Gina Carano has been fired from The Mandalorian, after two seasons of playing tough-as-nails mercenary ally Cara Dune on the show (and almost getting a Dune-centered spinoff). This decision was, frankly, a long time coming. Carano has a history of expressing noxious beliefs, including a slew of social media posts trafficking in explicit antisemitism, transphobia, sedition-stirring sentiment, and more. She will not be missed!
But: Her character, Cara Dune, just might be. Especially in a primarily male-dominated world like Star Wars, Dune stuck out as being a fierce warrior with an intriguing backstory and combat-oriented skills to pay the bills. Will this character simply be recast? Or will a new female warrior join the show in its third season, to ensure The Mandalorian is inspiring for and inclusive of all people who watch and participate in the show?
Below, humbly, are 15 performers who I think would be excellent additions to the world of the masked man, his beautiful green son, and a whole lot of favors. Whether they play Cara Dune explicitly or a new character with a similar narrative purpose, these performers have proven time and time again what an asset they are to any action role. And bonus points: In real life, they’re not constantly saying stuff that’s problematic as hell, either!
Who would you pick as your new Cara Dune? Here are my thoughts:
On the cult sci-fi TV series The Expanse, Frankie Adams literally plays a member of the Martian Marine Corps. If that doesn’t shoot her to the front of the line for The Mandalorian, maybe her experience in fantastical action film Mortal Engines will, or the fact that she, like Carano, has real-life experience fighting. Adams would be phenomenal in this role, and it would be a great spotlight for any non-Expanse fans to finally appreciate her.
Her long history as a stunt performer, her brilliantly crackerjack roles in Quentin Tarantino films like Death Proof and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, her leading performances in underrated genre thrill-rides like Raze: Zoë Bell is, has been, and will continue to be one of the best, most talented, and most wholesome action performers in all of cinema. My goodness would she destroy this role.
Sofia Boutella has been crushing in highly physical action roles again and again and again. Kingsman, Star Trek Beyond, Atomic Blonde, Climax, Hotel Artemis, and yes, she also utterly rules in that much-maligned Tom Cruise-starring The Mummy. She’s a unique, wholly watchable performer who would add a jolt of energy to The Mandalorian. She’s even used to wearing space makeup!
Rebecca Ferguson absolutely steals Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Just yanks that sucker away from everyone else, with an inimitable combination of brains, brawns, and cleanly cool charisma. She is adept at action choreography, commands every room she walks in, and like other notable Star Wars characters, has experience corrupting children in Doctor Sleep. She would simply steal The Mandalorian.
In her dual action breakthrough roles in Black Panther and The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira exudes a warrior-like strength with an ethereal sense of emotional vulnerability. Watching her wield her weapons in the MCU makes for jaw-dropping action cinema; watching her break down and try to reckon with horrible truths in TWD makes for tear-jerking television. She can do it all, Danai Gurira can!
This one’s a gimmie. We’ve watched her obliterate the screen as an action hero in the entire dang Resident Evil series. We’ve seen her acclimate herself perfectly to “weird sci-fi-scapes” in The Fifth Element. And we’ve seen her become a lowkey nerd culture icon; a status only solidified by her latest video game adaptation Monster Hunter. It’s time to give her a shot at the nerd culture brass ring that is Star Wars.
Obviously, Lucy Lawless is a goddamn Warrior Princess (Xena, if I must be specific). And obviously, she has been excellent in her numerous performances since then, often playing with a refreshing sense of self-awareness in genre works like Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Battlestar Galactica, and the Spartacus TV universe. But the biggest reason Lucy Lawless should take Gina Carano’s role is because of Lawless’ penchant for destroying problematic foes on Twitter. And this replacement would just be too poetic.
In Kill Bill Vol. 1, Lucy Liu shows more nuance, depth, intrigue, charisma, fearsomeness, and overall watchability than Carano ever did over two seasons of The Mandalorian. Couple this with her fun and whimsy in the 2000s Charlie’s Angels franchise, the family-friendly accessibility in Kung Fu Panda, and the tough-as-nails-but-still-vulnerable television professionalism of Elementary, and Liu is more than a shoe-in.
In The Matrix, Carrie-Anne Moss is introduced flying in the air high-kicking a goon while the camera spins around her. In Memento, Carrie-Anne Moss is such a relentless force of aggression and power that he makes Guy Pearce punch her because she wanted him to. In Jessica Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss proved she can play within nontraditional IP-based streaming shows with aplomb. How has Carrie-Anne Moss not played 12 Jedi in The Mandalorian already?
Teyonah Parris is incredible on WandaVision, knocking out both the sitcom performances and conspiracy-action-thriller sequences in equal measure. She’s only going to get more of a chance to shine in the forthcoming Captain Marvel 2. Let’s keep that star a-rising and get her swinging a space sword in The Mandalorian!
Even in the indie comedy feature The Argument, Maggie Q possesses power, allure, and devastating intimidation. And this isn’t to mention her simply gobsmacking CV of action titles: Mission: Impossible III, Nikita, Live Free or Die Hard, Priest, the Divergent series, Designated Survivor… If Maggie Q shows up as a new Mandalorian character, she will instantly become a mysterious fan favorite, and you can bet on that.
The Mandalorian is, at its core, a series about finding family. The Fast and Furious franchise is, at its core, a series where characters say the word “Family” once a minute. Michelle Rodriguez is one of the core family members of F&F, and also owns her roles in Machete, Widows, Girlfight, Resident Evil, and Avatar. You see where I’m going with this, yes?
I mean, obviously. From Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, The Old Guard, and everything between, Charlize Theron has established herself as an A-list action hero of the highest caliber. Moreover, she gives these characters an uncommon amount of inner turmoil and vulnerability amongst their fierce firepower. Since she isn’t reprising Furiosa anytime soon, why not come play in a galaxy far, far away?
In Queen & Slim, Jodie Turner-Smith absolutely blew me away with her complicated, shifting, agency-yielding, and horror-reacting performance. She is so often in control, and when she isn’t, she fights until she is again. Couple this with her upcoming work in Amazon actioner Without Remorse, and Turner-Smith would be a beguiling, mysterious addition to The Mandalorian that would pay off in high dividends.
I love how The Mandalorian uses comedic actors to add levity, and a surprising amount of pathos, to its galactic milieu. Amy Sedaris, Horatio Sanz, Bill Burr — these comedy performers all thrive in the show. And I would love to see Aisha Tyler, who has more than refined her chops in the comedy-thriller space on Archer (not to mention her work in genuine actioners like 24 and XIII: The Series), join the wonderful crew. Tyler also brings a treasure trove of nerd culture knowledge to the table, and she would simply be too fun a foil for Pedro Pascal‘s mostly-silent warrior to play off of.
The third season of The Mandalorian will begin shooting later in 2021.
That’s a lot of dang muscles!
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