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Ever since we met Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, he's become one of the most popular characters in the history of the Star Wars franchise. He was known as a Mandalorian, and so this race of people we knew little about for a long time became equally exciting. Now, there's an entire Disney+ show dedicated to a Mandalorian, and as news continues to drop for the adventure drama's second season, one has to hope that the creative team is planning to include a clarification of exactly who and what the hell Mandalorians even are. Because honestly, it doesn't make a lot of sense right now.
Looking at the history of the various characters called Mandalorians throughout Star Wars canon, from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones through The Mandalorian Season 1, we're talking about barely more than three decades of time. Yet the changes that seem to take place in that brief period are quite massive. Let's talk about what we know, and what we don't.
Jango Fett Is A Mandlorian, Or Not
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones introduced Jango Fett, who both wore Mandalorian armor and was referred to as a Mandalorian. He was such a fierce warrior that his DNA was used as the basis for the Republic's Clone Army. As part of his payment, he took one of the clones that wasn't artificially aged like the rest of the army, and raised him as a son, whom he called Boba. Boba Fett, of course grew up to become the beloved bounty hunter who will apparently be making a return to Star Wars canon in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, even though he appeared to die in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi.
This would all be fairly simple enough, probably, except that in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which chronologically follows Attack of the Clones, we were told that Jango Fett actually wasn't a Mandalorian. He's instead called a "common bounty hunter," and we were told Jango must have obtained his Mandalorian armor through some less-than-proper means.
Mandalore During The Clone Wars
The planet Mandalore was once home to a warrior race that wore the specific armor we know to be Mandalorian. But by the time of the Clone Wars, Mandalore had embraced peace, and the warriors of the planet were banished, to the point where it was believed at the time they'd all actually died out. Which, to return to the aforementioned point, confirmed Jango Fett wasn't Mandalorian.
We learn later, though, that these beliefs weren't entirely founded on truth. There were still Mandalorian warriors who wanted to return Mandalore to its old ways, this included group called Death Watch, but they were viewed as traitors and terrorists by the people of the planet. However, over the course of just a few years, this all changeed in a major way.
Bo-Katan, sister of the Mandalorian chancellor who was once part of Death Watch, ended up as Mandalore's leader at the end of the Clone Wars. However, her reign was somewhat short. By the time we get to Star Wars Rebels, taking place only five years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, Mandalore looked much like we might expect. Everybody was wearing Mandalorian armor and seemed to be a trained fighter to one degree or another. It's maybe not the most surprising change, considering what Mandalore went through in the 15 years after The Clone Wars started, but it was still a major change in a short period of time that appears to have encompassed the entire culture.
Mandalorian Is A Creed, Not A Race
Perhaps the most noteworthy example here is the shift in the definition of the word Mandalorian that takes place over the next decade and a half in the Star Wars timeline. Between the end of Star Wars Rebels, five years before the battle of Yavin, and The Mandalorian's first season set less than a decade later, the idea of what it means to be a Mandalorian drastically changed. For instance, the titular hero in the Disney+ series isn't even native to Mandalore, and not only that, but this fact isn't even shocking to everybody else!
The idea that being Mandalorian is a creed, and not a race, apparently wasn't entirely widespread, but it was also not a heavily hidden secret. Certainly at the beginning of all this, being a Mandalorian was considered a race issue. It was the name of a people from a particular star system, so how is that no longer the case? When exactly did this change happen?
Of course, the most recent news about The Mandalorian's upcoming season is that Katee Sackhoff will play the live-action version of Lady Bo-Katan (an announcement made just after I'd started writing this piece). The casting might indicate that the above questions will be answered in the new season. After all, who better to clarify the history of the Mandalorians (the followers of the creed) than a Mandalorian (a citizen of a planet)? Bo-Katan has basically been around since the beginning of this whole story, and so she'll know everything we don't, hopefully.
Of course, Bo-Katan isn't the only one fans will reportedly see in the new show. Boba Fett himself will be back, which opens up another can of worms. If Jango Fett was truly not a Mandalorian, then does the same hold true for Boba? Did he ipso-facto become a Mandalorian by following the creed? Or was Jango actually a Mandalorian by birth, but just one who didn't embrace the way of his people at the time?
And if Jango was a Mandalorian, then is Boba also one by birth, by way of being Jango's clone? If he is, then that means that Captain Rex and Commander Cody must also be Mandalorians, right? That opens up its own interesting line of questioning: did the existence of the clones in any way cause this shift in what it means to be Mandalorian?
It's all very confusing. In the grand scheme of things, for those who simply enjoy watching Star Wars as it comes, this isn't that important, but for those who truly enjoy the larger story of the galaxy, far, far, away, it would be nice to get some clarification here. As Star Wars continues to expand its universe on the small screen, there will be new plenty of new questions, but let's maybe get some answers first.
Stay tuned for the October premiere of The Mandalorian on Disney+, and keep an eye out for more casting news from the Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi series as the announcements go live.