The Mandalorian is finally here, but those expecting a typical Star Wars hero — fresh-faced, feisty, and ready for adventure — might've been surprised by the new show's ostensible protagonist. The Mandalorian is played by Pedro Pascal, best known as Game of Throne's Oberyn Martell and Narcos' Javier Peña. You'd be forgiven for not recognizing him; covered in body armor, face completely masked by a reflective helmet, and barely speaking, Pedro Pascal's The Mandalorian character is an enigma whose actions hint at a buried conscience.
A silent, stoic hero would make sense; after all, Pascal described the show to Variety as a Western infused with steroids, taking Star Wars' genre nods of local bar fights, desert standoffs, and climactic showdowns, and pumping them full-blast. But instead of playing with the black hat/white hat cowboy dynamic of '50s films, The Mandalorian's going for the moodiness of '70s spaghetti westerns. The main character even lacks a proper handle (for now) beyond The Mandalorian, just like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name in Sergio Leone's famous Dollars trilogy.
"The Mandalorian...is your iconically cool, flawed, mysterious, lone loner gunslinger", Pascal told ComicBook.com. "He's very samurai, Clint [Eastwood] and me!" Pascal may have also inadvertently let slip the the man with no name's name in that same interview, something that might be held back from the audience for several episodes to create an aura of drama and mystery.
Much like that ambiguous, seemingly selfish anti-hero, the Mandalorian is a man out for himself, calmly collecting bounties across the galaxy. Speaking to the Associated Press, Pascal noted that the creators "separate good and evil so perfectly in the world of Star Wars. And in [The Mandalorian]...we’re past those borders.” It's difficult to get a read on a character who says so little. Yet the Mandalorian's boldest move in Episode 1, shooting a droid to save the life of a baby/bounty, is just as mysterious as the rest of his character. Did he, an orphan of war (as seen in flashbacks), feel empathy for the tiny target? Or did he want to get the rest of that immense under-the-table reward all for himself?
Show director and executive producer Dave Filoni explained it this way. "He’s a bounty hunter, he's on the edge of things himself...when you're dealing with the Jedi, they're obviously trying to uphold what's good," says Filoni. "What's unique about Mando is that he's basically a guy that's just trying to make a living in the galaxy. He's a survivor and he's just trying to find his way on a day-to-day basis."
What we do know about the character can be sussed out from his nickname — Mandalorian history tells of a great warrior tradition that became a crusade, with outward expansion to other planets that eventually led to civil war, societal collapse, and rule by the Empire. The Mandalorians' first confrontations with mystic Jedi didn't deter them, but spurred them to create the legendary armor they're known and identified by to balance the fight. It's made of beskar, the metal the Mandalorian received as down payment for his bounty and immediately had a fellow Mandalorian smith into armor, toughening him further. But from his donation of credits to foundlings while doing so, there might just be a soft heart beneath that steel yet. Only future episodes will tell.