Mandalorians. Warriors and hunters behind sturdy, customized armor and T-visor helmets. What makes a Mandalorian? And what makes someone not a Mandalorian? My fan theory posits that Jango Fett and Boba Fett were Mandalorians at a time, but certain events pushed them from a culture that once welcomed them…
The Mandalorians, a creed rather than a race or species in the Star Wars universe. Since his debut in the Star Wars Holiday Special, Boba Fett’s origins were a mystery. He was later given the origin story of being a clone of his father, Jango Fett, another bounty hunter who wears Mandalorian armor. For years, the pair were regarded as members of the Mandalorian creed and traditions due to their armor and skills in combat. But now, in the age of new Star Wars canon superseding Legends of old, this father and son pairing no longer belongs to the creed. What changed? Were the Fetts ever Mandalorians in the canon and they simply aren’t anymore?
What a Mando is (Legends and Mostly Canon)
In the years leading up to the canon reset, Legends Mandalorians had a rich warrior tradition that ran throughout dozens of comics and novels. They were conquerors, mercenaries, and bounty hunters who were constantly expanding by taking in new members during times of war and peace alike. This cemented a trait that would carry over into the new canon – Mandalorian isn’t a race, but a creed. In the new canon, however, many characters seem to disagree on what being a Mandalorian is. During the Clone Wars, a rift was created between warrior traditionalists, the exiled Death Watch, and the pacifist ideals of Duchess Satine Kryze. After the Galactic Civil War, the Mandalorians appear to be nearly destroyed by the Empire, and a reclusive sect of Mandalorian warriors venture out one at a time on the planet Nevarro to hide their numbers.
What do these vastly different groups have in common? The fearsome Death Watch, Clan Wren, and the Nevarro Mandalorian Covert all value their armor and weapons above seemingly any other posession. Armor is cast from nigh-indestructible beskar steel, and is painted, modified, and passed down for generations. The armor is an extension of the wearer, bearing clan insignias, signets representing hunts and honorable kills, and other personal and familial heraldry such as the mythosaur skull. Mandalorians also value their weaponry. Din Djarin, a lone Mandalorian bounty hunter, states weapons are part of his religion. Mandalorian warriors wield blasters just like anyone else in the galaxy, but also honed other tools in wars against the Jedi in the past. Jetpacks, flamethrowers, micro-missiles, cable launchers, and personal shields make each warrior deadly and unique, and their gear loadouts can be adapted to any task. This adaptability and nomadic nature stands at odds with the pacifist ideals of Satine Kryze during the Clone Wars, but all Mandalorians still value honor and keep their word. Whether it’s negotiations for or against Republic aid or gathering together to fight a common enemy, honor is key.
To expand their ranks, Mandalorians take on foundlings, or in normal speak – orphans. Mandalorians are again bound by a code of honor to take in orphans they meet after battle or on other missions, and the creed states they must reunite them with their people or take care of the foundling until they can handle life on their own. In season one of The Mandalorian, Din Djarin takes the Child, a member of Jedi master Yoda’s species, and is bound to return him to the Jedi that may or may not still exist as far as either of them know. Until then, the Child actually becomes a Mandalorian, and alongside Djarin they become a clan of two. Outside of procreation within the clans, where one is born Mandalorian, the only other way to become one is to be accepted into the tribes, clans, houses, and so on.
This raises questions once the bounty hunting Fett family is brought into the picture. If Jango Fett was a Mandalorian, it would stand to reason that Boba Fett, his cloned son, would be Mandalorian by default. But during the events of The Clone Wars, an adamant Prime Minister Almec of Mandalore insisted that Jango Fett was nothing more than a common mercenary with no official ties to Mandalore. This would, in turn, make neither Jango nor his son Mandalorians.
I wonder if Almec knows something that we, the viewers, never got to see. . .
Head Canon Fan Theory
In Legends and to a lesser extent Canon, the Mandalorians have fought against Force users over numerous conflicts. Many pieces of Mandalorian wargear – jetpacks, flamethrowers, missiles, shields, and tether cables – are used in direct response to countering and outgunning Force powers. This constant warring against the Jedi leads to a deep distrust, and the two groups rarely work together for the same goal. One example is defeating and capturing Maul during the Siege of Mandalore. But years later, Din Djarin would describe the Jedi as “enemy sorcerers.” I believe this distrust is key to why Jango Fett was, but no longer is, a Mandalorian. He was exiled for working with Force users.
