Following the relaunch of the franchise with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, it seemed that Star Wars was moving full speed ahead as Disney's first entry into the saga smashed records at the box office and earned praise from critics. Fast forward two years and Star Wars: The Last Jedi flips expectations for the Skywalker Saga's story on its head under the direction of Rian Johnson, as the fan base becomes instantly divided. Some fans loved the entry, including the controversial moments of Luke throwing a lightsaber off of a cliff and the dismissal of Rey's parents being of importance to the story, while others were frustrated with how the second entry into the third trilogy made light of the major questions and moments from its Force Awakens predecessor. Spinoff film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was widely beloved, but Solo: A Star Wars Story was quite the opposite.
Although everyone agrees that Canto Bight sequence in The Last Jedi is not the right direction, the fandom has lamented what the right steps for Star Wars are. Many seem to genuinely believe they know what is best for the franchise based on their own hopes and expectations, and, while hopes and expectations are great and often fuel the fire for a franchise like Marvel or Star Wars, in this case, they have been leading to an unnecessary level of toxicity. Arguments and criticisms run rampant across social media and occasionally during the (ever-so-rare in today's world) face-to-face conversations. Now, an unlikely hero has entered the story to unite fans heading into the final entry of the Skywalker Saga: The Mandalorian.
"The new films under Disney have challenged fans to address what they really want from new experiences," ComicBook.com's Star Wars expert Patrick Cavanaugh said. "While The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story felt too familiar, The Last Jedi was too unconventional. With their love for Star Wars being immensely personal, each fan feels that they know the true answer for what the Star Wars brand should be, decrying anyone whose tastes don't agree with theirs as being objectively wrong."
"What makes The Mandalorian so exciting for fans is that, much like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or the animated Star Wars Rebels, the iconography is familiar, while the worlds and characters are all new," Cavanaugh says. "Fans can recognize elements that they immediately connect with aesthetically, but get to become enamored with a completely fresh story."
Much of the credit is going to Dave Filoni, an executive producer on the popular Rebels series, which is also gaining a new audience thanks to the easy access provided by its availability on Disney+.
Next month, the Skywalker Saga comes to a close with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Whether fans loved or hated The Last Jedi, they are wholly buying back into Star Wars right now and having fun conversations about the franchise online. Perhaps the most interesting part of it all is that The Mandalorian is taking place far before the events of The Rise of Skywalker, without featuring much of a tie to the Skywalker Saga thus far, if any at all. Perhaps this is why fans are able to buy into it so easily, not having such lofty and specific expectations for the story, as the first live-action Star Wars show is in largely uncharted territory which offers up a plethora of room for surprises (many of which have already been delivered) while stringing along the ties to the larger Star Wars lore.
"Various books and comics have explored this specific time period, but we've never truly seen it quite like this," Cavanaugh notes.
It helps that The Mandalorian started with a very good "Chapter 1," only to build on the quality in "Chapter 2," and cement its quality with an action-packed and story-driven "Chapter 3." No need to discuss spoilers here, just in case one person landed on this article without watching what felt like the first film in a Mandalorian trilogy.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that everyone loves the insanely cute "Baby Yoda," the adorable little green bag a mystery truly uniting everyone's opinions.
The argument by fans (or trolls) claiming that "Star Wars is dead," seems to be dead itself. It never had much ground to stand on (with the exception of Solo's box office bombing), but The Mandalorian has brought an overwhelming sense of positivity to the Star Wars fanbase. Of course, The Rise of Skywalker faces the possibility of ending one of the greatest cinematic saga's ever in the vein of either Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, but, until that time, we should enjoy the shared experience of watching and enjoying new episodes of The Mandalorian — and, if you're not, that's fine, too.
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