Gina Carano Was Fired from The Mandalorian, But Should Cara Dune Live On?
Star Wars has set a precedent for the type of franchise it wants to be by parting ways with Gina Carano, but should that mean completely erasing Cara Dune?
Gina Carano deserved to be fired from The Mandalorian after months of posting dangerous online rhetoric that goes against everything Star Wars should stand for. After Carano used her Twitter bio to mock the common practice of users listing preferred pronouns, deny the gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic, post election fraud conspiracy theories, refuse to show support for Black Lives Matter, and imply that being a right-wing conservative today was like being a Jewish person during the Holocaust, Disney finally did the right thing.
“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views,” read her now-deleted Tik Tok post.
While Carano did return for The Mandalorian season 2, which wrapped just before the Covid lockdowns that seemingly triggered the actor’s toxic views on social media, Disney decided that it had seen enough. In a statement released on Wednesday night, a spokesperson for Disney said that Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.” The spokesperson also confirmed that Carano “is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” effectively putting an end to her time on The Mandalorian and Star Wars. Deadline also confirmed that Carano and her agency UTA have parted ways.
Two days later, Carano doubled down, announcing a new movie project with alt-right pundit Ben Shapiro’s conservative website The Daily Wire. She will develop, produce, and star in the movie, which will release exclusively to the site’s members, according to Deadline. Carano dubiously framed her next move as “a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob.”
But while Carano may see herself as a rebel fighting for the right to claim “freedom of speech” no matter how hateful or downright false her posts, there are also plenty of Star Wars fans who are relieved to see her jettisoned from the universe they love. While Disney should still be held accountable for how it failed John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran, actors of color who faced racist attacks upon being cast in the Sequel Trilogy, and who were sidelined as the trilogy progressed, the company has done a much better job of late of showing where it stands on the issues. The company stood in support of The High Republic show host Krystina Arielle after she faced similar attacks. By firing Carano, Disney and Lucasfilm have taken a clear stance not only against bigotry but the kind of dangerous rhetoric that has become pervasive among a small but loud minority of the fandom (although I’d hardly call them actual “fans”).
THR learned from a source close to Lucasfilm that the studio had been “looking for a reason to fire her for two months” and that Carano’s Holocaust post was “the final straw.” According to the outlet, Lucasfilm had previously planned to have Carano star in her own Mandalorian spinoff, potentially Rangers of the New Republic, and considered making the announcement during its investor’s day event in December before that idea was scrapped due to her social media posts.
Does Carano’s firing mean that this is the end of her character’s time in Star Wars? While the end of Cara Dune’s storyline in The Mandalorian season 2 teased that there would be more to her journey as a mercenary turned New Republic marshal, for the moment, that adventure seems to have been cut short. That said, some fans are already wondering whether Cara’s life in the galaxy far, far away could continue without Carano.
A few people on Twitter have suggested that the character should simply be recast, with Lucy Lawless already positioned as a frontrunner among fans. The Xena: Warrior Princess and Battlestar Galactica actor and activist would be more than a suitable replacement for Carano and the kind of talent the Star Wars brand should want to work with. Not to mention that Lawless would bring the energy, grit, and physicality needed to play a tough-as-carbonite brawler like Cara.
But as nice as it is to dream of Lawless or another fan-favorite performer taking on the role of Cara Dune and continuing her story, Star Wars has traditionally been averse to recasting its characters to the point where the franchise would rather paste a questionable CGI version of Mark Hamill’s face on another actor’s head than cast someone new to play a younger Luke Skywalker. (Sebastian Stan, for example.)
Not that Lucasfilm hasn’t tried recasting before, such as when it brought on Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover to play pre-Original Trilogy versions of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but that movie was a box office failure for the studio. While there are many reasons why that film failed, a few fans might tell you it’s because Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams weren’t in it. If history tells us anything, it’s that there’s a section of this fandom that does not like change.
That’s not to say Disney should go out of its way to pander to viewers who are resistant to change. Big franchises like Star Wars need to embrace change to stay fresh and better reflect audiences. And Disney certainly shouldn’t prioritize people who would be mad if anyone but Carano played Dune on The Mandalorian or Rangers of the New Republic. My point is that Disney would likely save itself a lot of grief by not doing anything else with the character at all. There’s no doubt that the path of least resistance for Disney would be to phase out the character completely, giving her a quiet off-screen exit, perhaps coupled with some brief exposition in season 3 regarding where she went. Done.
Is that fair to Cara Dune and the fans who see themselves in her? Cara quickly became a fan-favorite after her debut on the Star Wars live-action series as a fierce gun-for-hire who’s not quite a hero and is as prone to violence as Din Djarin but who will ultimately choose to do what’s right. Many have lauded Cara for the ways she breaks away from the “traditional mold” of female Star Wars characters who have come before, both in terms of her morally gray motivations and her buff appearance, which, as fans of The Last of Us II‘s Abby will tell you, remains a rarity in our entertainment.
Unlike Leia, Cara is a former Rebel shock trooper from Alderaan who didn’t immediately fall in line with the New Republic, preferring the chaos and danger of living in the Outer Rim than joining up with the new galactic government, which she felt wasn’t doing enough to quell the ever-present threat of the Empire that had destroyed her home planet. She preferred to brawl in cantinas and make her own way in the galaxy sans an official allegiance or badge, a lifestyle rarely lived by Star Wars‘ women — at least on screen. (In that way, Cara has much more in common with breakout Marvel comic book character Doctor Aphra.)
Sure, some of these traits began to change, but the show took its time developing Cara’s character, and by the time she did join the Republic’s law forces in the Outer Rim, it was after she’d witnessed many of the atrocities committed by what was left of the Empire. And even with the badge, she did some things on her own terms, like helping Mando and friends rescue Grogu from Moff Gideon.
To many, Cara has been a unique character worth following for years to come, whether it be on more seasons of The Mandalorian or in an eventual spinoff. Fans could perhaps still get that opportunity off-screen were Lucasfilm to continue Cara’s story in the books or comics, as it has with many other characters for over 40 years. It might just take some waiting.
But the mere fact that many fans want to see Cara’s story continue without the toxic presence of the actor who originally brought her to life is a testament to the power of the character herself. Like the best Star Wars characters, Cara seems to have staying power, and perhaps she deserves to outlive Gina Carano’s time with the franchise.
To The Mandalorian‘s credit, there are many other great female characters to look forward to on the show, including Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado), and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), who will actually star in The Book of Boba Fett later this year. (Please bring back Frog Lady, too.) They’re fantastic characters with their own motivations and stories, and I’d love to see more of them in season 3, but not all female characters are interchangeable and the other women in The Mandalorian’s world cannot replace Cara’s unique contributions to the show. They cannot simply “fill a spot” left behind by the last female hero, a character who was one of our first introductions on the show.
There’s perhaps no obviously right answer or course of action when things are still so raw and production is moving quickly on the next year of Star Wars stories. Does keeping Cara in Star Wars also ultimately mean that Lucasfilm is acknowledging Carano’s legacy with the franchise? Maybe. But should a great character that people look up to and relate to be allowed to exist beyond the bad decisions of an actor or its creator? Probably.
We only know this for sure: if you never see Cara Dune again in Star Wars, you only really have Gina Carano to blame.