Star Wars The Mandalorian has been a smashing success. After watching the first three available episodes, this author has had a fantastic time and enjoyed the episodes mightily. There is only one “complaint” I'd make - each episode needs to be longer. Selfishly, I’d prefer each episode to be closer to the usual 50 to 60 minutes in length of most streamed dramatic television-styled episodes. Under the partnership of Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, this is only the second Star Wars live action adventure that consistently evokes the emotions I felt as a kid while watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Only Rogue One: A Star Wars Story pulled this off for me. Sure, there were a few isolated moments during the Prequels that reached those classic high levels and even fewer during the Sequels rose to the standard set by the first two Star Wars movies.
The Mandalorian has managed to replicate the gritty feel of the Star Wars universe. It’s not hard to imagine oneself in a small outpost on the edge of known space like this one. It’s not hard to imagine the individuals inhabiting this backwater world being forged by a hard life into formidable characters that would make any of us decide to step aside if we were to encounter them on the streets of any universe. Beyond this, the Mandalorian himself is tough enough to even intimidate these folks who would terrify most anyone else.
Filoni and Favreau have truly channeled the vision of a young George Lucas. They have created both a character and a story that actually builds upon the Star Wars mythology George Lucas set into motion in 1977. These characters feel real. Their actions make sense. As an added benefit, Filoni and Favreau have provided me with an idea as to how the Star Wars cinematic universe could move forward in a way that would be both profitable for Disney and a joy for Star Wars fans.
The way to make Star Wars both even more profitable and rekindle the joy of the fans of the franchise is to copy the leadership structure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Star Wars needs the right person to run the operation. Star Wars needs someone to be the Kevin Feige of Star Wars. Feige has been the President of Marvel Studios since 2007. Through force of will - or just his ability to collaborate with other gifted Hollywood talent - Feige has built the most successful movie franchise of all time. He has an instinctive ability to not only understand the comic book source material but he recognizes what makes this material great. Feige couples this skill with an even more valuable trait – the vision to understand how to pick and choose which elements of the comic books can be dropped into movies and these choices translate to excellent movies. Star Wars doesn’t appear to have one person who could fill Kevin Feige’s metaphorical shoes for their universe. They may have two talented individuals who could do it. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau are those two individuals. Let’s onboard these two men and reverse the fortunes of the Star Wars franchise.
What the Solution Looks Like
Originally, when Disney bought Lucasfilm, the plans were to have trilogy-based Star Wars universe movies every other year (released in years ending in odd numbers) and stand-alone movies (released in years ending in even numbers). When plans aren’t executed well, you need to double check the plan and if it’s deemed a solid plan, get different people in place to execute the plan. That’s what I propose doing. This was a good plan. The plan simply wasn’t executed well. Star Wars has a fan base that will easily support one movie a year to be released - as long as it's a good movie. Stick with a good plan, but elevate the quality of the movies released. By putting Filoni and Favreau in charge, Star Wars has the right people to turn that plan into a successful reality.
Based on his work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Filoni appears to be a great fit for the trilogy based movies. Both of these animated series had ties to the two earlier movie trilogies. He has an understanding of the look and feel of the original series. This ability to replicate the feel of Lucas’ Star Wars universe will lend an authenticity to any future Star Wars efforts.
It’s critical to allow Filoni to decide what time period he wants to focus on for the next trilogy. There are plenty of options (okay, that is clearly an understatement). One could go with the days of the ancient Old Republic and its symbiotic relationship with the Jedi. One could narrow the focus further to an Old Republic era highlighted by Sith Wars raging across the galaxy. No one would argue with a trilogy set in timeframe of the early New Republic. A riskier path could be to move the series into the far flung future. Like Feige, Filoni could use the huge library of Star Wars novels and Star Wars comic books as inspiration for a trilogy. There exists a wealth of material to mine for inspiration.
When it comes to directors, Filoni could chose to direct a movie himself, or he could look outside the Star Wars universe for directors. Peter Jackson has made some fantastic trilogies, maybe Disney could lure him away from Middle Earth. He could recruit the Russo brothers from Avengers fame. Or, Filoni could stay in universe for Gareth Edwards, who did a wonderful job on Rogue One. The option to direct a revitalized Star Wars trilogy would be hugely tempting for any number of talented directors.
Under Filoni, the trilogy-based movies would be in a great place.
Favreau has the resume to do anything he wants in the movie industry. With his work on Iron Man, he can legitimately be called a pioneer of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He would be the perfect candidate to lead the stand-alone movies. These movies could feature an individual from the established films that has demand for more exposure due to their overwhelming popularity. There are several characters that come to mind with little to no effort. Movies featuring Darth Vader hunting remaining Jedi after the Empire was established would be fantastic. Yoda is a 900-year old character who has an almost infinite number of stories that could be told about his exploits. Boba Fett and Jango Fett have huge followings. Particular characters from Star Wars books like Darth Bane, Revan, or Grand Admiral Thrawn all have fantastic stories to tell. Some, like Vader are also very cost friendly characters. Vader wears a costume and a helmet with a face mask, so it’s more about the size of an actor versus any particular actor portraying him. Additionally, James Earl Jones is a voice -only actor in this role, so he’s much less expensive than hiring someone famous to play Vader. Darth Vader might be the most famous character around the world, but he comes without the need for paying an actor $20 million plus to portray such a popular character. You could literally make a different Vader story every four to six years, make billions of dollars, and make the fans happy. It’s all right there, one just has to do it well.
Favreau could also engage the best directors to do these stand-alone movies. Think of a Boba Fett movie helmed by Martin Scorsese. That would excite fans to no end. Favreau helming a Han Solo movie would be really entertaining, and again, fans would love it. Christopher Nolan directing a Grand Admiral Thrawn movie would be really intriguing to view and it would sell a ton of tickets. The Duffer Brothers spearheading a Yoda film or even a crazy evil Darth Nihilus film would be huge at the box office. Any one of those movies would really be a treat for fans. What would it be like to have four or five in a row? Marvel’s Feige would have a fight for number one on his hands. Favreau has been in Hollywood for years and he probably would have a very good feel for what directors would work well with the characters and stories that Star Wars would like to tell. The studio would just have to empower him and get out of his way.
Under Favreau, the stand-alone movies would be in a great place.
Now someone at Disney just has to make these two men an offer that they can’t refuse…