Here's everything you need to know about 'The Mandalorian'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

The Skywalker Saga may be coming to an end with the impending release of The Rise of Skywalker, but the launch of The Mandalorian heralds a new beginning for the Star Wars franchise. Premiering on Nov. 12 as the flagship offering of Walt Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, the Jon Favreau-produced series is the first entry in several planned Star Wars live-action TV offerings, which will also include an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor and a Rogue One prequel based around Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Unlike the Star Wars TV tie-ins a previous generation grew up on — think cartoons like Droids and Ewoks and TV movies like The Battle for Endor — these Disney+ shows will be part of official galactic continuity. The events of The Mandalorian, for example, will unfold in the period between the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi and the rise of the First Order in The Force Awakens. Confused? Don’t worry — we’re here to tell you everything you need to know before the first episode drops on Nov. 12.

The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter, but he’s not Boba Fett

Pedro Pascal takes cover from some heavy firepower in the new Disney+ 'Star Wars' series 'The Mandalorian' (Photo: François Duhamel/Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Don’t let the helmet confuse you: Pascal’s unnamed Mandalorian isn’t the second coming of Boba Fett, who — as far as we know — is still in the belly of Tatooine’s resident Sarlacc monster. But he is in the same line of work as Han Solo’s old nemesis: bounty hunting. As you might imagine, that particular profession is in demand in the post-Empire landscape, as the Rebellion lays down its weapons and picks up the tools to build a New Republic. This Mandalorian’s current employer is Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), a head honcho with the Bounty Hunters Guild who needs to keep tabs on an important asset. The identity of that asset may be the major Star Wars-universe spoiler that’s supposedly going to be revealed in the first episode. Place your bets now: is Boba coming back for real?

This is a Western in Star Wars armor

Pedro Pascal stars in 'The Mandalorian' (Photo: François Duhamel/Lucasfilm)

Science fiction and Westerns are two genres that go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and The Mandalorian is clearly leaning into an Old West version of the far, far away galaxy. The action will take place on the frontier, so to speak, visiting far-flung planets that don’t yet answer to the New Republic’s rules. Pascal has also compared his character to Clint Eastwood, star of some of the best big-screen Westerns ever made. Meanwhile, Favreau has said that he was equally inspired by post-apocalyptic Westerns like Mad Max, which is is reflected in an early shot in the show’s first trailer where the Mandalorian strides past a collection of Stormtrooper helmets impaled on spikes.

The Old West-meets-Mad Max aesthetic of 'The Mandalorian' is on display in this scene from one of the earliest trailers. (Photo: Walt Disney/Lucasfilm/YouTube)

It’s in this lawless frontier that he encounters another hard-living gunslinger: Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who fought on the side of the Rebels during the recently-concluded war and is now trying to get by as a mercenary.

You’ll see some unexpected faces

Celebrated director Werner Herzog has a key role in 'The Mandalorian' (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm/YouTube)

This is not a drill: Werner Herzog has joined the Star Wars universe. The celebrated German auteur behind movies like Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man is one step closer to being immortalized as an action figure thanks to his Mandalorian role as a mysterious client in need of Pascal’s services. Herzog is just one of the delightful casting surprises Favreau will spring on viewers. The series also features Giancarlo Esposito as ex-Imperial governor, Moff Gideon; Nick Nolte as the scavenger Kuiil; Ming-Na Wen as the assassin Fennec Shand; and Taika Waititi (who also directs one of the eight episodes) as the voice of the requisite droid, IG-11. Wonder how he and Korg would get along?

Keep the lava river on your right

According to Weathers, one of these out of the way planets will be home to a lava river that the characters have to navigate without being burnt to a crisp. “The technology is so good ... you actually feel like you’re moving,” the actor marveled when we spoke with him at D23 in August. “It’s phenomenal how tricks your senses. The reality of these sets was beyond anything I could have imagined.” Hopefully, this trip down a lava river has a happier ending for Greef than it did for Anakin.

Klatooine’s Kalling

Gina Carano and Pedro Pascal check out all the 'Mandalorian' toys that will be on sale on Triple Force Friday (Photo: Lisa Rose/Lucasfilm)

Another destination for the Mandalorian and Cara will be the planet of Klatooine; at least, that’s according to some Triple Force Friday toys, which feature a pair of raiders from that arid planet, as well as an Imperial AT-ST that’s sporting a fresh coat of warpaint. Once upon a time, Klatooine was under the control of the Hutts, although the death of Jabba in Return of the Jedi has probably complicated the planet’s leadership structure a bit. We’ll soon see which giant slug-like alien rushed in to fill Jabba’s considerable void.

The Vintage Collection AT-ST Raider (Photo: Hasbro)

The Mandalorian has got a sweet ride

Move over, Millennium Falcon: there’s a new starship in town. The Mandalorian will planet hop aboard his signature gunship, the Razor Crest, which features double engines, lots of firepower and plenty of storage for the carbo-frozen bodies of his targets. The Razor Crest was first unveiled to the public at Star Wars Celebration in the spring, where Yahoo Entertainment also learned that Esposito’s character will get to pilot a TIE Fighter at some point during the course of the show. Jealous yet, Bryan Cranston?

The Mandalorian premieres on Disney+ on Nov. 12.

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