I've seen some cool stuff since I've been in Chicago for this year's Star Wars Celebration - the first teaser trailer for JJ Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, glimpses of Disney's forthcoming Galaxy's Edge theme park, Warwick Davis riding a Segway - but nothing I've seen this year was as cool as the footage Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni just revealed from The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series (well, streaming series, but you get me). Rolling out on Disney+ when it goes live later this year, The Mandalorian looks absolutely spectacular, a top-shelf production with a killer cast and a tone that perfectly captures the "wretched hive of scum and villainy" feel of A New Hope's Cantina sequence. Also it has Werner Herzog.
Today's Mandalorian panel dropped two batches of footage on us, neither of which were made available to people live-streaming the panel at home. The first was more of a behind-the-scenes clip showing off the creatures, sets, and costumes from Favreau's series, along with a few random shots from the show itself: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) using a tracking device while walking through a barren, rainy landscape; the Mandalorian entering a darkened hallway that opened up into a dingy, sleazy-looking backroom somewhere; a few glimpses of Carl Weathers and Gina Carano's characters in their Star Wars gear, holding big-ass rifles. This bit of footage alone was enough to get me hyped about the show, but the second round of footage - which Favreau unveiled after cutting off the live-stream - was truly awesome.
The first scene found Carl Weathers' Grief sitting in a bar (cantina?) with Pascal's Mandalorian, pitching him on a job. After a bit of back and forth about the terms of the deal, The Mandalorian heads out into an alleyway, where a Kowakian monkey-lizard (that's Salacious Crumb's species) was roasting over a fire while another watched on in comical terror from a nearby cage. Soon enough the Mandalorian arrives at another doorway, where a robot eye extended from a portal to grant him entry into the building. The Mandalorian ambles up a hallway and into a room containing several Storm Troopers...and Werner Herzog, sitting behind a large table and wearing a gigantic gold medallion. Herzog makes the Mandalorian another job offer (he seemed to be a crime boss of some sort), one which may or may not have conflicted with the offer made by Grief earlier in the clip (all of this stuff was out of context, so it was a smidge difficult keeping up with the specifics of what was transpiring).
The footage then turned into what felt a lot like a teaser trailer, and it was here that the scope of the show really came into focus: The Mandalorian looks way bigger than I expected, with movie-quality creature effects and enormous sets/backdrops that felt...well, not like what I pictured when I imagined "a live-action Star Wars TV series". It's clear, just from what we saw, that Disney's really pulled out all the stops for this thing (I can't even imagine what the budget on this thing must've been, but whatever it was: it's considerable).
We saw shots of Carano's character getting into fierce hand-to-hand brawls and body-slamming Troopers, Giancarlo Esposito ordering the burning of a village (and some variety of Storm Trooper getting the job done with a flame-thrower), gunfights in the middle of a street (I swear I saw IG-88 double-wielding blasters in there), characters riding on Dewbacks, The Mandalorian's ship (called the Razorcrest) swooping through outer space, Bill Burr (of all people!) firing a pair of blasters up a hallway, his face lit by the red bolts as they left the gun. It was a dizzying, hugely impressive batch of footage, one that left me dying to see more of the series.
By the way, on top of that pronounced "hive of scum and villainy" feel, Filoni and Favreau repeatedly mentioned how influential both samurai films and westerns have been on The Mandalorian, and that influence comes through loud and clear. It's everywhere, from the shots of The Mandalorian standing stoically against wide-open backdrops to the jangly guitar that dotted the soundtrack. It all combines into something really cool and fresh and legitimately exciting. This may be the most I've been excited about a new Star Wars thing in years.
I was legit blown away by what we saw at this panel and hope Disney makes that footage available to y'all online sometime soon. I think you'll be just as hyped as I was.
Stay tuned for more on The Mandalorian as further updates become available.