Recently we heard from Freddie Prinze Jr. about who Star Wars is made for. In his expletive-filled rant, he says Star Wars is made for kids. We also have George’s famous “Star Wars is for twelve-year-olds” speech that bolsters the creation of Jar-Jar. Now Jon Favreau, the creative mind behind The Mandalorian, has joined the fray with his thoughts on who his Star Wars audience is in an interview at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit.
A Possible Mandalorian Man-Baby Meltdown
Last week, Favreau shared the stage with Disney CEO Bob Iger for an interview with Vanity Fair’s Editor-in-Chief Rahdika Jones. Upon reading the cited piece from CNN about this interview, my first thought was “Oh no, no, no, no. If Jon Favreau says The Mandalorian was made for 12-year-olds to honor George Lucas’s wishes, I’ll have a man-baby meltdown.” And I almost did.
In effort to be a good column writer, I went out and found the full Vanity Fair interview to see what he said for myself. It wasn’t hard to find, and it paints a different picture than what the CNN article headline of “Jon Favreau isn’t just making Star Wars for the nostalgic” conveys.
Watch the full Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit interview here.
Hearing what he said restored my hope, that even with George Lucas’s influence, The Mandalorian will be a show all fans will enjoy. Here’s what Jon had to say when asked about the pressures of stepping into the creative role on a Star Wars project under the shadow of George Lucas and Disney:
“I don’t feel the pressure except to the audience that’s seeing what I’m making and I feel that pressure every time. I think—much like the chefs I learned from when I was training to play that role—there’s a certain stripe of personality that are attracted to telling stories, which is you want to do something, but the experience isn’t complete until the people that eat the meal/watch the show/watch the movie, reacts to it.”
And rest assured Jon… the fickle fandom of Star Wars will most definitely react. However, his next phrase—in my opinion—is the one that’s more meaningful:
“In the case of Star Wars, I grew up with that. I don’t think I would have been a filmmaker if were not for that film.”
Can a Star Wars fan get an amen?
A Star Wars Creator needs to be a Fan First
…and it would seem Favreau is definitely fits that bill. He said George visited the set of The Mandalorian and the two had some conversations about George’s vision of who the Star Wars audience should be:
“[With] Star Wars, part of that responsibility is remembering that part of your audience is a whole generation that’s coming of age. Through stories, we express our values to the next generation. And so one of the things he said was not to lose sight that is the main audience for stories.”
That quote made me a little nervous that Gungans might show up in The Mandalorian. It did give me some perspective on George’s “12-year-old” comment though. Kids are watching these films. There are lessons to be learned and values to be shaped. However, I do not feel Favreau is going to jettison the adult fandom to teach a preteen viewer the difference between right and wrong. The reason is because he respects the concept of a pre-existing legacy.
The Legacy of Star Wars
Later in the interview, he goes on to talk about how you have to be careful with legacy projects and icons, such as how his treatment of Iron Man for Marvel already had 40+ years of fandom before the movie. Star Wars is no different.
“We also feel there is a responsibility for products that existed pre-dating us, so you’re dealing with legacies. How can we do something that’s relevant, that’s new, that’s contributing to that legacy and not something that’s repeating it.”
If only Rian Johnson had felt the same way, perhaps The Last Jedi would have been an entirely different film. Again, The Last Jedi was not a bad film in a larger sense. It was a wasted opportunity to further this 40-year-old story. Favreau knows this. He’s not going to squander his chance to make a product he is passionate about, not only from behind the camera, but also on the screen in front of him. He’s a fan.
“I think that’s the tension that exists when you’re dealing with an existing audience that’s very passionate and connected to it, often times more so that the people who are making that film. You have to really put the audience on that pedestal and try to give them something that delights them.”
So to answer the question on who the audience will be for Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian? The audience is Star Wars fans, period. Old, young, doesn’t matter. Thank you, Jon. The fandom is ready for that pedestal.
The Mandalorian debuts November 12th on Disney Plus. Subscriptions are available now. Season 2 began filming this week, so be ready for some kind of cliffhanger ending! And don’t forget to check back with That Hashtag Show for all your Star Wars news and commentary!