Editorial: Who is ‘The Mandalorian’?
In light of the recent news concerning the premise of the upcoming Star Wars live-action series, The Mandalorian, we thought it prudent to explore the possibilities surrounding the show, specifically with regard to Mandalorian culture and the identity of the show’s main character. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the show going in, and while many are excited for what’s in store, others (who are not the biggest fans of Mandalorian lore in Star Wars) have expressed their lament over having to tread down that road again. Fear not, Mando-haters, this will most likely not be a live-action rehash of the Mandalorian politics we got in The Clone Wars – and if my gut is correct on this – this show will have a little something for everyone.
When the title of the show was officially revealed last week, the show’s producer, Jon Favreau gave us a tease about what was to come. His words were a little vague, not revealing too much about the show’s characters or premise, but we do get a general idea of what to expect. Here’s what we know:
- The story is set during the time of the New Republic following The Return of the Jedi.
- We follow the main character, a lone gunfighter (presumably “The Mandalorian”) on his travails in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
- The gunfighter is a warrior in the vein of Jango and Boba Fett.
That’s it. That’s all we know. The possibilities are endless with where the story can take us. Still, many fans have expressed their disappointment over the show being based on the culture of Mandalore. However, in reality, an exploration of Mandalorian culture was never proposed or even implied by Favreau or the folks at Lucasfilm, so let’s not jump the gun here.
I admit that the title does seem to be taking us for a ride on that train of thought, but if you really look at the context of Favreau’s reveal, there is no basis for the show having anything to do with Mandalore itself. Rather, the show will be about a lone warrior who, like the Fetts before him, fancies to clad himself in the armor of the Mandalorians, an ancient and prideful warlike culture. The gunslinger may not even actually be a true Mandalorian, but with an awesome set of armor like that, a nickname like “the Mandalorian” was bound to stick regardless.
It should also be noted that although Jango Fett was at one time the leader of the Mandalorians in the Legends continuity, this aspect of Fett’s past is ambiguous in the official Star Wars canon. In the episode of The Clone Wars titled “The Mandalore Plot”, doubts are even raised about Fett’s true claim to Mandalorian lineage. Check out this exchange between Mandalore’s Prime Minister and Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Prime Minister Almec: “Master Kenobi, Mandalore’s violent past is behind us. All of our warriors were exiled to our moon, Concordia. They died out years ago.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Hmm. Are you certain? I recently encountered a man who wore Mandalorian armor, Jango Fett.”
Almec: “Jango Fett was a common bounty hunter. How he acquired that armor is beyond me.”
So, although Jango Fett (and later his son Boba) wore the armor of the Mandalorian culture, his actual claim to that heritage is disputed. It is possible that he was simply branded as a renegade and thus excommunicated from his own society, but for now, all we know is that he may or may not be an actual Mandalorian. This gives some precedent to the possibility that this new gunfighter character could literally be anyone.
Granted, he may be just what his name implies, a born and bred Mandalorian picking up the pieces of his life and moving forward after the fall of Palpatine’s Empire. If this is the case, then I imagine that some aspect of Mandalorian culture will be explored in the series. However, it could simply be that this lone warrior is completely unrelated to the Mandalorians apart from his appearance. In this instance, I imagine the show will have more of a wild west outlaw vibe than a storyline rich in deep cultural lore.
So who is this gunslinger? Do we know him already or is he a completely new character? Although the possibilites are endless, I have narrowed it down to three possibilities that I think are the most likely. First, let’s take a look at the most probable one.
- This new lone gunfighter is a totally new character.
I think this one makes the most sense for the Story Group. This option would serve the purpose of giving fans old and new something fresh with an all-new character to pull for. This would require little to no previous knowledge of Star Wars as this character would not be beholden to any preset backstory. This approach would also have something for the hardcore fans, linking the gunfighter to the Fett legacy and the Mandalorians without ever having to dig too deep.
- The gunfighter is Cobb Vanth, a mysterious self-appointed lawman on Tatooine first introduced in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy of novels.
In the books, there are interludes between some of the main chapters that focus on various characters in different parts of the galaxy. In one of those interludes, we are introduced to a man named Cobb Vanth who wears a very familiar set of armor which he acquired from Jawa merchants. It is also revealed in another interlude that the Jawas recovered the armor from a Sarlaac. We are led to believe that its former wearer was able to cut himself free from the beast, and for reasons unknown left his armor behind. It should be noted that the gunfighter is not wearing Fett’s armor in the revealed image from the show, but perhaps by this point he has ditched the old and donned a new set in the same style. Curious…
- The show’s protagonist is actually Boba Fett.
When talking to what would become the Lucasfilm Story Group about where to take future stories in the franchise, George Lucas himself stated that the Sarlaac is not where his story ends. While nothing’s been explicitly stated in the canon about how Fett escaped from the belly of the beast, the Aftermath interludes with Cobb Vanth imply that Fett is alive and well even though he remains unseen. Leaving his armor behind, it would seem that he has set out to find a new life. Perhaps he is still partial to the Mando style, hence the new duds. Aside from the high probability that Fett is alive in this time period, the previous attempt to develop a Boba Fett standalone film from Josh Trank proves that Lucasfilm is interested in exploring the character a little further, as does the talk of a new take on that idea from James Mangold being on the cards. (Mangold has since stated that he’s not working on the project right now, which was never officially announced and/or dated by Lucasfilm.) Even if he’s not the main character, I don’t think they’ll pass up the opportunity to at least include him in some way. What’s Temuera Morrison doing these days? Somebody at LFL needs to be picking up that phone if they haven’t already.
Fans who’ve been following the development of unreleased Star Wars media over the last several years are probably aware that George Lucas himself had plans for a live-action Star Wars show for premium cable that then-producer Rick McCallum referred to as “Deadwood in space”. As it turns out, Lucas had quite a bit more going for the show (titled Star Wars: Underworld) than just a concept, having already fully written one-hundred of the show’s planned four-hundred episodes. I could definitely see the new show having a similar vibe to what Lucas was going for with Underworld, and it will be interesting to see how much his ideas influenced this show down the line.
Along with Underworld, fans should also bear in mind the unreleased video game, Star Wars: 1313, a game from LucasArts that was to be the first M-rated video game in the Star Wars franchise. The game even went as far as having a playable demo, but unfortunately never saw the light of day when development was ceased after the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney.
The rumor was that the game would tell the story of how a young Boba Fett came to be the most fearsome bounty hunter in the galaxy. Obviously, that’s not what we’re getting here, as the timeline is completely different, but it’s possible that concepts from the game will find their way into The Mandalorian, especially given Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s comments about how much time they’ve spent going over these unused concepts and stories from the Lucas era.
So what do you think about the upcoming television series, Star Wars’ first real venture into live-action storytelling on the small screen? What will it be about? Is the protagonist a brand new character or someone familiar? How much will Mandalorian culture factor into the story? Will Boba Fett make an appearance? So many questions. So many possibilites. Until next time, may the Force be with you, always…
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.