Everyone wants a surefire success every now and then. A decision that is foolproof, universally agreed upon, and requires minimal effort to implement. Introducing The Mandalorian and Grogu, also known as The Child or Baby Yoda, on the big screen could be Disney’s simplest victory since Darth Vader defeated Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars film in 1977.
The recent announcement of the news may come as a surprise, but this is only because we were already anticipating the appearance of the armored space warrior and his adorable force-wielding adopted son in Dave Filoni’s previously announced film. This film is expected to bring together the protagonists from Disney+’s Star Wars TV spin-offs, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka, in a similar style to the Avengers, as they combat the antagonist Grand Admiral Thrawn. However, with the revelation that Din Djarin and Grogu will also have their own separate adventure, directed by series creator Jon Favreau, does this not diminish Filoni’s project?
However, since we are unaware of when these episodes will be released in theaters and considering the amount of proposed Star Wars projects that have been abandoned before production in recent years, it would be best to set aside these concerns for now.
Once again, if Disney had not announced a Mandalorian and Grogu movie, there would likely have been a large outcry and it may have never been resolved. The child with telekinetic abilities and his gruff but caring father figure are incredibly popular. (I even predicted this in March.) Additionally, with Favreau, a competent movie director – known for Iron Man, The Jungle Book, and Elf – in charge, it seems this is the best way to revive Star Wars on the big screen after the monumental mistake of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, I can’t help but have a slight feeling of unease about this prospect.
The primary factor is the name, as names hold great significance in the world of Star Wars. Their reveal generates the same excitement as a new James Bond film’s carefully crafted title. If “The Empire Strikes Back” had been titled “Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader,” it likely would not have had the same cultural impact in 1980. Even “The Force Awakens” has a certain energy to it, while “The Rise of Skywalker” sounds like it was created by an AI searching for the perfect Star Wars movie name. And “The Mandalorian and Grogu”? It just doesn’t have the same impact. It feels like a straightforward and unoriginal approach to naming a film (apologies to our American audience).
Lucasfilm and Disney may have come to terms with the fact that the charm of movies no longer holds the same weight, and that the key factor in titling a new film is to be direct. Considering the widespread adoration for The Mandalorian, it only makes sense to provide audiences with a similar but grander experience. However, this approach is reminiscent of the marketing-driven mindset that resulted in titles like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Baywatch: The Movie.
The transition from TV to film has not been successful in the past. However, when a popular TV show makes the move to the big screen, it usually does so with a completely new cast and creative team, often many years after its initial release. It is uncommon for a TV series to make the leap to theaters while it is still at the height of its popularity. One notable exception is Star Trek, which has had some challenges but has become just as famous for its movies as it is for its television series.
Favreau will be working within a sandbox with almost limitless creative potential. Moreover, he built the sandbox himself, not with Jedi powers but with sheer passion for the saga George Lucas cooked up well over four decades ago from a far out blend of pulp space serials and Akira Kurosawa.
There is still a lot that we don’t know about Grogu, his powerful race, and his role in the future of the galaxy. Favreau and Filoni have been slowly revealing details about Mandalorian culture in the first three seasons of the TV show, leaving much more to be explored. Despite over 50 years of Star Wars, we have not yet had the chance to visit Grogu and Yoda’s home planet. It was not officially mentioned until 2018 that Yoda even had a home planet, making it an interesting starting point for future films.
The concern is that they might make a mistake. The worry is that in their efforts to come up with an impressive and captivating plot that justifies the transition to the big screen, Favreau may unintentionally lose the essence of what made The Mandalorian so exceptional. While the TV series took advantage of its longer duration to provide us with in-depth glimpses of unique species like the egg-laying Frog Lady in season two or a closer look at the deceitful actions of the Jawa in season one, a movie would likely focus more on large-scale space battles. Is a film the appropriate medium for a protagonist as idiosyncratic and endearing as Grogu?
The situation could become even more unfortunate if the film ends up feeling like a prolonged episode of the Disney+ series – something we could have easily watched from home with our subscription. In a way, Favreau is in a lose-lose situation.
Currently, I am willing to set aside any worries and fully embrace the fact that The Mandalorian is prepared and equipped to rescue Star Wars in the cinema. Do you remember what strange CGI Leia said at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when asked what Jyn Erso’s brave group of rebels had given to the rebellion? I believe it was hope.