In the more than 40 years since the Star Wars franchise launched, arguably the most frightening sequence seen in the saga was in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, which featured the titular bounty hunter coming under attack by massive ice spiders. The saga is no stranger to showcasing bizarre creatures, but between the limitations of practical effects in the original trilogy and the emphasis on adventure over horror meant that the sequence took most viewers by surprise, becoming one of the biggest talking points since "The Passenger" episode debuted. Image Engine VFX recently released the above featurette to break down how the sequence came to life.
Despite the shock experienced by many viewers, their appearance was one of many references the live-action series has made to obscure corners of the franchise. These ice spiders were first imagined by iconic concept artist Ralph McQuarrie ahead of the release of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, with the beings initially being considered for a debut on Hoth.
While initially conceived for that film, they would go on to appear in the 1995 Darksaber novel by Kevin J. Anderson, though the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012 resulted in those books being relegated to the "Legends" corner of the franchise, making them no longer canonical. Years later, the spiders would be utilized by the animated Star Wars Rebels.
In addition to the ice spider sequence, the VFX studio also handled the epic conflict between Din Djarin, Fennec Shand, and Boba Fett against a squadron of stormtroopers. Despite how impressive this finished sequence looked, director of that scene, Robert Rodriguez, initially staged the stunts through the use of Star Wars toys.
"I ended up turning a three-page battle scene into a nine-minute battle scene because I was just that excited to be bringing Boba back," Rodriguez says in Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian. "I told [series creator Jon Favreau]: 'I've been waiting to see this version of Boba Fett since I was a kid. Boba has to be different, he can't just seem like another Mando. He has to move differently; feel different; occupy a completely different space; and have a weight and gravitas to him that shows why he's such a legend.'"
Rodriguez added, "I wanted him to live up to his name that we would whisper since we were kids [and] be that mysterious character with a past that makes you want to know more about him. If Mando is a gunslinger, then Boba needs to be a barbarian."
He ended up using his sons and their toys to stage the scene because he "didn't have anything else on hand."
Season 3 of The Mandalorian is slated to debut on Disney+ later this year.