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Mild Spoiler Alert: This article contains mentions of characters and vague plot descriptions about The Mandalorian. If you'd rather go into the show knowing absolutely nothing about it, read no further.
While the level of Disney+’s dominance in the streaming game is still uncertain, one thing that is quite obvious is that the new Star Wars side story, The Mandalorian, is a runaway success. Heck, if you've been pretty much anywhere on the internet over the last month, you don’t even have to have watched a single episode to know about baby Yoda, as he’s easily the show’s most popular character, dominating social media with a plethora of memes.
But if you’re still on the fence about getting started watching the Disney+ exclusive because you don’t think you’re a big enough Star Wars nerd, have no fear. Jon Favreau’s latest project doesn’t require all that much Star Wars knowledge to get you invested. Here’s a one shop stop to learn everything you need to know about The Mandalorian before you get started.
When Does The Mandalorian Take Place?
Situated five years after Episode 6 (Return of the Jedi), and twenty-five years before Episode 7 (The Force Awakens), The Mandalorian is set in that almost-lawless period following the fall of the Galactic Empire in the old trilogy (think Darth Vader) and the birth of The First Order in the new (Think Kylo Ren). That means that there are a lot of out-of-work Stormtroopers moseying about doing bodyguard work and security detail. That also means that it’s hunting season for bounty hunters. As bounty hunters go, Mandalorians are the best of the best, and spotting one out in the open is super rare, which is why the hero of this new story is constantly being targeted.
What Is The Mandalorian About?
So far, the best way to describe The Mandalorian is to say that it’s like a cross between the movies -- Willow and John Wick: Chapter 2 -- that just so happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. Let me explain. Obviously, Baby Yoda isn’t a spoiler anymore, so a key plot point of The Mandalorian is that the title character crosses paths with "the Child," referred to as Baby Yoda by viewers. That’s the Willow comparison.
The John Wick: Chapter 2 comparison comes in since the titular bounty hunter is naturally skilled at fighting his way through obstacles when necessary. The first episode introduces the Mandalorian to the Child. From there, he has choices to make and a lot of major challenges to overcome. In the interest of not spoiling too much, that's all I'm going to say.
What Do I Have to Remember About The Original Star Wars Movies Before I Watch?
Honestly, beyond understanding where this story fits into the the timeline of Star Wars, there isn't much more that you need to know, but here are a few bits of information that might help.
Boba Fett Is Not A Mandalorian (And Not IN The Mandalorian)
You might recognize that the title character bears a striking resemblance to the popular Star Wars character, Boba Fett. But the thing is, Boba Fett is NOT a Mandalorian, even though he wears a similar armor (And it’s okay if you don’t know who Boba Fett is, since he won’t be appearing in The Mandalorian anyway). Boba Fett was actually a clone of Jango Fett, a renowned Mandalorian who we learn about in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
Mandalorians Are Legendary
What’s important to note is that Mandalorians are the best of the best when it comes to bounty hunting. They’re also in hiding during the events of The Mandalorian, which is why the title character stands out like a sore thumb. The Mandalorians are legendary, which makes them a great subject for a Star Wars side-story.
Major Characters From The Star Wars Movies Won't Be Showing Up
It's also important to note that all of the other famous Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Princess Leia, etc won’t be appearing in The Mandalorian.
It Isn't All About The Force
The force—that mystical power that’s half telepathy/half telekinesis—is also MOSTLY absent so far from the show, as this series is mostly ground level stuff. Think blasters rather than lightsabers.
Expect Some Easter Eggs
You really don’t need much knowledge of the Star Wars movies to enjoy this show, but there are some cool Easter eggs and call backs if you’ve at least slightly familiar with the movies. Several alien races, such as Jawas and Banthas, make appearances. Thankfully, almost all of the Star Wars movies are streaming on Disney+ so you could just catch up on them if you’re interested. None of them are required viewing to enjoy this series though.
Is The Mandalorian Okay For Kids?
This really depends on what you allow your children to watch. My kids are ages four and two and they watch The Mandalorian, but I also show my children Wu-tang Clan martial arts movies and violent cartoons like Tom and Jerry. So I would say that The Mandalorian is no worse than what you might see in the current Star Wars films. I mean, come on now. I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not, but Luke Skywalker gets his hand chopped off by a lightsaber in Episode V, so violence has always somewhat played a part in Star Wars.
There are a few scenes in The Mandalorian where the hero lights other characters on fire and shoots them dead in the dirt. But it’s nothing too traumatizing or violent for even the youngest child. This is Disney+ we’re talking about after all. They probably wouldn’t allow anything that would potentially get parents to cancel their subscriptions.
Is The Mandalorian Really As Good As People Say?
Does The Mandalorian live up to the hype? Oh, yeah. In fact, I’d argue that it surpasses it. As somebody who considers himself a casual Star Wars fan at best, I think The Mandalorian is everything I like about the popular series (the weird creatures, the strange planets, the ground wars) and pretty much devoid of everything I dislike about it (the Skywalker family, the force, Jar Jar Binks, etc). And everybody seems to agree. Rogue One is actually my favorite Star Wars movie, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
So if you’re afraid that you’re not a big enough Star Wars geek to get invested in The Mandalorian, don’t be. You probably couldn’t find a more casual Star Wars “fan” than me. And when I say that I’m excited for every Friday to roll around just so I can watch another new episode, that’s saying something. The Mandalorian is just flat out good television, and pretty much the only reason I even keep my subscription to Disney+ until the Marvel stuff comes around.
Seriously, you have to check it out. It's phenomenal.