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Star Wars: Ming-Na Wen to The Bad Batch; Empire Strikes Back retrospective; Waititi jokes mystery project

By Josh Weiss
Ming Na-Wen The Mandalorian

Ming-Na Wen will voice her Mandalorian character, bounty hunter Fennec Shand, in the upcoming Star Wars: The Bad Batch animated series.

Chatting with the official Star Wars website, Wen teased an origin story of Shand's early bounty hunting days, as the show is set in the immediate aftermath of the Clone Wars (for context, Mando's story doesn't pick up until five years after the fall of the Empire).

"She's cutting her teeth as a bounty hunter in The Bad Batch ... She's still a loner, a drifter ... There's just a sense of more recklessness about her, just bravado. You know, a young punk. She's more adventurous and willing to take greater risks because she doesn't know what the consequences are," the actress said.

Wen also confirmed the news on Twitter:

It's basically the exact opposite of Katee Sackhoff, who voiced Nite Owl leader Bo-Katan Kryze in Star Wars: Rebels before making the jump to live-action in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Left for dead on Tatooine in "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger," Shand returned in "Chapter 14: The Tragedy," as an indentured servant to Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison).

"There's a dependency and a respect that they have for each other, for sure. It's more like teamwork," Wen said of Shand's relationship with Fett. "He's sort of like the front guy, right? The one that everybody sees. But behind the curtain we're more equal. Like in that scene in Chapter 14 where she's like 'You better go to your ship.' He just goes! I really, really liked that."

The Bad Batch, which dropped its first trailer last Thursday, premieres on Disney+ sometime next year.

To help celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucasfilm released a short retrospective video on Twitter. The legacy featurette contains voiceover testimonials from galactic veterans like Kathleen Kennedy, Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, Diego Luna, Taika Waititi, Pedro Pascal, and Leslye Headland.

"Star Wars a real game-changer in 1977. Empire Strikes Back delivered one of the best sequels in the history of cinema," says Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm.

Watch below:

Directed by Irvin Kershner (RoboCop 2), Episode V was not an instant classic upon its theatrical release in May of 1980. While it contained one of the best onscreen twists of all time (Darth Vader revealing himself to be Luke Skywalker's father), critics originally disliked the darker tone and downbeat ending. Of course, that all changed over the decades and Empire is now considered to be the best entry in the original trilogy and, in some cases, the best entry in the entire franchise.

"[It's] a very challenging film for audiences. None of the characters that you are following are actually succeeding in any possible way. It's very dark and intense," explains Luna, who will return to play Rebel spy Cassian Andor in the Disney+ prequel series to Rogue One.

Earlier this week, Good Morning America shared some never-before-seen footage from Episode V's production. The sequel is currently available to stream on Disney+.

Plenty of Star Wars projects are coming to Disney+, but Lucasfilm isn't forgetting its presence on the big screen.

In addition to Patty Jenkins' Rogue Squadron movie, Taika Waititi is also working on a mystery project set in the galaxy far, far away. He's slated to direct the film (announced on May 4 earlier this year), working from a screenplay he is currently writing with 1917 and Last Night in Soho scribe, Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Shortly after the massive announcements made during Disney's special investors call last week, Waititi (who directed and starred in episodes of The Mandalorian) posted on Instagram, jokingly writing: "What?? Ugh, as a longtime fan of Star Wars, I'm so angry about what I'm about to do to ruin it."

Well played, sir.

Take a look:

Per IMDB, Waititi's Star Wars movie won't be released in theaters until December 2025.