Star Wars Is Better When The Jedi Are Just Cameo Characters

Star Wars: The Mandalorian has been a huge success for the franchise, right up to the show-stopping season 2 finale. There's been a lot of analysis regarding why The Mandalorian is so successful at bringing Star Wars to a mainstream audience the movies and animated series couldn't reach. One theory we'd like to offer: The Mandalorian makes the case for why Star Wars is better when the Jedi are just cameo characters, rather than the main focus of the franchise. Not that the Jedi are in danger of going anywhere soon (a lot of new Jedi arrive next week with Star Wars: The High Republic), but here's why the franchise should lean more into non-Jedi POV:

The Star Wars movie played with the idea of taking on new perspectives in the universe during the mid-to-late 2010s, with the release of the Star Wars standalone films, Rogue One and Solo. To be fair, those films had clear stumbles in earning the confidence of both fans and the studio that Star Wars could succeed without lightsabers - which is why Rogue One made sure to include that now-infamous Darth Vader hallway fight scene.

Rian Johnson pushed the issue with The Last Jedi, by taking the rare step of opening a Skywalker Saga film from the perspective of Resistance soldiers fighting in the war while conveying a larger theme that the franchise was about more the legacy of the Skywalker name. Johnson paid the price for that paradigm shift with harsh backlash but arguably cleared the stage for The Mandalorian to offer Star Wars fans a truly new kind of story, from a new kind of Star Wars warrior.

The Mandalorian season 2 finally struck the perfect balance the franchise needed. It told a seasonal storyline that saw many iconic (non-Jedi) warriors from the Star Wars franchise join forces, as Mando (Din Djarin) crossed paths with Bo-Katan Kryze, Boba Fett, and old friends like Cara Dune and Grief Carga, while even making new allies of old foes like Fennec Shand and Mayfeld. While these characters each earned their way into fans' hearts, what hit different in The Mandalorian was seeing battles where the stakes felt real, as stormtroopers and droids (the Dark Troopers) posed very real threats to fighters that weren't powerful Force users.

Why Star Wars Is Better When Jedi Are Cameo Characters

Even better, by taking the perspective of non-Force users fighting against the Empire, The Mandalorian made a wonderful spectacle out of the moments when Jedi did show up. From the POV of Mando and the warriors he fought with (or even the nefarious and smug Moff Gideon), Jedi like Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker looked like super-powered marvels that bordered on terrifying in their mystical abilities and power. Seeing Luke Skywalker show up and easily defeat foes that Mando and his squad would've been crushed by, made The Jedi look more badass than they have in a long time, while still making non-Force warriors look cool, and threats that formerly seemed silly (Imperial officers, droids) feel very scary.

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So, while Star Wars still has a lot of Jedi stories coming, it's clear that mainstream fans may be more receptive to projects like the Cassian Andor, Rangers of the New Republic, or Book of Boba Fett series - especially if some key Jedi/Sith appearances get sprinkled in.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+, with so many new series on the way. Star Wars: The High Republic begins on January 5th.