That’s because Filoni has been behind what, to me, are some of the most iconic moments in all of Star Wars—and if you only watch the movies, you missed them. In Rebels, he turned the final lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul into a fight between two masters straight from Seven Samurai, a long pause for staring and then two or three quick saber strokes, followed by Kenobi caring for his longtime adversary as he dies—because that’s what Jedi do. Or, just to really geek out here for a second, consider the genius of the way Filoni handles Darth Vader, when no one really knows who he is. A young Jedi apprentice wants to take him on; his mentor simply says, “Run.” Eventually Vader shows up standing atop his TIE fighter, descending slowly. It’s all menace, a Vader no one really thought to show until the add-on scenes in Rogue One. “I always used to simplify it for people coming on board: The thing about Vader is, when he enters a room, the heroes run away. The reason a lot of people don’t know about him is he kills everybody,” Filoni says. “I wanted that on screen, that unstoppable force.”
So! All that said, with Mandalorian debuting Tuesday, I asked Filoni to pick his iconic scenes, the moments that defined Star Wars for him as a creator. He grabbed the task in an unbreakable Force-choke … though he declined to choose anything from his own work or the Disney-era films. Make of that what you will. What he did pick comprises a look into the head of one of the most dedicated Star Wars creators working today—and maybe a kind of philosophical preview of Star Wars’ future on the small screen.
Yoda Raises the X-Wing
Luke’s spaceship has crashed and sunk under the swamps of the planet Dagobah, where the Jedi Master Yoda is in hiding. Yoda tells Luke to use the Force to raise it; Luke fails. Yoda does not. “The staging is perfect, the music is perfect, and Mark Hamill, as he so often does, just sells this moment of magic,” Filoni says. “It’s a perfect Jedi lesson, a perfect Jedi moment, something we’re getting for the first time, this knowledge that using the Force, being a Jedi, is not simply about fighting with a lightsaber.”