The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger says Disney backed The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series and among the earliest original programming to premiere on the Disney+ streaming service, because series creator Jon Favreau is a strong storyteller with the ability to tell stories with innovative technology — a skill set reminiscent of Star Wars visionary George Lucas. Following the model set by another visionary, founder Walt Disney, Iger believes the company should embrace technology for two primary reasons — both core values fulfilled by Disney+ and premiere series The Mandalorian:
"One, use it to make the product and the stories that you tell more compelling to the audience. I can't think of a better example of someone who did that than George Lucas, for instance, using technology to tell a better story," Iger told The Star Wars Show. "And that's obviously what we saw in 1977, when we got to see the first Star Wars film. The second was, let's use technology to distribute our content to people in not only more effective ways, but more compelling ways for them, more satisfying ways for them. I think Disney+ speaks great volumes about both of those."
The series, centered on the titular armored bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) acting as the chief protector of a highly-valuable asset — The Child, nicknamed "Baby Yoda" by a fawning audience — is "obviously a great example of that."
Asked why Disney launched its direct-to-consumer streaming service with the premiere episode of The Mandalorian, Iger said Disney has "great faith" in Favreau, director of Disney-owned Marvel Studios' Iron Man and Iron Man 2 as well as Walt Disney Pictures' blockbuster re-imaginings of The Jungle Book and The Lion King.
"First of all, we have great faith in Jon. Both as a storyteller, but also as a storyteller like George that knows how to use technology for the good of his stories, and the good of the audience that will ultimately hear or see the stories," Iger said. "We had seen that in Jungle Book, which he remade for us, which I thought was brilliant in so many different ways. We certainly saw that in Lion King, which was breakthrough in many ways."
He continued, "And so when Jon pitched the idea of a Star Wars series, we immediately understood not only did we have a great storyteller, but we had a storyteller that was going to continue to write new rules of sorts or mine new territory in terms of how he was going to use technology to tell great stories that felt fresh, that felt important, that felt big, that took people to new places and created new experiences, and so it was a very easy decision for us to make."
Other pluses, Iger added, included the involvement of Dave Filoni — a producer and writer-director on Mandalorian best known for fan-favorite animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels — as well as its concept and use of technology. With the arrival of Disney+, everything "just kind of fit together," Iger said.
Following the arrival of The Mandalorian — already in production on its second season — and the conclusion of Lucas' original saga with the just-released Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Iger believes Disney is "just getting started" with Star Wars.
The season finale of The Mandalorian releases Dec. 27 on Disney+. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.