George Lucas may not have any creative control over the Star Wars franchise any longer having sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, but that doesn’t stop the filmmakers involved in its future from tapping him up for guidance.
Since 2012, Disney has delivered four films (The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Solo), and a number of animated TV spin-offs, but next off the production line is The Mandalorian, a live action series which debuts on Disney+ later this year.
Its writer and creator Jon Favreau says he went straight to the source to ensure his 8-part series, set after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, remained true to the heart and spirit of Lucas’ original vision.
“We had a long talk with each other,” Favreau told GQ Middle East while promoting his new film The Lion King. “One thing [George Lucas] said to me was, ’remember, Jon, the real audience for all stories and all myths is the kids that are coming of age’, because he’s really a Joseph Campbell adherent.”
Campbell was a renowned literary mythologist, who Lucas would later call “my Yoda” when they became friends later in life. The Star Wars creator openly credits Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces with its theory of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ playing heavily into his filmmaking.
“We enjoy the stories as adults, but really, storytelling is about imparting the wisdom of the previous generations on to the children who are becoming adults, and giving them a context for how to behave and how to learn the lessons of the past without making the mistakes on their own,” adds Favreau.
“That’s the hope, that you can teach them how to avoid all the hardship but garner all the wisdom.”
Little is known about the plot of The Mandalorian so far - starring Pedro Pascal in the title role - but Favreau has previously stated that it will explore the dark underbelly of the Star Wars universe following the fall of Emperor Palpatine.
“It’s after Return of the Jedi, so the Empire is gone and all hell is breaking loose in the Outer Rim. And it’s about the scum and villainy, that once you take out the rule of law, what happens? Chaos takes over and you have all of these unseemly characters,” he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Nearly all of the filmmakers entrusted with Star Wars on screen since its sale to Disney have turned to Lucas for counsel.
Rey’s relationship with Luke Skywalker in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi came from Lucas’ original concept for Episode’s VII-IX, while The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams says the concluding chapter of the Skywalker saga will address ideas that came from conversations with Lucas.
Lucas gave notes to Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard when he paid the set a visit, and he jokingly asked Rogue One director Gareth Edwards to not “screw it up” when he visited the shoot.
Favreau went on to say that he applied Lucas’ advice to making the “live action” The Lion King.
“I think a film like The Lion King is really the purest form of storytelling in that you are dealing with the biggest themes that we deal with as humans – about loss, about each generation replacing the previous one, about living a life of responsibility and stepping up when you are called upon in the face of tremendous suffering that life presents to you, especially in a world like the animal kingdom.
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“That is a glorious story. Even though there is tremendous suffering, it is a net gain. If you live your life in harmony with the world around you, and you go on the spiritual journey that all these great myths discuss, there is something transformative and uplifting about it.
“That’s the monomyth and that’s the hero’s journey, and ultimately the reward for a life well-lived.”
The Mandalorian will launch on Disney+ later this year.
The launch of the service has now been confirmed for 12 November 12 in the U.S., with the price set at $6.99 per month or $69.99 for a year, though there’s no UK price confirmed as yet.
Disney UK has confirmed to Yahoo that it plans to launch Disney+ in Western Europe some time between October 2019 and March 2020. The slate of content coming to Disney+ in the U.K. and Europe is likely to be similar to the one announced by Disney but a spokesperson said the launch date, content slate, and pricing was still to be confirmed.