Is ‘The Mandalorian’ A ‘Star Wars’ Take on a Famous Samurai Series?

Most of what we know about the upcoming live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian was shared by showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book) over Instagram, where he described the show as following “the travails of a long gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy,” sometime between the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order. But a new rumor posted to r/StarWarsLeaks and deemed plausible by leaks warehouse Making Star Wars may tell us quite a bit more. Could The Mandalorian be a Star Wars , sci-fi take on the famous samurai manga Lone Wolf and Cub?

“I was able to go to a Star Wars marketing presentation by Disney,” anonymous user Xyzsvtabc reports. “They showed a sizzle reel of Jon Favreau talking about how he’s excited because they have delved into some of the EU for this series.”

The EU, or Expanded Universe, refers to the decades of accumulated lore in novels, comics and video games that was erased from the overall Star Wars continuity after Disney bought Lucasfilm.

“The main thing I remember here is that the central plot revolves around the main character and and a baby,” Xyzsvtabc said. “I guess the Mandalorian encounters a baby on one of his missions that he is supposed to kill, but instead of that, he ends up saving it and a lot of the rest of the story revolves around their growing relationship and his efforts to keep the child safe and protected.”

This isn’t exactly an original premise. Dubbed the “Badass and Baby” by TV Tropes, you can watch mostly-silent, nigh invincible gunfighters kill armies of enemies with a baby in their hands in movies like Shoot ‘em Up and Hard Boiled. But landmark manga Lone Wolf and Cub may be the most influential, and still the best, take on the idea.

In Lone Wolf and Cub, written by Kazuo Koike with art by Goseki Kojima, the executioner to the shogun becomes an assassin for hire after the treacherous Yagyu clan kills his wife and ruins the reputation of his house. The catch: he has his son, Diagoro, with him. The series was adapted into six movies, with titles like Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx. Until recently, English-speaking audiences were more likely to encounter the movie Shogun Assassin, which re-edits the first two entries in the Lone Wolf and Cub series into a single, bloody story. Sci-fi versions, like Lone Wolf 2100, have also been attempted.

lone-wolf-and-cub-shogun-assassin-movie Could Ogami Itto and his son Diagoro be the inspiration for the plot of "The Mandalorian"? New World Pictures

Since the Mandalorian himself, played by Pedro Pascal (Narcos, Game of Thrones), is obviously modeled after Boba Fett, a stoic gunslinger, The Mandalorian ’s links to the Western genre are obvious. And just as Westerns and samurai movies have always interacted—most famously when Sergio Leone remade Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo as Fistful of DollarsStar Wars has always owed a major debt to the style, characters and action of Japanese cinema, such as in the parallels between the original Star Wars and The Hidden Fortress, another Kurosawa movie. So it’s easy to see why combining Star Wars with one of the most influential samurai stories ever told would seem like a natural fit.

Whether it’s actually true or not, we’ll just have to wait and find out. The Mandalorian will stream on Disney+ in 2019.

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