Just about every Star Wars fan can agree that Boba Fett is a badass. I would bet money that even Star Trek fans like him. Armed with minimal screen time and no more than five seconds of dialogue, Fett still managed to blast straight into the hearts of fans ever since his first appearance on the bridge of Darth Vader’s flagship, The Executor. When Vader said to his group of bounty hunters, “No disintegrations. I want him alive,” he specifically pointed to Fett. Clearly the man has a reputation.
Given our favorite bounty hunter’s uncanny amount of fan mania, it’s no mystery why Mandalorians, the Spartan-like race of warriors Fett calls kin, are so popular among fans of the Legends universe. (Am I using the legends thing right? I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that.) Clearly the powers that be at Lucasfilm and Disney are aware of the Mandalorian craze, as Mr. Fett is getting his own movie and an art-loving female Mando by the name of Sabine has been cast among the cast of characters in the upcoming TV show, Star Wars: Rebels.
But what are Mandalorians? Where did they come from and how does Boba Fett fit into their mythos?
The Mandos descend from an ancient race called the Taung. The Taung cohabited the now city planet of Coruscant alongside the humans who lived there before the Galactic Republic began, and the two groups were always at war. Eventually, the humans drove the Taung off of Coruscant, banishing them to the nearby world of Roon. It is on Roon that the Taung became Mandalorians.
A great warrior, Mand’alor, meaning “sole ruler,” in the Mando’a language, rose to lead the Taung in the conquest of a new world where they defeated countless monsters and enemies. So beholden and proud of their leader were the Taung, that they gave him the title Mandalore the First and named their newly conquered planet and their race after him.
After capturing their new homeworld of Mandalore, they set out to challenge the entire galaxy to war in the Mandalorian Crusades. Soon, the Taung branched out and allowed anyone to become a Mandalorian as long as they devoted themselves to combat and glory. Though violent, they were a democratic people.
War and conquest are values both Mandalorians and Sith hold in high regard, and there have been many instances of Mandalorians going toe-to-toe with some of the strongest Sith alive and holding their own: Darth Maul vs. Pre Viszla, Mandalore the Indomitable vs. Ulic Qel Droma, and Boba Fett vs. Darth Vader to name just a small few.
This shared love of bloodlust has led the two groups to join forces against the Republic and the Jedi many times. Some argue that another reason the Mandalorians ally themselves with the Sith is because they are the strongest of the force wielders. Others say the Mandalorians truly ally with the Sith because their ultimate honor is fighting and defeating a trained Jedi Knight. Only by fighting beside the Sith can they have this glorious opportunity.
However, as beneficial for their love of war as the Sith are, the Mandalorians have been manipulated by the Sith time and time again.
Master Gnost-Dural, chief historian of the Jedi Order of the Old Republic, theorizes that it was the Emperor of the old Sith Empire, the instigator of the Great War (which takes place in the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic), that manipulated Mandalore the Ultimate into attacking the Republic and beginning what would be known as the Mandalorian Wars.
Many suspect that the old Sith Empire orchestrated the rise of the Mandalore that would lead the warrior race into the Great War with the Sith. This leader would be forever known as Mandalore the Lesser for being a pawn in the Emperor’s game. Inserting the Mandalorians into the war gave the Sith the upper hand in the conflict with the Republic for a while, until Mandalore the Lesser began losing respect among his people faster than he could lose battles.
To respond to this growing disquiet, Mandalore began the competition of the Great Hunt, a galaxy spanning bounty hunting competition pitting the greatest hunters together. But the outcome of this hunt was not what the Lesser had planned. The winner of the fight challenged him to single combat for the title of Mandalore, defeated him, and named himself Mandalore the Vindicated. Not-so-mysteriously, the relationship between the Mandalorians and Sith was much cooler afterwards.
Though the Sith manipulation of Mandalorians in the Great War was terrible, it paled in comparison to the way Mandalorians were treated in the Clone Wars.
As if thousands of years of proving themselves as warriors was not enough, one of the ultimate tests of the Mandalorian ability to make war was the onset of the Clone Wars. Count Dooku took great care in choosing Jango Fett, the greatest bounty hunter of his time and our man Boba’s father, for the clone template that would create the Grand Army of the Republic. In order to earn this privilege and prove his worth to Dooku, Jango faced and completed the challenge of seeking out and destroying the fallen Jedi Komari Vosa.
Jango did much more than serve as the template of the clone army. He took part in the design of the Phase I clone armor, worn by the troops in the Battle of Geonosis in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. He also personally oversaw the training of the Alpha-class Advanced Recon Commandos (ARC) intelligence unit and took broad control of the training of the entire army.
With Mandalorian training came Mandalorian values. As the clones developed their own culture, they began to imbibe it with Mandalorian culture. They used Mando’a in their every day conversation. They adorned the armor of their greatest warriors with Mandalorian symbols.
Though clones, they were still people. Even so, they were often treated like meat, mostly by their Kaminoan creators. The original Null-class ARC troopers were almost executed when they revealed a tendency towards unpredictable and rebellious behavior. One batch of clones came out with less than 20/20 vision. They disappeared late one night without explanation.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the clone army was the imprint in their genetic code of Order 66 which, once triggered, would force the clone fighters to turn on their Jedi commanders. These clones were created to start a war meant to bring one man to power, eradicate an army of Jedi, and impose martial law on a galaxy. And they had been told their whole lives that they would be soldiers and heroes like their Mandalorian ancestors before them.
So if you’ve been looking at Star Wars and you feel that there is a gladiator/space warrior piece missing, look no farther than the continuing story of the Mandalorians. Their story began with the cynical and silent Boba Fett, and there is no telling where it will end.