The Mandalorian has been a massive success so far. It has drawn in both new and old Star Wars fans during its first couple of seasons by focusing on the fundamental elements that popularized the franchise back in 1977. While the show has introduced us to many fascinating characters and unexpected storylines, it has another secret power that leads to its success: its unique ability to intrigue a range of talented directors to want to work on it, from independent filmmakers to Oscar winners.
With season three of The Mandalorian on its way sometime in 2022, there is plenty of time for speculation. We have seen episodes directed by Taika Waititi, Robert Rodriguez, and Bryce Dallas Howard already, so at this point, it feels like anyone could be eligible for the next season. These previous visionaries successfully captured the essence of Star Wars in their episodes and even brought new ideas and perspectives. Each filmmaker in the following list has the potential to captivate the audience while also evolving the history of one of cinema’s greatest franchises.
5. Gareth Evans
Known For: The Raid 1 + 2, Apostle
When it comes to action sequences, it’s hard to think of a show that does it better than The Mandalorian. Between confrontations on Tatooine to epic chase scenes, our hero rarely gets a day to relax. So far, the series has been delivering amazing fight scenes that are fun to watch. The only thing it hasn’t done yet is a non-stop action extravaganza.
Gareth Evans created a legacy for himself after releasing The Raid, known for its brutal violence and stunning choreography. He has the ability to elevate action to a new level by using single-camera takes and creative fight sequences. Think of the hallway scene from Oldboy, but as an entire movie. I would love to see him work on an episode that requires The Mandalorian to defeat hundreds of enemies to reach his goal, something that physically pushes Mando to his limits and shows how far he will go to finish a job.
Action aside, Evans has another thread that connects his movies thematically: an underdog fighting for the right cause. As much as I want to see him helm an episode because of his eye for style, he also understands why protagonists need to fight. He doesn’t create mindless violence, as his heroes are always battling for something they believe in. The Mandalorian is a deep and emotional character, and Evans can give him the fight to prove it.
4. Chloé Zhao
Known for: The Rider, Nomadland
Star Wars has always contained nomadic elements. Many of the characters we meet often call their vehicles home and never stay in one place too long. In contrast to the previous director, some of my favorite moments in this franchise have been during the moments of silence when a character takes a beat to soak in their surroundings and enjoy a sunrise.
Recently known for her Oscar-winning film Nomadland, Chloé Zhao is one of the best directors to capture this ambiance. The Mandalorian rarely uses an episode for introspection, but season three could be the best time to try. Mando may have some downtime during the opening hours of his next chapter, and maybe that’s a good time for him to embrace the nomadic lifestyle and enjoy the space he is in.
Zhao has an incredible talent for telling stories through atmosphere rather than dialogue. I could envision an episode of The Mandalorian with no talking involved, using only environmental storytelling instead – similar to the Bojack Horseman episode “Fish Out of Water.” I feel like there is so much potential in watching our hero roam through space, looking for new bounties, or just taking some vacation days. There is also the possibility of an episode focusing on the connections and friends made along the way. With Zhao behind the camera, we could have a more intimate look at what happens between fighting Spacetroopers and saving the galaxy.
3. The Safdie Brothers
Known for: Good Time, Uncut Gems
The Mandalorian has had a pretty rough life. His story begins in tragedy, and he is doing what he can to make sure it doesn’t end that way. Over two seasons, we have watched him grow from a ruthless bounty hunter to a guardian of hope. He can be both dangerous and caring, a tough act to balance. When pulled between the sides of good and evil, it could lead anyone to a breaking point.
In Josh and Benny Safdie’s movie Good Time, they tell the story of a man willing to do whatever it takes to help out his Brother. Over two seasons of The Mandalorian, we have watched Mando do something similar. But the TV show has never had the chance to explore the mental toll it must take on someone to go through life or death situations for another. I think the Safdie’s could direct an intense and anxiety-driven episode about our hero confronting his past while trying to save the day.
As we learn more about Mando’s psyche, it becomes easier to imagine an episode that overwhelmingly confronts him with everything. Whether through flashbacks or possible mind tricks from an enemy, he has enough trauma that someone may use it against him. The Safdie’s are known for making the audience sweat as much as their characters do during tough situations and are great at building suspense. I’m usually on the edge of my seat while watching The Mandalorian, but an episode directed by them could knock me off the couch. Benny Safdie has also been confirmed to play a role in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi show, so a stop by this set doesn’t seem too far off.
2. Edgar Wright
Known for: Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver
One of my favorite aspects of The Mandalorian is its ability to jump between genres seamlessly. One episode can be influenced by old Western movies, while prison escape films inspire another. This is probably one of the greatest reasons for the show to bring in different directors, as each one usually specializes in whichever style they want.
Edgar Wright is one of the few filmmakers that can seemingly create anything. Originally known for comedies like Hot Fuzz, Wright recently jumped to the action genre with his movie Baby Driver. He is a talented director who could oversee any upcoming episode, but what would be the best fit? Combining his humor, style, and eye for detail, I think he could helm a phenomenal episode focused on everyone’s favorite pastime: Podracing.
The Mandalorian is often making deals with strangers, typically so he can get something in return. If a Podracing tournament offered the right reward for its winner, it’s easy to imagine our hero begrudgingly buckling in for the ride. The rest of the episode could be a wild combination of Death Race meets Mad Max. However, Wright could masterfully weave the humor and action elements of this premise into a great episode.
I would also love to see how he blends Ludwig Göransson’s score into the action. He has always been known for his fast-paced editing, typically around sound cues. With Wright behind the camera, the audience is guaranteed a stylish and immersive product.
1. James Mangold
Known for: Walk the Line, Logan
The filmmakers listed above were chosen because of their unique talents and with certain ideas in mind for them. At the end of the day, though, The Mandalorian needs someone who can encapsulate each of those skills and create a cohesive and compelling story. Star Wars works best when every aspect is synchronized, from the action to the setting and everything in between. I don’t think anyone else is a better candidate than James Mangold.
Rumors swirled back in 2018 that Mangold was possibly working on a Boba Fett film. While that is no longer happening, he may be helping out with the upcoming Book of Boba Fett show. Whether he is or not, I hope he gets a shot with The Mandalorian. Since Logan, he has been known for directing intense, character-driven stories with impeccable style and substance.
The best director for The Mandalorian is someone with a passion for the franchise. Someone who knows exactly what makes it great and knows how to evolve its legacy. James Mangold checks every box on the list, and I believe he could help the show explore some newer and possibly darker territory. I don’t think he would be as effective for a one-off episode, though. Instead, I would love to see him plant the seeds for a story in the season three premiere and come back to harvest them for the finale.
At the end of the day, The Mandalorian is merely a branch on an ever-growing tree. I trust that Mangold would be able to step in and create memorable moments. I know he could expand on the mythos of Mandalorian culture. Most of all, I know he would deliver a character arc worth praising.
Are there any directors you would like to see work on the show? Let us know in the comments below.