Over the past four decades, Star Wars has spawned plenty of movies, animated shows, and video games, but live-action television has always been the one unconquered frontier in the Star Wars universe. At least, until now.
At Star Wars Celebration 2019, showrunner and creator Jon Favreau repeatedly emphasized that The Mandalorian will be one giant love letter to the original Star Wars trilogy, and that tribute extends behind the scenes as well. Favreau wants to make sure The Mandalorian feels like our first visit to that galaxy far, far away. Naturally, green screens and CGI are necessary to deliver The Mandalorian on a TV budget, but Favreau says that the crew is also using puppets, animatronics, and special effects makeup wherever possible.
For example, while the dogfights in the modern Star Wars films are mostly computer generated, Favreau really wanted to make a model of the Razor Crest to use during production. Well, Industrial Light & Magic’s art staff were so excited about the idea that they didn’t just make a model. Unprompted, they went home and built a camera rig in their garages, recreating the hardware that was used to make Star Wars back in 1977. The end result looks just like classic Star Wars films.
ILM’s staff aren’t the only Star Wars fans who got in on The Mandalorian action, either. The show’s producers reached out to the 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars fans who make their own, highly detailed stormtrooper outfits. Lucasfilm has teamed with the 501st before for promotional events, but The Mandalorian marks the first time that the 501st has appeared onscreen in an official Star Wars production.
All of Star Wars owes a huge debt to George Lucas after all, he created the thing. But The Mandalorian has some specific ties to Star Wars’ maker. For one, the show is heavily inspired by the first Star Wars movie, especially the opening act and the cantina scene.