If you jumped really hard on that Disney+ launch, you may be familiar with The Mandalorian. Heck, even if you’ve watched TV or have spent any time online, you’ve probably at least caught wind of the show, which is the first live-action series in the franchise.
The Mandalorian is set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and follows a Manalorian bounty hunter and his exploits in the outer reaches of the New Republic. And while the show works to expand upon our knowledge of the Star Wars universe, it has also brought forth many questions. Among them, what are the Mandalorians to begin with?
Hint: they are not the same as midi-chlorians, which is good news for everyone.
What Are the Mandalorians?
First, Mandalorians are a race. Second, Mandalorians are mostly human. Post over, we can all go home.
Of course it’s not that simple, and we’ll get into how they fit into the Star Wars universe. The culture and whatnot of the Mandalorians has remained largely unexplored in the films and most of the canon Star Wars media (remembering that Disney kind of threw a lot of the expanded universe away). While nothing we say should spoil plot events or revelations in The Mandalorian, if you want to be as blind to them as Disney probably thinks you are, just keep this in mind.
A quick and basic overview of the Mandalorians is pretty easy to grasp. They’re a warrior race originating from the planet Mandalore. Comprised of multiple clans, they have a lot of notoriety as fighters who took on the Jedi. Throughout the history of Star Wars, the Mandalorians gained reputation stooped in armed conflict, even having their own set of interplanetary crusades.
Mandalorians and the Jedi
The Mandalorians were divided between multiple houses and clans, and they fought each other a lot. Divided, their planet Mandalore was writhed in conflict. Eventually however, they united, which is how they came to start the aforementioned space crusades.
So it was that they would come into conflict with the Jedi (which shouldn’t surprise you). It was here that the Mandalorians gained their reputation as Jedi hunters. With advanced technology on their side, skilled Mandalorians stood not only as equals against the Force-wielding Jedi–but sometimes as superiors.
After a while, the Mandalorians had a short-lived peace with the Jedi. One of them even was inducted into the Jedi Order. He was named Tarre Vizsla. In true Mandalorian fashion, Vizsla went ahead and made his own lightsaber, named the Darksaber (edgy, we know). It’s as edgy as it sounds too, the blade is literally black and it’s not a straight, cylindrical blade. It looks more like a thin machete.
Vizsla and the Darksaber became a Mandalorian icon, so Mandalorians were definitely not pleased when the Jedi stuck the Darksaber on Coruscant (that planet that’s basically all city).
We all know Mandalore was steeped in war and the different Mandalorian clans/houses interfought while also facing the Jedi. Eventually, the Old Republic and the Jedi would assault Mandalore itself. In the end, Mandalore and most of the Mandalorian controlled planets were assaulted from orbit; most of them reduced to uninhabitable deserts. Mandalore itself was also reduced to a barren wasteland from its former lush and forested landscape.
Fun fact, the bombardment is known as “The Excision,” though that has since become non-canon. Canonically, to Disney, there is no longer any foundation as to what happened to Mandalore. We just know that it was once lush, and now it’s not.
After that the Mandalorians found themselves in civil war and unable to launch any more crusades.
Jango Fett & Boba Fett
You may recognize Jango and Boba Fett as characters from the Star Wars movies that both wear Mandalorian armor. By proxy, you would not be mistaken for calling them Mandalorians. After all, considering the original 6 movies, they’re the only people in Mandalorian armor (something often coveted in the Star Wars universe).
You probably know that Jango Fett is the progenitor for the Clone Army throughout Star Wars, and by proxy the Stormtroopers used by the Empire. Boba Fett is a clone of Jango Fett.
Here’s where things get funky with Disney. According to Disney, Jango Fett is not a Mandalorian. The Mandalorian government disavows him and his actions, and Jango Fett is simply a pretender.
In the expanded universe, Jango Fett is in fact a Mandalorian, inducted into the order and all that.
So uh… Yeah. Thanks for that confusing tidbit, Disney.
There actually is a developed culture to the Mandalorians. They exist in a war-based hierarchy, their leader entitled “Mand’alor.” They even have their own kind of art. It’s not like an “original” art style–it’s based on a real art style–but Mandalorians do have their own distinct art within the Star Wars universe. It’s very cubist, for those who are fans of art history.
Of course, we can’t ignore how important war is in Mandalorian culture. Namely, it’s very important. Mandalorian armor is normally as important as the warrior inside of it, meant to inspire fear and intimidate others. Given the Mandalorian reputation for crusades, it probably wasn’t hard to do that.
This armor was very durable, and traditional Mandalorian armor would last centuries, passed from user to user as a kind of tradition. So when we say they respected their armor as much as the person inside, we weren’t kidding.
There’s also weapons, we’re not going to do much else with that except quote The Mandalorian. No, straight up, the protagonist says “I’m Mandalorian, weapons are part of my religion.”
Clearly, critics weren’t lying when they compared the titular Madalorian to an American gunslinger.
Honestly, we think it’s interesting how Boba Fett is so iconic despite only having so few lines. Here’s a quiz on them, there aren’t many.