A major element of the excitement for new Star Wars projects is the publishing of tie-in initiatives that accompany major releases.
Each of the films under Disney's Star Wars era have had waves of novels, comics, guides, and activity books connected at the hip, giving fans a more immersive experience in the galaxy far, far away. The same is the case for The Mandalorian.
Last Fall, Lucasfilm announced a publishing program tying into Disney+'s hit live-action series, though things have gone off with a bit of a hitch. While the Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 1's book was released as scheduled in December, Del Rey's adult title was delayed to this Fall, and The Ultimate Visual Guide by the Lucasfilm story group's Pablo Hidalgo may be suffering a worse fate than that...
Ziro.hu has updated their initial report via Star Wars News Net that the Star Wars: The Mandalorian - The Ultimate Visual Guide reference book has been canceled, citing the "multiple, interconnected series" that will be tied to the show as the primary reason:
"Our source has new information that explains somewhat the cancellation of the book. The Visual Guide was shut down at the last minute because the multiple, interconnected series coming to Disney+ requires a different strategy. Lucasfilm wants to have more control over the books. According to our source The Mandalorian: The Ultimate Visual Guide – or an updated and changed version – will not be released before 2022."
WHAT THIS MEANS
Should these reports prove to be true, this is incredibly disappointing news. The visual guide reference books have always provided great new details that enrich the projects they're accompanying, and with a world as vast as the first two seasons of The Mandalorian this undoubtedly would've been a similar situation.
That being said, a massive narrative is only just starting to unfold, as The Mandalorian expands into several spin-off series, and the Ultimate Visual Guide would, unfortunately, step on the toes of future projects or have to avoid major elements entirely to avoid potential spoilers. With The Book of Boba Fett coming in December, for instance, it would be very difficult to devote several pages to the notorious bounty hunter in the book without giving too much away for the upcoming show.
Presumably, Lucasfilm has learned a lesson from their visual guide ventures with the Sequel Trilogy films and is working to avoid scenarios that alter continuity. Because of the "pass the baton" approach taken with the latest set of movies, the visual guides were often evasive when it came to providing background but would at times reveal details that would later be contradicted by the subsequent films or other projects, such as Snoke's origins or the destruction of Luke Skywalker's temple.
There are rumors suggesting that the overall narrative jump-started by The Mandalorian won't culminate until 2027, leaving several years' worth of story to be covered. Beyond The Book of Boba Fett, we can expect Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic to also play heavy hands in the direction of the story, and there are surely many more shows to come that will add to whatever Lucasfilm's endgame is.
While it stinks that we won't be getting the fun tidbits that Hidalgo's title would have offered, it's ultimately for the greater good of The Mandalorian's narrative in the long run. Pages for characters like Fett, Ahsoka, and even Luke Skywalker would have been lacking in worthwhile information, leaving the guide with little more to do than provide nuggets on Peli Motto's pit droids or Kuiil's Blurrgs.
In good time, fans will get their visual guide. Who knows, maybe it will encompass all the projects under this timeline. That would truly be ultimate.
This is the way.