In the Age of Republic one-shot comic series, Jango Fett gets his own issue that gives some of the details of Jango Fett’s recruitment by Darth Tyranus. Tyranus (or Count Dooku if you prefer) went to Jango and tempted him with the promise of not only funds, but a legacy. Millions of clone soldiers would be bred from his DNA, trained by other bounty hunters and Mandalorian warriors, and that legacy would all stem back to the one and only Jango Fett. For starters, I think the fact that legacy appeals to Fett so much strengthens his connections to Mandalore. Sure, a bounty hunter could want to leave a legacy behind, especially if they ask for a clone to raise as a child, but it would also make Fett immortal in the Mandalorian warrior tradition, surrogate father to millions of soldiers across the galaxy.
Jango Fett is offered the fee of twenty million credits in addition to gaining an unaltered clone to raise as his son. I imagine Jango went home to Concord Dawn near Mandalore with his substantial fee, not ready to retire but certainly celebrating his windfall. He still works in the bounty business despite being most likely set for life after his deal with Dooku. Legacy appeals to him too much to simply take a big payday and disappear. Again, legacy and reputation are more important than anything else to this man in Mandalorian armor. Reasonably speaking, someone is bound to discover Jango’s riches and start asking questions, and I think this news didn’t sit well with higher ups in Mandalorian society. Over night, a simple bounty hunter trying to make his way in the universe suddenly became rich.
It’s possible to me, at least as far as this theory goes, that Jango could have also been a Mandalorian Protector. The blue armor supports this, though there’s no canon source on what armor colors stand for at time of writing. I think it would give him more standing and reputation in Mandalorian society, which could also explain some of Almec’s accusations and contribute to Jango’s fall from grace.
So. Jango Fett is a Mandalorian Protector who also hunts bounties on the side. None of this was an issue until he turns up one day, twenty million credits richer, and people start asking questions. At this time, Almec is not prime minister but has a position of some signifigance. He has enough clout to investigate and call out Jango, inquiring about his sudden fortune. It’s at this point I think the truth comes out after some discussion. It is revealed that Jango has sold his DNA not only to the Republic – whom the Mandalorian government does not trust – but also to a Force user, Dooku, who plans to help breed illegitimate Mandalorian soldiers. Almec would run this information as far up the chain of command as he needs to, which could result in Jango Fett being exiled from the Mandalorian traditions, government, and society as a whole.
Striking one’s existence from the record has precedent in real life as well as other science fiction stories. The ancient Romans practiced laws surrounding condemnation of memory, which would later get the Latin name damnatio memoriae after further study. Under this practice, guilty parties were erased from history. It largely applied to artwork such as paintings and statues of a person being destroyed or reworked. This was before photographs, but would be similar to going into someone’s home, deleting all digital copies of photos, cutting their heads out of physical photos, and maybe going so far as to delete any artistic renderings on the refrigerator door. The practice of erasing someone from existence was rare, but also rare to track down due to the lack of paper and digital records in those times.
Bringing it back to science fiction, the Warhammer 40K universe has similar, religiously-charged cases of erasing people from existence. The Edict of Obliteration is an extreme form of punishment that removes an individual from history to preserve the honor of the Emperor (of this universe.) This edict was most famously applied to a pair of Primarchs, two of several genetically-modified clones of the Emperor – whose crimes were so heinous that everything about them was deleted from official records. As such, the long-lived Emperor is the only being still aware of what they did to deserve such a fate, and he speaks of it to no one.
Such an edict could easily be applied to Mandalorian culture and rules, especially among groups that adhere more strongly to tradition. I think it’s entirely possible that Almec saw Jango Fett’s actions as so reprehensible that he had to do something about it. And that something was wiping Fett from the slate entirely, banishing him from Mandalorian society. Fett would go on for a few more years, still hunting bounties to keep his skills sharp when he wasn’t contractually obligated to be on Kamino. He would even take on the assassination contract against Padme Amidala, and ultimately fail before losing his life in the first battle of the Clone Wars at Geonosis. He would do all this to preserve his personal honor, which was all that he had left, and to leave a lasting impression on Boba Fett, his only family in the galaxy.
Jango Fett would ultimately die an honorable death in battle, but likely take his banishment from Mandalorian tradition to the grave. Despite his pact with Dooku and secret involvment with the Republic, he would honor his dealings and family, raising Boba to use similar gear as well as a sharp tactical mind. Fett may not have died an official Mandalorian, but his traditional ways would live on through his son’s legacy as one of the galaxy’s greatest hunters, a hunter known to wear Mandalorian armor and never remove it (similar to Din Djarin.) But this is just a fan theory from a guy who over-analyses things that are left to mystery in the Star Wars universe. I theorize until given canon information, so take from this what you will.
Thanks for reading!
This is the way,