This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian‘s latest episode, “The Siege,” is a mostly entertaining action romp through Nevarro that gives fans more clues as to what the Empire is planning for the Outer Rim. The episode is also an opportunity for Mando and Baby Yoda to reunite with season one allies Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed the episode) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano). But, while the “getting the band back together” feel of the episode generally works in its favor, many Star Wars fans are dismayed by Carano’s return to the show.
The actor and former MMA fighter has quickly become one of the most controversial figures currently working in Star Wars, which has left many fans conflicted about how to celebrate the importance of her character while also separating Cara from Carano herself. Much of the debate between fans who support Carano and those who are petitioning for Disney to fire her from the show (using the #FireGinaCarano hashtag) stems from the views the actor has shared on Twitter.
For the past few months, Carano has used her Twitter handle to question Covid-19 mask mandates meant to protect people from a pandemic that has already killed over one million people around the world, posting conspiracy theories and memes that question a proven preventative measure that can slow the spread of the virus. Just days before “The Siege” aired on Disney+, Carano posted a meme suggesting that “Democratic Government Leaders” would soon “recommend we all wear blindfolds along with masks so we can’t see what’s really going on.”
She’s also been dismissive of adding pronouns to her Twitter bio in solidarity with the trans community, at one point using the words “boop/bop/beep” in her profile name to seemingly mock those who use pronouns.
“They’re mad cuz I won’t put pronouns in my bio to show my support for trans lives. After months of harassing me in every way. I decided to put 3 VERY controversial words in my bio.. beep/bop/boop,” Carano tweeted after her stunt was criticized by the Star Wars community. “I’m not against trans lives at all. They need to find less abusive representation.”
Carano later took down the joke, explaining that she’d spoken with The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal (who does use pronouns in his bio) about the meaning of the gesture.
“Yes, Pedro & I spoke & he helped me understand why people were putting them in their bios,” she tweeted. “I didn’t know before but I do now. I won’t be putting them in my bio but good for all you who choose to.”
After Carano declined to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in August, she was praised by alt-right site Breitbart for “refusing to buckle and bow to the woke social media,” according to Vanity Fair.
“In my experience, screaming at someone that they are a racist when they are indeed NOT a racist & any post and/or research you do will show you those exact facts, then I’m sorry, these people are not ‘educators.’ They are cowards and bullies,” Carano tweeted at the time.
Most recently, Carano has shared conspiracy theories about unproven claims of widespread voter fraud in the aftermath of the US general election and has also announced that she’s joined Parler, a “free speech” social media site that’s quickly become a haven for right-wing extremists.
“We need to clean up the election process so we are not left feeling the way we do today,” she wrote in a recent tweet. “Put laws in place that protect us against voter fraud. Investigate every state. Film the counting. Flush out the fake votes. Require ID. Make Voter Fraud end in 2020. Fix the system.”
What’s all the more alarming about Carano’s dangerous rhetoric is the importance of her character, a rare female hero in Star Wars who doesn’t conform to the traditional gender roles or body type usually represented in the movies. On The Mandalorian, Cara Dune is a muscular ex-Rebel shocktrooper who likes a fight, especially when it means punching fascist Imperials in the face. After the end of the war, Cara chose the mercenary life over the New Republic but eventually settled down on Nevarro as its marshal.
Along the way, Cara has teamed up with Mando, a character who, despite being from an isolationist warrior cult, has shown himself to be surprisingly accepting and supportive of other cultures and belief systems, even learning to communicate with Tusken Raiders, a race often depicted as savage and cruel in Star Wars. In “The Marshal,” for example, we watch as Mando encourages Cobb Vanth to be more respectful of Tusken traditions and customs.
Pascal, who has been very vocal in his support of BLM and trans rights, is certainly a better example of the message of inclusivity Star Wars has tried to promote in its latest stories. Meanwhile, Carano has failed to grasp the message altogether, arguably resembling someone in the Star Wars galaxy more likely to wonder on the HoloNet whether the Empire was really all that bad.
If calls for Carano’s firing lead to Disney removing her from the show, the Star Wars community could lose something important in the process: a mold-breaking character (at least in this saga) that many fans have seriously connected with. The better solution might be to recast Cara Dune, replacing Carano with a new actor while keeping the fan-favorite character.
“The Siege” subtly suggests that Cara might be ready to make a change, as she considers whether to join the New Republic’s ranks. While it’s just as possible that this could provide an easy way to write Cara off the show, a change of this magnitude to the character could also make it easier to recast the actor. This wouldn’t be the first time a popular TV show has recast a major character after all, even if recasting hasn’t happened very often in Star Wars.
Whatever happens to Cara Dune, it’s clear that we should be able to expect more from the actors who bring our favorite characters to life. Or at least the bare minimum — like not discrediting science in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
Keep up with all of The Mandalorian season 2 news here.