she frees her fellow droids, but is then killed just so Lando has a moment of grief for the droid he secretly loves. As if that weren't bad enough, rather than being allowed a peaceful death – with her last act fulfilling her life goal of droid liberation – she turns into his mute slave. 
And even if you ignore the sexist elements, L3's treatment is still indefensible. Introducing a character whose main characteristic is their quest for equality with humans, turning them into the eternal silent servant for humans, and never recognizing the horrible irony of the situation is objectively poor writing, no matter their gender. 

Maybe you're comforted by the idea that she's been in the Falcon this whole time, helping our heroes through their many adventures. But she's been robbed of her voice, unable to express the sharp attitude that Solo's writers, Jon and Lawrence Kasdan, gave her. And she's never once received credit for all the flights she's navigated—yes, including the Kessel Run. How are we supposed to be satisfied with her fate?

The lesson is that if you want to introduce an empowered female character who can stack up to new and popular heroines like Rey and Jyn Erso, retconning them as the franchise's most famous inanimate object is not a good idea, especially when you've already established their motivation to be freedom and social equality for their people.
It's also worth noting that L3's writing is problematic even before her death. In the film's only meaningful conversation between two women, she reveals to Qi'ra that Lando is attracted to her, though she doesn't totally reciprocate his feelings. The scene ends with a thinly-veiled joke about how sex between Lando and L3 "would work."

But droids aren't supposed to have sex! They never talk about sex! Even humans in Star Wars barely do that! So the idea that the Kasdans introduced the first female droid and immediately felt like they needed to sexualize her, like Lando's desire for her had to be a plot point, like her relationship with him couldn't possibly be a platonic partnership, is inherently sexist. 
It's possible that Episode IX will pay some tribute to L3, even if it's as subtle as Lando's affection for the Falcon when he inevitably (probably) reunites with his old ship. But there is nothing that will fix this. They introduced a likable, funny character, gave her a unique and refreshing motivation, and then ripped away her power and voice in one of the most horrifying ways possible. 

At least Val's too-soon death, which is a whole other issue, is a suicide that she chooses out of loyalty to her team. L3's just been in the Falcon this whole time, forced into the kind of servitude she dedicated her life to fighting.

What fate would you prefer for L3-37? Where do you want to see her next? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Friday, August 17, 2018

'Star Wars Resistance' Trailer Revealed

The first trailer for Star Wars Resistance, a new animated series premiering on Disney XD on October 7, has finally been released. It introduces us to the main protagonist, Kazuda Xiono, a Resistance pilot sent by none other than Poe Dameron (voiced by Oscar Isaac, of course) to a refueling station called the Colossus to identify potential allies and enemies. 
No doubt, some fans are already criticizing Resistance for being "too kid-friendly" to be taken seriously. But we have to remember that The Clone Wars and Rebels also pandered to younger audiences initially, and then transitioned into more mature and complex themes over time. Granted, Resistance will probably not be taking us to Mortis or the world between worlds, but we still can't dismiss it until we've seen at least a few episodes.

No, the biggest obstacle facing Resistance is the competition on the Star Wars landscape right now. The Clone Wars Season 7 isn't premiering for over a year, but it already has a huge fanbase, it's guaranteed to have more adult themes, and it seems to be the main focus of Dave Filoni and Lucasfilm Animation (which is why Resistance has cheaper animation and a more rushed marketing). 
Add that to Jon Favreau's live-action TV series (which will likely begin production in the next few months) and Episode IX (which is filming now), and Resistance will have a hard time making an impact on the fandom in the way Clone Wars and Rebels did. Though with all this other Star Wars content, maybe it's okay if Resistance is just a low-stakes cartoon that we can enjoy without obsessing over. 

At the very least, Resistance should be praised for its strong Asian, black, and Latinx representation among both its voice cast and its characters. Xiono is voiced by half-Japanese actor Christopher Sean and seems to be coded as Asian, so Resistance will be the first on-screen Star Wars story with a main protagonist of color and an actor of color portraying them. Regardless of the series' tone, that importance can't be understated.

In addition to Poe and BB-8, the series will see the familiar faces of Captain Phasma (voiced by Gwendoline Christie) and General Leia Organa (voiced by Rachel Butera).

What do you think of this trailer? What do you hope to see in Star Wars Resistance? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.