HEAT VISION

How Rosario Dawson Can Move 'The Mandalorian' Forward

With fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano coming to live-action, there's an opportunity for audiences to dig even deeper into the mythos of 'Star Wars.'
Rosario Dawson   |   Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
With fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano coming to live-action, there's an opportunity for audiences to dig even deeper into the mythos of 'Star Wars.'

The Force is set to become even stronger in The Mandalorian season two.

On Friday, Slash Film broke the news that Ahsoka Tano will be making her live-action debut in the Disney+ series, where she will be played by Rosario Dawson. Introduced in the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), which served as a lead-in to the animated series The Clone Wars, Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) began her journey as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan. Although somewhat of a annoyance during those early seasons, and seemingly unnecessary given her absence in Revenge of the Sith (2005), Ahsoka emerged as a fan-favorite character and powerful Jedi over the course of the series, and the sequel show Star Wars: Rebels. Arguably creator Dave Filoni’s biggest character contribution to the Star Wars franchise, it makes sense that Ahsoka would be featured on The Mandalorian, for which Filoni serves as writer and executive producer. But her live-action debut comes with more than a few questions, and the promise of the Mandalorian’s (Pedro Pascal) world being driven ever closer to the mysteries of the Force.

One of the most interesting aspects about Ahsoka, and why fans are so drawn to her, is her character development. She was a character clearly geared towards younger audiences in the beginning and has grown up with that same audience, maturing and being forced to make tough choices about her future, and her survival. The current and final season of The Clone Wars is currently exploring Ahsoka’s days since leaving the Jedi order, after she was falsely accused of treason and lost faith in the Jedi way. This is leading to a long-anticipated clash against Maul (Sam Witwer) on Mandalore at the end of the season. But her life beyond that battle has already been revealed on Rebels, in which an older Ahsoka, under the codename Fulcrum, served the Rebel Alliance. Eventually her path led her to a confrontation with her former master, Darth Vader, and the Emperor. She was last seen at the end of the Galactic Civil War following the destruction of the second Death Star, searching for the Jedi Ezra Bridger who had discovered a portal through time and space known as The World Between Worlds. Her voice was among those heard by Rey during the Battle of Exegol in The Rise of Skywalker (2019), leading many to fear she dies sometime between Return of the Jedi (1983) and Rise of Skywalker.

While Ahsoka’s appearance on The Mandalorian, set five years after Return of the Jedi and 26 years before Rise of Skywalker, may seem to promise her death on the series, comments from Filoni earlier this year suggest that Ahsoka’s voice being heard by Rey (Daisy Ridley) does not mean the character is dead. Therefore, there’s no reason to go into The Mandalorian season two thinking of it as a swan song for Ahsoka. I suspect her quest for Ezra Bridger may be put on hold due to the problem of the Darksaber, which was in possession of the series’ new big bad, Moff Gideon, at the end of the first season. While Ahsoka never owned the Darksaber herself, the Mandalorian Sabine Wren, who joined Ahsoka in her search for Bridger at the end of Rebels, once claimed it before passing it to Bo-Katan Kryze, who was said to lead the Mandalorians against the Empire. With Ahsoka showing up on The Mandalorian, and the Mandalorians nearly extinct, it would make sense that Sabine would come into play as well, though no casting has been announced.

There’s also the predicament of “The Child,” aka Baby Yoda. Given his strength in the Force, it seems likely that the Mandalorian will seek out someone who could train him and help hone his skills. And that person might very well be Ahsoka. It would bring her story full-circle, in a very Star Wars way, to have the character who began as a Padawan to a more famous character become a Master to a new character. Dawson possesses the kind of strong-willed yet empathetic performance traits, which served her so well as Claire Temple on Netflix’s Marvel series, to bring Ahsoka Tano to life with respect to Eckstein’s development of the character over the years. The actress’ casting, much like that of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, is one of the few times where a popular fancast has become a reality. It’s not only easier to imagine her in the role of teacher to Baby Yoda, but also as a warrior who can aid the Mandalorian in his battle against Gideon and the remnants of the Empire. And maybe we’ll get some idea about her thoughts on Luke Skywalker and his decision to build a new Jedi order.

Ahsoka Tano’s inclusion on The Mandalorian is exciting for a number of reasons, and is set to provide the show with an even larger scope. But what’s most important about her role is how much it serves to strengthen the bridge of Star Wars animation and live-action properties, which is a bridge not all Star Wars fans have crossed. The answers to a number of Star Wars questions, the galaxy’s history and the threads seemingly left dangling in The Rise of Skywalker have been expected to come from future movies. But many of them can be found on The Clone Wars, Rebels and now The Mandalorian. With the popularity of The Mandalorian and Ahsoka’s upcoming appearance, there’s an opportunity for Star Wars fans to dig even deeper into the mythos of this franchise and gain a new understanding to the galaxy they thought they knew inside and out.

  • Richard Newby
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