What’s the Best Star Wars Project in the Last 20 Years, and Why Is It The Mandalorian?
As someone who has seen every Star Wars movie at least once, sometimes I wish the original had bombed. Star Wars (1977) is a terrific space adventure movie for kids, and you can enjoy it without needing to read any ancillary novels, or Google anything, or remember stuff that happened decades ago. The original movie has a simple story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. A farm boy rescues a princess, and it's not weird when she kisses him because the writers haven't yet retroactively made her his long-lost sister. You don't need to know anything about galactic politics or trade routes or midichlorians or any other boring crap. If Star Wars hadn't become a cultural phenomenon 40 years ago, if it hadn't changed the movie industry forever, today we'd look back on it as a cult classic. A hidden gem. "Remember that old space movie with the gold robot and the dog-bear guy who growled at everybody? That was so great. Too bad it never caught on..." And it would also mean we’d be spared 40 years of crappy rip-offs.
That's also why I think The Mandalorian, the brand-new series on the brand-new Disney Plus streaming service, is the best Star Wars project since Star Wars. Spoilers ahead...
The Mandalorian is the story of a nameless bounty hunter from the planet Mandalore, a world where people wear full-face armored helmets all the time and practice a religion based on armed combat. The title character is from the same race as Boba Fett -- a mysterious bounty hunter who was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, killed off in Return of the Jedi, and then ruined in the prequels -- but you don't need to know that to enjoy the show. In the three episodes broadcast so far, Mando (as he's nicknamed) rescues a little alien baby who's from the same planet as the ancient warrior-monk Yoda, also introduced in Empire. Even though the little fella can't talk and looks like a six-month-old baby, we're told that he's actually 50 years old.* Some bad people want to do bad things to the child, so Mando rescues him, and now they're on the run from every bad guy in the galaxy.