With the new Disney+ show The Mandalorian, directed by Jon Favreau, there has been a lot of debate on who is an actual Mandalorian and who is not. This even includes the new Mando in the show, but the focus of the debate surrounds Jango and Boba Fett, mostly based on the books and games created throughout the years after Star Wars episodes four, five, and six were released. Considering these added stories created by licensed authors who were obviously big fans of the original series, Did George Lucas break his own fan’s rules of what a Mandalorian is when he created Jango? Did Jon Favreau break the so called “fan made canon?” The rules of fiction are not clear, but here is my take on who is and who isn’t a Mandalorian based on the evidence provided.
In an article written by Craig Elvy on screenrant.com, he makes the argument that neither of the Fett’s could possibly be Mandalorians. He references things like; Jango taking off his helmet, their religious attitude towards combat and hunting in regards to their code of honor such when the Mando in the show refuses to take credit for slaying a Mud Horn because Baby Yoda helped him in the battle by using the Force, as well as their ties to the Empire who has become known for the reason of the feud that dates back to their planet being forcibly placed under Imperial rule. Additionally, as far as the fan canon timeline goes, the new Mando was born during a time where no registered Mando was born. So the new Mando basically learned from nobody who could actually ever given him the title, nor did he ever take part in the initiation. However online canon in other articles does say he’s a Mandalorian for now. Elvy’s bases is that Jango is just a regular bounty hunter who stole his armor, and that if he ever was a Mandalorian, he’s long since abandoned that title by the time of the prequel trilogy.
The only valid argument that I believe Elvy’s article has about Boba is that Boba took a job for the empire, but you could also argue that he did so because he was already on a bounty for Solo and thought the empire could provide him with a lead. Other than that, there’s no telling if Boba as a child searched for and had training under a clan of real Mandalorians after his father died. As far as I know, there’s a big gap in his story between episode two and five giving Boba the decades of opportune time he would need to go through the initiation. Jango on the other hand is clearly not a Mandalorian based on what we know about the Mandalorians. Although, the controversial episode of The Mandalorian Chapter 11 might make somewhat of an argument for Jango’s legitimacy. It depends on where the show goes. Additionally, the Mandalorian’s own canon is guilty of having its own plot holes as both Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars include multiple episodes where Mandalorian characters such as Sabine Wren and the Death Watch remove their supposedly sacred helmets without consequence or controversy. Were they not real Mandalorians either?
Apparently George Lucas came out and said later on that both Fetts are not Mandalorians and requested that a dialogue line be added in the Clone Wars cartoon show when Obi-Wan Kenobi is speaking to the Prime Minister of Mandalore to solidify this. The character says that they have been peaceful people for thousands of years and are no longer warriors, denouncing the mention of Jango Fett as just simply a bounty hunter who happens to ware the Mandalorian armor. However, the mere existence of the new Mandalorian show seems to contradict this. Either this new Mandalorian and the Mandalorians in the show are not real Mandalorians or Jon Favreau and his team are ignoring the canon created by Clone Wars and the fan fiction. However, as a third possibility, according to parts of the “canon,” there was a civil war that caused Mandalore to split between those who sought a peaceful society and those who held on to their violent roots. This could explain why the Prime Minister of Mandalore rejected Jango Fett as one of their own in Clone Wars. Considering how religious and morally driven by their culture the Mandalorians in this new show are, it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t real Mandalorians.
Assuming the idea that Jango Fett isn’t an actual Mandalorian, it has become assumed that Boba Fett isn’t either. Partly because he’s Jango’s son, but more importantly to fans, he’s Jango’s clone. Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin claimed while responding to a fan query on Twitter that Boba Fett could not be a Mandalorian since he’s a clone of Jango. However, I fail to see what relevance being a clone has to do with being or becoming a Mandalorian. Based on the new show’s own rules, him being a clone is irrelevant. If Boba Fett had searched for, found, and was trained and initiated by a real Mandalorian clan from boyhood to adult, then by all intents and purposes Boba Fett would in fact be a real Mandalorian. Between Star Wars Episodes two and five, there’s too much of a gap to make any assumptions that this did or didn’t happen. In the new show, the Mandalorian was saved and adopted as a child by the Mandalorians. He was trained by them and grew up to become a Mandalorian himself. I believe that it is in the realm of possibility that Boba Fett had a similar path.
Jumping into this further, there are at least two big differences between Boba’s father and himself. Obviously we see Jango remove his helmet several times in Star Wars episode two, but Boba Fett never removes his which might suggest that he’s conscience of “The Way.” Secondly, Jango Fett’s armor has no signet on it, but Boba Fett’s does. A signet is a symbol determined from the damage dealt to a Mandalorian warrior’s armor. In the new show, the Mandalorian is asked by the Mandalorian Armorer if he has identified his signet yet while putting together new armor for him. After stating that he has not, the Armorer assures him that it will be revealed soon. A short time later, the Mandalorian’s signet was determined to be the mudhorn as he suffered extensive damage to his armor during a fight with one. He refuses as he felt he could not accept this signet because he was assisted by an enemy. Instead, the Armorer forged a whistling bird instead to be placed on the warrior’s armor. This suggests that the signet is required as a part of one of the stages of initiation to becoming a full Mandalorian. While Jango Fett lacks one for obvious reasons, Boba Fett carries one on his shoulder plate.
Though there were 100s of authored books created by licensed fans of the series post Star Wars episode six way before Disney got involved, some directly contracted through the Lucas Entertainment Company, they fall under the category of “fan made” which doesn’t necessarily make them law. Even the video games have fallen victim to this with the new films and shows changing the canon they previously established. Even if we take every bit of licensed Star Wars fiction as law, the Star Wars universe contradicts itself right and left with or without the inclusion of Disney’s added content. With a fictional universe so vast, it’s to obvious consequence that story laws will be bent in order to continue telling new stories. Fiction is inspired by fans, but the ultimate story decisions reside with the story tellers at that current time. This does not mean the fans will like their decisions though. Fans have decided the path of Star Wars with their comics, books, and games for the 20 years that George Lucas did nothing with it. This can be restricting to storytellers like Disney and even George Lucas himself, so it shouldn’t be surprising that The Mandalorian show breaks some rules set by fans. I do believe that Jon Favreau is doing his best to follow fan canon, but he’s forced to break some fan rules in order to accomplish certain things. Coming from a film background, I know the struggle that filmmakers have to keep a balance with their audience. I hate to say it, but if someone is to blame for this mess it would be the source of the content with George Lucas himself. He’s well known for being a sellout and by allowing all of these external pieces of fiction to be created, he kind of shot the Star Wars universe in the foot. But hey, he did create such an impactful world for us that we all become so passionate about miniscule arguments such as this debate on Boba Fett or who shot first with Han Solo and Greedo.
So far in the new show we have established that Boba Fett has made at least one appearance, separated from his armor. If he returns later in the show, maybe he’ll provide us with a better understanding of his background and potentially put the debate to rest for good. It would be pretty funny if after doing all this research and writing up this article, Boba Fett just walked up to the new Mandalorian and said, “no, I’m not a real Mandalorian.”
My final verdict is that Boba Fett and the new Mandalorian are real Mandalorians, but Jango Fett is arguably not unless the show can further clear up his history. What do you think? Is Boba Fett a real Mandalorian? What about Jango or this new Mandalorian? Feel free to make your own arguments in the comment section below.