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The Mandalorian: Gina Carano joins cast of Star Wars series

The Mandalorian just added some serious muscle.

MMA fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano has joined the cast of the Star Wars spin-off series, which is set to debut next year on the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service. Details about her role are thus far being kept under wraps. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to break the news.

Carano will star alongside Pedro Pascal, who — as we recently reported — has been cast as the series' lead. Jon Favreau, who directed the first two Iron Man films and has continually popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as perpetually put-upon Tony Stark associate Happy Hogan, is serving as an executive producer, and will pen the series. An impressive stable of directors has also been lined up, including Bryce Dallas Howard (who has dabbled in directing in the past) and Taiki Waititi, who helmed 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. 

Carano's casting further cements the notion that The Mandalorian will feature plenty of action. A Muay Thai fighter, she enjoyed a years-long career in competitive butt-kicking, amassing a 12-1-1 Muay Thai record and a 7-1 record in Mixed Martial Arts. She first dipped her toes into the Hollywood pool with an appearance in the (very) little-seen 2009 direct-to-video boxing drama Blood and Bone, before landing a role in the 2011 Steven Soderbergh actioner Haywire. This led to higher-profile roles in Fast & Furious 6 and as the villainous Angel Dust in Deadpool, in which she quite convincingly portrayed an enhanced brawler who could go toe-to-toe with Colossus. 

With her impressive physique and action bonafides, Carano is an inspired choice for The Mandalorian. While the level of secrecy surrounding the project has been extreme even by Star Wars standards, hardcore fans know that the titular race — which features prominently in the Clone Wars animated series — are a violent, warlike people who habitually run afoul of the Republic. Of course, it's not known if Carano's character will hail from Mandalore herself — but whether she ends up being friend or foe to Pascal's protagonist, it stands to reason that the character will be a physical force to be reckoned with.

According to Disney's synopsis, the series "is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic." The much-anticipated series will be a big audience draw in what is shaping up to be a formidable selection of original content to be rolled out on Disney+. It joins an as-yet untitled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story spin-off focused on the character of Cassian Andor, along with an MCU-set limited series featuring beloved antihero Loki. Diego Luna and Tom Hiddleston will reprise their respective roles from the films in those series. 

Only time will tell if Disney+ turns out to be the Netflix killer that the House of Mouse is hoping for, but one thing is clear: if the mind-blowing announcements surrounding its original offerings keep coming this fast and furious, the most dominant streaming service the world has ever seen might not retain its dominance for much longer. 

Disney+ will debut in late 2019.