Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian could be the biggest betrayal of George Lucas' Star Wars vision. The Star Wars franchise is reinventing itself for a new era; the films are on hiatus after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, while live-action TV shows are in the works instead. These are intended to serve as flagship content for Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, and the first of these - The Mandalorian - released on Disney+'s launch day.
Naturally, there's intense speculation about just what George Lucas thinks of this brave new galaxy. Lucas wasn't a fan of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and he damned Star Wars: The Last Jedi with the faintest of praise. But, after a couple of missteps shortly after the Lucasfilm acquisition, he's largely settled for keeping his own counsel. It may be just as well, given Disney CEO Bob Iger recently revealed that there was a non-disparagement clause in the contract Lucas signed when he sold Star Wars over to the House of Mouse.
At first glance, Disney+'s Star Wars content appears to have gone the extra mile in order to make Lucas happy. The versions of the Original Trilogy included on the streaming service are the final, 4K restoration that Lucas conducted before he sold Lucasfilm; and yes, that means more changes to the infamous "Han Shot First" scene. But Lucas may have reason to be a little more displeased with The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian Introduces A Baby Of Yoda's Species
The Mandalorian's titular bounty hunter is hired by a former Imperial to bring in a mark. No image is provided, but he's given a tracker of some kind and told that the being is 50 years old. It doesn't take the Mandalorian long to track his target down, although he and IG-11 have to fight their way past a small army of guardians. That done, they're shocked to discover that the mark is actually a child. As IG-11 observes, every race ages differently, and this creature's species clearly age more slowly than most; it's still an infant at the age of 50, suggesting it could live for centuries.
There's no reason to suppose the Mandalorian knows what he's dealing with, but Star Wars viewers will recognize the species in an instant. This baby is a member of Yoda's race; indeed, given how rarely they've been seen in the canon, it may be the last of its kind. It's a staggering revelation, with profound implications for the Star Wars franchise. It means that, unless Yoda and Yaddle were secretly parents, there were others of Yoda's race wandering the galaxy just years before the Prequel Era. The fact that the child was pursued by Imperials may indicate that all of Yoda's species are Force-sensitives, and its mystery guardians could well be another Force-cult centered around them.
George Lucas Always Blocked Reveals Of Yoda's Species
As exciting as this twist may be, it's hard to imagine it ever happening under George Lucas' watch. Lucas has always been strangely reluctant to talk about Yoda, and in fact until he began work on the Prequel Trilogy he seemed to treat him as a unique being rather than a member of an alien race. In fact, when questioned Lucas once quipped that Yoda was the illegitimate child of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. The early Expanded Universe was actively discouraged from exploring Yoda in any way, with Lucasfilm pulping the entire print run of a trading card depicting a group of Yoda-like beings worshiping an idol.
Things began to change a little after the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, in which Lucas himself introduced a member of Yoda's species. Although Yaddle wasn't exactly a major character, her introduction seemed to encourage Lucas to relax a little, and he allowed a handful of other writers to create new members of Yoda's race. In all three cases, the aliens were powerful Force-sensitives, committed Jedi Masters, and possessed of the traditional Yoda speech patterns. They all existed in the galaxy's distant past, hinting that Yoda and Yaddle may have been the last of their kind. There's been some speculation that Yoda's species are the mysterious beings known as the Whills, but Lucas himself has denied this. As a result, most fan communities have taken to calling them Tridactyls, after the number of toes on their feet.
Did George Lucas Approve Of Star Wars Exploring Yoda's Species?
At first glance, then, The Mandalorian seems to take Star Wars in a direction Lucas would never approve of. And yet, notice the pattern; before the Prequels, Lucas refused permission to explore Yoda's race at all, but he was gradually relaxing those rules prior to Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm. What's more, it's important to remember that Lucas himself visited the set of The Mandalorian while the show was in production. Interestingly, while most viewers were surprised at the glimpse of the Yoda-like baby, there have been unsubstantiated rumors that Yoda's race would appear in this series for quite a while - and these rumors have been linked to Lucas' blessing.
In October, Making Star Wars reported that they'd seen photographs taken during production of The Mandalorian, of five or six Yoda-species puppets in various stages of completion. Their sources claimed that Lucas himself contributed story elements to an episode that featured these mysterious beings - apparently episode six - and that they would finally be named. At this time, this was largely dismissed due to the lack of corroboratory evidence, but The Mandalorian's pilot episode suddenly makes this a whole lot more believable. If that's the case, then far from being betrayed, Lucas has actively participated in revealing Yoda's race. That would certainly fit with a comment from Disney CEO Bob Iger; in one interview with Bloomberg, Iger was asked about Lucas' view on The Mandalorian, and simply said he was "fine" with the show. It was hardly a glowing endorsement, of course, but Iger has earned a reputation for being both candid and diplomatic. He wouldn't put words in Lucas' mouth.
It will be fascinating to watch how The Mandalorian develops. The pilot episode appears to commit the show to a plot in which Pedro Pascal's titular bounty hunter investigates the alien baby that's now in his charge. The first-ever live-action Star Wars TV series will now make history for exploring a concept Lucas has traditionally kept off the table - but it may do so with Lucas' own blessing.
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