Star Wars Cinema: 5 Films that Influenced The Mandalorian

You don’t need to be a film scholar to recognize that The Mandalorian draws heavily from classic Westerns and samurai films in crafting its stories, characters, and world. It’s a show that wears its influences on its sleeve, even more so than other entries in the Star Wars universe.

Mando™ is the latest incarnation of a rich cinematic tradition, that of the archetypical drifter. He has everyone from Clint Eastwood’s The Man With No Name to Toshiro Mifune’s Sanjuro in his DNA. And while his story thus far has been far from simple homage or pastiche, there are a number of episodes that draw very directly from the classic films that have inspired the directors and writers behind each new chapter of the hit Star Wars series.

For a Few Dollars More

Legendary director Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy introduced the world to Clint Eastwood’s The Man With No Name, the single most iconic cowboy in the history of cinema. It’s impossible to quantify the extent to which The Mandalorian owes a debt to these works. Their influence on the show stretches far beyond a single episode or visual cue.

However, if there’s a single film that can be pointed to as having the most significant influence on any given storyline it’s the second in the Western series, For A Few Dollars More. The film sees The Man With No Name reluctantly join forces with another bounty hunter — an idea that The Mandalorian has now drawn on twice. In the show’s first season it was our interstellar drifter and the bounty hunter droid IG-11™, which culminated in the show’s unforgettable season 1 finale when IG-11 sacrificed himself to save Mando and the Child.

In season 2, the show wowed audiences with the return of the legendary Boba Fett™, who aligned himself with Mando in the interest of repaying what he sees as a debt. Together, the two make for a killer team, but make no mistake: Fett’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer shouldn’t be underestimated. Above all else, he looks out for himself first.

Seven Samurai

There’s no episode that has paid more direct homage to a film than “Chapter 4: Sanctuary.’” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, it’s a relatively straightforward translation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai. While the episode sees a team of two in Mando and Cara Dune™ join forces to protect a town under siege from bandits, Kurosawa’s epic (often called one of the greatest films ever made) sees seven disparate samurai come together to do the same. The difference? One has a happier ending than the other — we’ll leave it to you to find out which that is.

Lone Wolf and Cub

First published in 1970, Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub is one of the more monumentally influential comics ever made. Running for nearly 30 volumes and having been adapted into six films, its influence has reached everything from the work of Frank Miller to Wu-Tang Clan. It’s also one of the key texts that has served to inspire The Mandalorian.

There’s no single film or story that can be pointed to as the key text for the Star Wars show. However, in Lone Wolf and Cub, the concept at large provides the strongest connection: a father, Ogami Itto, serves as the Shogun’s executioner. When a rival clan kills his wife and household as retribution, he’s forced to go on the run with his infant son Daigoro. Sound familiar? It’s the primary inspiration for the premise of The Mandalorian.


“Chapter Five: The Gunslinger” invokes a broad archetype of the Western genre in Mando coming across a hot-headed (but somewhat feckless) up-and-comer bounty hunter named Toro Calican™. It calls to mind a time-honored tradition of the genre, that of the older gunslinger reluctantly teaming up with the young, hungry one. It’s hard to point to a single film the episode pays homage to as it’s a story touched on by countless entries in the genre. However, it does specifically call to mind one of the subplots of the 1992 masterpiece Unforgiven.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven serves as the long-tenured icon of the Western attempting to tie the bow on his career in the field. An old gunslinger is drawn out of retirement by a scrappy, obnoxious upstart calling himself the Schofield Kid. Throughout the film they butt heads, their demeanors in irreversible opposition. It’s a tried-and-true dynamic, one that plays out well in Mando and Calican’s tepid partnership as well.

Princess Mononoke

This one has far more to do with visual language than plot itself (though the plot of the episode drawing from it certainly isn’t devoid of echoes). “Chapter 13: The Jedi” is a strong contender for the best episode of the show, introducing viewers to the first ever live-action portrayal of fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano™.

The plot of the episode sees Mando stumble into the middle of a conflict between Ahsoka and a local Imperial Magistrate in his search for answers. Rather than Mando, the story applies far more focus to the feud between Ahsoka and the Magistrate, who is revealed to have ties to a notorious Star Wars villain.

The plot itself draws faintly from the plot of Hayao Miyazaki’s blockbuster epic Princess Mononoke, but it’s the visuals of the episode that provide the more direct homage. There are frames throughout the story’s third act that directly mirror shots in Princess Mononoke, especially during the duel between Ahsoka and the Magistrate. It’s a far subtler tribute than those utilized by previous episodes of the show but hey, a little subtlety never hurt.

Plus, it’s a great reminder that Star Wars is told through a visual medium — sometimes you don’t have to spell out your influences through plot and character interactions. Sometimes a perfectly framed tribute to an animated masterpiece is more than enough to get your message across.

What other film homages have you spotted in The Mandalorian? Share with other fans at, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!

If you’re looking to bring in a bounty on Star Wars collectibles, be sure to browse all The Mandalorian collectibles Sideshow has to offer.