Before we get to “The Mandalorian,” let’s talk for a minute about Martin Scorsese.
Exaggerating to make a point — and tweaking the imperial pretensions of the phrase Marvel Cinematic Universe — Scorsese recently maintained that Marvel movies were “not cinema.”
Now I would like to think that Scorsese, like me and most of the sensible people I know, realized that Marvel’s “Black Panther” was one of the better movies nominated for the best-picture Oscar this year, if not the best. (He may have preferred “Roma”; people who throw around the word “cinema” generally did.)
But his point stands, reinforced by the sometimes wounded and humorless response it invoked. It is possible — easy, with small enough budgets — for movies to answer primarily to the personal, artistic choices of filmmakers, and that is how the very best movies get made. It is not possible for blockbuster-aspiring franchise sequels to be made that way — they will always be constrained by the need to answer to nervous rights holders and demanding fan bases.
Which brings us back to “The Mandalorian.” It isn’t a film, but it’s in the continuum of which Scorsese spoke — a series that extends the “Star Wars” franchise overseen by Marvel’s corporate cousin Lucasfilm,