Binge wars: What makes The Mandalorian a better fantasy watch than The Witcher?
The verdict is out: Disney Plus' inaugral series The Mandalorian wins the mantle of the superiorly crafted series, over Netflix's The Witcher. But it's not just because Mando and his squad has the entire Star Wars' fandom on its side and has been created by Jon Favreau, who turns anything into gold. The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels has a lot going for it, too. The video game adaptation of the book has acquired a massive following over the years and it obviously had potential to be seriously big in the post Game of Thrones era, and yet the show couldn't exactly beat The Mandalorian as the next binging hot-stepper.
Both the shows focus on loner heroes, who form the last few surviving members of their race. Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) both travel to strange lands and while one of them is a bounty hunter and the other a monster-killer, they are both essentially survivalists. But The Mandalorian unravels like a stunning space Western, it's sharp, focused, not too many angles at play. Yet the narrative has strong ties to the Galactic empire and shows us exactly how a standalone anthology of a franchise so vast should be helmed.
The Mandalorian is intense, driven and unyieldingly devoted to his goal which is to deliver his target to The Client; he never takes his helmet off, is extremely loyal to his culture, despite having questionable morals. The fact that we never see Mandalorian's face obviously adds to the element of drama. There's also a buildability to his character, as it's quite nuanced.
Whereas Geralt's trajectory never really goes beyond the wary-but-will-fight monster killer trope. The character doesn't really let Cavill explore anything he hasn't already played on-screen. Geralt is quite literally a middle-earth Superman in a white wig and the script never takes him anywhere else.
Both the shows have an episodic progression; while Mando's job is keeping baby Yoda alive, his struggle feels more personal, despite the fact that we never see his face. His character is also much more textured, much like any Star Wars protagonist. In The Witcher the personal storylines of Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer are often frustratingly disconnected, especially in the first half; though Geralt and Ciri are said to have a connect that's pre-determined by destiny, it's never explored fully
Moreover, the makers of The Witcher seem to have taken the audience's grasp on the Witcher-verse for granted, especially as mutants, halflings, witches etc are casually introduced without any context on their history. The Mandalorian doesn't suffer from this problem as most viewers are obviously familar with Star Wars' genre and timeline.
The Witcher's entire imagery is also too close to Game of Thrones, while The Mandalorian brings in a significant change of pace, in story-telling and visuals. Plus, The Mandalorian, of course, has Baby Yoda - meme culture's biggest asset, and clearly this year's biggest pop icon, which makes the show a true-blue hit in the streaming circuit.