The Mandalorian executive producer and writer-director Dave Filoni explains how the Jon Favreau-created series centered on an armored bounty hunter forged its own identity outside of Boba Fett, a masked and mysterious character of similar appearance from the Star Wars galaxy. Disney-owned Lucasfilm jettisoned plans for a Boba Fett film when Solo: A Star Wars Story — about a young Han Solo, who is eventually hunted by Fett in saga episode The Empire Strikes Back — failed to launch at the box office, causing the studio to similarly reconfigure its Obi-Wan Kenobi movie into a television series for its blossoming streaming service Disney+. There Favreau would pitch a Western tinged take on a Fett-inspired character who became Pedro Pascal's Din Djarin, the Mandalorian:
Appearing on Deadline’s virtual Contenders Television event, Filoni said there "wasn't really any crossover with any previous development," referring to the Boba Fett standalone movie. Instead, The Mandalorian idea "really starts with Jon Favreau coming forward saying he'd like to develop a concept and talking with [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy about it."
"She knew I had done a lot of work with Mandalorian people and culture on Clone Wars with George over the years. She always knew that I knew Jon," Filoni continued. "She called me in when Jon pitched this idea, and he really loved the imagery of a lone gunman and Western. When we were kids, Boba Fett was a 'Man With No Name.' Even his publicity stills were evocative of the [Sergio Leone] Dollar trilogy."
Because Lucas unmasked Fett's backstory in prequel trilogy installment Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones — where a young Fett was revealed to be the cloned son of Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), an infamous bounty hunter clad in silver armor — "some of his mystique had been taken away," Filoni admitted. "Jon's idea was to re-imagine that character as a straight-on bounty hunter and take that imagery of the lone gunfighter. The revelation was this idea of this child in a lone wolf cub sensibility."
The first episode of The Mandalorian would go on to end with Djarin discovering a highly valuable asset — The Child, a 50-year-old, Force-sensitive foundling best known out-of-universe as Baby Yoda — who would be cared for by Djarin, himself orphaned as a child.
The relationship between the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda has since been identified by Season 1 finale director Taika Waititi as the key to the audience's own relationship with Djarin, whose true face is not seen until the eighth and final episode of the first season.
After Fett was seemingly inadvertently killed by a temporarily blind Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Favreau and company look to redeem the character in The Mandalorian Season 2. Lucasfilm hinted at Fett's survival some five years earlier in a canon tie-in novel involving a character suspected to appear in the sophomore season, releasing this fall on Disney+.