Jon Favreau saved the waning Disney era of Star Wars with The Mandalorian. The Mandalorian and its spin-off The Book of Boba Fett have introduced great new takes on iconic existing characters – Luke Skywalker, a resurrected Boba Fett, and the live-action debut of Cad Bane certainly didn’t disappoint – but Favreau’s best contributions to the Star Wars canon have been his original creations.
From Din Djarin to Grogu, Favreau has populated a galaxy far, far away with a handful of new beloved icons that fans can look up to and follow on their spacefaring adventures.
Voiced by Taika Waititi, IG-11 is a bounty hunter droid who effortlessly annihilates a legion of henchmen like a Terminator with full 360-degree spin capabilities. In the now-iconic pilot episode of The Mandalorian, Mando first became a traditional hero when he shot IG-11 in the head to save Grogu.
IG-11’s willingness to kill “The Child” made him instantly hated among the fan base, but he earned an unexpected redemption later in the season as he was reprogrammed as a nanny droid sworn to protect Grogu (and used his Terminator gadgets for good).
Emily Swallow recently reprised her role as the Armorer to deliver a bombshell plot twist – the Mandalorian’s banishment from the Mandalorian religion – on The Book of Boba Fett. As dedicated as Din is to the Mando creeds, the Armorer makes him look like a heretic.
It’s a shame that the Armorer has cut ties with Din, because she supplied him with all his coolest gadgets and weapons (except for the Darksaber, which he acquired on his own).
When Star Wars fans are first introduced to Greef Karga, the head of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, he’s a low-key villain. He encourages Mando to kill and forbids him from taking “The Child” under his wing. He softened his edges and became more of a straightforward protagonist after Grogu Force-healed his wound and melted his heart.
Carl Weathers has given a typically charming performance as Karga since his debut in The Mandalorian’s pilot episode. Karga proved to be likable and compelling enough to have his role in the story expanded and Weathers has since joined the show’s team of directors.
Favreau didn’t just bring back Boba Fett; he gave him a badass sidekick in the form of Ming-Na Wen’s mercenary Fennec Shand. After Mando left Fennec for dead, Boba patched her up with some cybernetic parts – effectively saving her life – so she now acts as a loyal cohort.
After a couple of unforgettable turns in Mandalorian episodes, Fennec’s character was significantly expanded with supporting roles in The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett.
Favreau introduced Star Wars fans to a lovable Ugnaught in The Mandalorian. The Ugnaughts were best known as the Cloud City bullies who dismantled C-3PO and taunted Chewie with the parts in The Empire Strikes Back before Kuiil appeared in The Mandalorian.
Renowned for his iconic catchphrase, “I have spoken,” Kuiil is a delightfully gruff, hilariously blunt, ultimately sweet friend of Mando’s voiced by Nick Nolte.
After his turn as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad (and later in the prequel Better Call Saul), Giancarlo Esposito quickly became one of television’s go-to villain actors. In the years since, he’s played Stan Edgar in The Boys and, of course, Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian.
An Imperial bureaucrat with delusions of grandeur, Moff Gideon has already become a classic Star Wars villain. Esposito has brought the moff to life with a perfect blend of dramatic nuance and hammed-up theatrics.
Introduced in the season 1 episode “Chapter 4: Sanctuary,” Gina Carano’s Rebel shock trooper-turned-mercenary Cara Dune is one of the most badass characters in The Mandalorian.
Cara joins Mando for a kind of Seven Samurai alliance (minus five of the samurai) as they defend a village from an attack by bandits. From this point on, Cara was one of Mando’s most trusted allies. Whenever he was in a jam, he could call upon her for help.
In the first season of The Mandalorian, Bill Burr’s character – ex-Imperial marksman Migs Mayfeld – was introduced as a standard wisecracking antihero, busting Mando’s chops and eventually betraying him. But in the second season, Favreau, Burr, and director Rick Famuyiwa gave the character much more depth. Mando teams up with Mayfeld to infiltrate an Imperial refinery and find Grogu’s location.
Season 2 explored Mayfeld’s history with the Empire and the PTSD he lives with. In this episode, Mayfeld emerged as one of The Mandalorian’s most interesting supporting players (and Burr has emerged as a compelling dramatic actor). Hopefully, fans haven’t seen the last of this character.
Favreau might as well have invented a money-printing machine when the stroke of genius occurred to him to introduce a baby from Yoda’s species in a Lone Wolf and Cub storyline. Commonly known as “Baby Yoda,” Grogu became a worldwide sensation overnight.
Disney managed to hide “The Child” in all the show’s marketing, preserving the surprise. The Mandalorian was already a must-see show for Star Wars fans, but the relentless adorableness of “Baby Yoda” attracted viewers who’d never seen a Star Wars movie in their lives.
Grogu might be the global cultural phenomenon that brought millions of viewers across the world to The Mandalorian, but they stuck around for Mando himself. With the spaghetti western ice-coolness of Boba Fett and the plucky heroic spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Mandalorian is the ultimate Star Wars protagonist.
Pedro Pascal’s heartfelt performance has humanized a gun-toting bounty hunter who spends most of his time hiding behind a mask. Audiences will follow Din Djarin’s adventures for as long as Favreau continues to write them.