The Mandalorian Is a Return to Classic Star Wars

By Melody McCune

The Mandalorian might have surpassed the Star Wars sequels in popularity, and with a closer look, this comes as no surprise. The original Star Wars films are untouchable, and it seems there was a decline in quality/interest with each new trilogy. This isn’t me crapping on the prequels — I actually enjoyed them. However, based on the general public consensus, it’s clear that quite a few folks didn’t enjoy the latest batch of flicks.

The Mandalorian is a return to vintage-era Star Wars. It feels like reuniting with an old friend. Here are a handful of reasons as to why this might be.

 The Story Is Original

The Force Awakens™ feels like a rehash of A New Hope™, just as The Last Jedi™ gives off The Empire Strikes Back™ vibes, and so on and so forth. For starters, there are three main characters at the helm of the Resistance: Luke Skywalker™, Princess Leia™, and Han Solo™ in the original trilogy and Rey™, Finn™, and Poe™ in the sequels. Additionally, the antagonist of the most recent films, Kylo Ren™, is essentially the Darth Vader™ of the newest franchise. A “good guy” gone astray.

Even the story is similar. A group of underdogs rallying against a tyrannical and imperialist government. Essentially, the Powers That Be were banking on nostalgia to reel in fans of the original flicks. However, by making these movies carbon copies of something else, they were doing a disservice to the characters (namely Finn, Poe, and Rose).

On the other hand, The Mandalorian poses an original story. It doesn’t rely on an already hashed-out narrative. Instead, it trusts its viewers to willingly dive into something new.

The Dark Side Isn’t as Prevalent

This show isn’t primarily about light versus dark, good versus evil. It’s not a super hero story. Din Djarin™, AKA Mando, isn’t exactly a good guy. Nor is he a baddie. He’s a convoluted mix of gray — someone who’s just trying to live his life. Yes, the dark side rears its head with Moff Gideon™, but his objective isn’t incessantly shoved down our throats. Life isn’t always black and white, which is part of what makes The Mandalorian so interesting. There’s a bevy of morally questionable characters that exist in this series, just like the real world.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the dark side to take a backseat from time to time. Yes, Mando encounters his fair share of life-threatening scenarios involving Gideon, but it’s nice to see some regular, non-Force-sensitive folks for a change. Those just trying to go through their day-to-day without the threat of death hanging over their heads. Or at least it’s not always explicitly stated.

There’s No Allegory Hidden in the Narrative

Not everything we watch has to boast a valuable lesson. Of course, that’s not to say that allegorical stories aren’t vital and they can’t be entertaining. But sometimes we just want to be entertained. To escape. The Mandalorian provides a hefty dose of escapism without a real “moral” to the story, save a touching bond between a bounty hunter and an adorable alien creature.

It’s just a man trying to deliver an alien (and son, in my mind) to his people. Simple as that. It’s not part of fulfilling a prophecy or some greater purpose. And that’s okay.

Not only that, but The Mandalorian introduces us to new creatures and landscapes while also bringing in established characters from the Star Wars canon, like Ahsoka Tano™, Bo-Katan Kryze™, and Boba Fett™. There’s even an appearance from the Luke Skywalker himself. These connections not only bind this show to other Star Wars properties, but it’s a great way to keep fans invested.

It Shows the Unsavory Parts of the Galaxy

Give me the seedy galactic underbelly! Give me Werner Herzog! Show me all the shady dealings! Again, this lends itself to the “everyday folks” vibe that The Mandalorian emanates. It’s not always princesses and chosen ones. I think the Star Wars sequel trilogy could’ve gone that route if they didn’t reveal Rey as Palpatine’s™ granddaughter and thus the most powerful Jedi™ out there.

There’s just something more appealing about watching scrappy, normal people with the odds out of their favor working the grind. Granted, Mando is an immensely skilled fighter and bounty hunter, but his desire to do his job and only get involved when absolutely necessary is what injects him with that realism. Along with the escapism, of course.

I enjoy the unsavory parts — to me, those are more interesting than watching pristine Mary Sues sanctimoniously working toward the “greater good.”

The Cinematography Looks Grittier

I’m a sucker for fantastic cinematography. It can contribute so much to the overall feel of a story. Fantastic cinematography can transport you to different worlds. The Mandalorian excels at this. It has a grittier feel than the sequel flicks. The grittiness lends itself to the spaghetti Western aura of the original trilogy. Whereas the last of the Skywalker films have this glossy, shiny look to them, The Mandalorian ditches that for a darker tone.

Perhaps it’s supposed to emulate those that are on the fringes of higher society. Most likely it’s the spaghetti Western thing. Regardless, the cinematography works. It’s immersive. I feel like I’m about to square off against Moff Gideon at high noon on Nevarro™. We’ll throw in Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth™ for good measure.

Overall, The Mandalorian is firing on all cylinders, and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us for season 3. Why do you feel The Mandalorian is a return to old-school Star Wars?

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