Jon Favreau, a frequent Disney collaborator and the showrunner of The Mandalorian, told Entertainment Weekly in August that the series will explore the “darker, freakier side of Star Wars, the Mad Max aspect of Star Wars.” Based on a trailer, the series is obviously inspired by Westerns—with the unnamed bounty hunter as its version of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name,” who also influenced Lucas’ conception of Fett in the late 1970s.

After his initial appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, in which he is tasked by Darth Vader to capture Han Solo, Fett quickly became a fan favorite. In 2010, Empire magazine ranked him as the 79th greatest movie character of all time, ahead of Norman Bates from Psycho, The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, and even Princess Leia. A rare Fett prototype action figure sold for £90,000 ($116,000) at auction earlier this year, a record for the purchase of a Star Wars toy. The previous record holder was also a Fett toy.

the mandalorian disney
Image: Lucasfilm

Disney’s decision to make a Fett-like character the centerpiece of its streaming product, rather than a more important character like Luke Skywalker, or a lesser known one like “Jek Porkins,” is calculated. The character can’t be so crucial to the narrative that it cannibalizes the Star Wars movies or risks permanently damaging their status. (A Chewbacca series, for instance, just wouldn’t work.) But the character also needs to be a big enough draw to reel in subscribers. In all fairness to Jeff Goldblum, no one is signing up for Disney+ solely to watch The World According to Jeff Goldblum. They will, however, sign up for The Mandalorian. But it has to work for them to stay.

Still, there are risks. As Justin Charity points out on The Ringer website, Lucasfilm has already over-embellished Fett’s mythology in the prequel trilogy, in which Fett was revealed to be the son-clone of his father, Jango Fett. Even though the Mandalorian is not Boba Fett, the series could ruin much of what made the character, his origin, his race, and his planet so interesting—the mystery. The disappointing box office performance of Solo proves that the Star Wars name alone is not enough to successfully sell a product to the masses.

Disney’s streaming success won’t be decided in a week, and perhaps not even in a year. But the company needs Disney+ to come out firing to prove to investors its ready to compete in the new entertainment landscape. If its aim is half as true as Fett’s, it’ll reap the rewards.

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