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The Mandalorian season 3 doesn’t completely write off Gina Carano’s Cara Dune

‘Marshal Dune’ was a key player, but controversy’s keeping her out of the galaxy

Cara Dune and Greef Karga in season 2, episode 4 of The Mandalorian, walking down the main street in Navarro Image: Lucasfilm
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

The Mandalorian season 3 is here after a two-year hiatus, and in episode 1, creator Jon Favreau devotes most of the run time to reintroducing the players and setting up new stakes. Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin is back with Grogu after picking him up from Babysitter Luke Skywalker (a whole thing that happened in The Book of Boba Fett), and in the premiere, the duo returns to Nevarro to find their ol’ chum Greef Karga in charge and revitalizing the planet. But after a brief run-in with space pirates, Greef admits: He could really use another gun by his side. His marshal, Cara Dune, found new work — and actor Gina Carano, who played Cara in the first two seasons of the show, was shown the door out of the Star Wars universe.

What happened to Marshal Dune? Greef explains to Din halfway through the episode: “After she brought in Moff Gideon” — Giancarlo Esposito’s Empire-affiliated, Darksaber-swinging baddie from season 2 — “she was recruited by special forces.”

Star Wars fans might hear that line and think The Mandalorian team might be teeing her up for a role on the previously announced Lucasfilm Disney Plus project Rangers of the New Republic, but in reality, the premiere’s Poochie moment is the last beat of an ugly and unfortunate parting of ways between Disney and Carano.

During the 2020 run of The Mandalorian season 2, Carano caused a stir after refusing to include her personal pronouns in her Twitter bio — a practice commonly seen as a way to support trans and nonbinary people — saying the pressure to do so led to harassment. While the MMA fighter turned actor later apologized, saying that Pascal “helped [her] understand why people were putting them in their bios,” her social and political views would cause greater turbulence in the weeks ahead. In February 2021, Carano reshared an Instagram story post (since deleted) likening the protest she faced from fans over her beliefs to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Her post was immediately met with pushback suggesting the comparison itself was antisemitic. The uproar saw hashtag #FireGinaCarano almost immediately trend across Twitter, prompting Lucasfilm to make a statement about her future in the Star Wars series.

“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson said in a statement at the time. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Lucasfilm’s low-key offloading of Carano was met with its own culture-war fury, and in the months to come, pariah status would turn her into a viable star in a different sector of show business. Later in 2021, the actor hitched her wagon to conservative media company The Daily Wire, which planned to leverage her controversial star power in a right-leaning Western, Terror on the Prairie. She also boarded My Son Hunter, a factually dubious chronicling of President Biden’s son, whose documented drug-related incidents made him fodder for conservative news outlets. Terror on the Prairie was released directly on The Daily Wire (with a theatrical run in Russia) in June 2022, while My Son Hunter earned a small domestic theatrical run from Breitbart News that September. Carano is currently attached to White Knuckle, a serial-killer thriller that’s been in development since 2021. Not quite Star Wars.

The one thing The Mandalorian season 3 premiere did not do was kill off Marshal Dune. Somewhere, Cara is still out there, busting skulls in the name of what is right. But for the foreseeable future, Lucasfilm doesn’t need Carano to keep her spirit alive in the Star Wars universe.