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The Mandalorian Debate

Let me set the stage for you. 30 years ago this summer, the second film in the Star Wars Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, was released. Arguably one of the most anticipated movies of all time, Empire had everything you remembered from Star Wars; the characters, the vehicles, lightsabers, and the Force! But there were also new elements! And maybe the most alluring and exciting of them all was the mysterious bounty hunter known as Boba Fett!

Ever since that fateful day, people have wanted to know more about Fett. Of course, this wasn’t the first time we’d seen him. He made an appearance in animated form in the infamous Holiday Special. But he wasn’t nearly this badass. The first tidbit of info we got on the mysterious gun-for-hire came in the novelization of Empire. A single, throw-away line referencing his armor as being that of the Mandalorians, who had once fought a war against the Jedi and lost. Kind of reminds you of a line from the first Star Wars, that mentions a little something called The Clone Wars.

As the years went on, authors and artists started to piece together the history of Boba Fett: The Galaxy’s Greatest Bounty Hunter! As the story goes, he was a Journeyman Protector (Whatever that is…) named Jester Mereel, from the planet Concord Dawn. Somewhere along the line, something tragic happened, and he turned to the mercenary ways we’re so familiar with. He had a throwdown or two with Han Solo and Chewbacca here and there, and he and Vader had a showdown on a molten planet, after a deal gone wrong with the Empire. All in all, a pretty epic and storied past, worthy of the masked merc. And the best part; although we got glimpses of his past, we’d never gotten the full story. But all that was going to change…

Jango Fett and his Clone counterparts from Episode II

In 2002, Lucas released the second in his new trilogy of Star Wars films, Attack of the Clones. In it, we find out that Boba Fett is actually a clone of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, the clone template of the Republic’s new army. As you can imagine, this sent the whole fan community into an uproar. Now not only did we have Baby-Vader in the form or Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace, but we’ve also got Baby-Fett! Not only that, but now all that previous history makes no sense. Entire trilogies of books are rendered moot, because George Lucas decided that he wanted to tell Fett’s story now? It hardly seemed fair, but we took it all in stride and moved on.

Ralph McQuarrie's original concept for Fett

Ralph McQuarrie's original concept for Fett

It was in a movie, written and directed by Lucas himself. And it matched up with the backstory Lucas had originally planned for the character, which was corroborated by Ralph McQuarrie’s art of Boba in a solid white set of armor, clad in a Clint Eastwood style poncho. Fett was originally intended to be a rogue stormtrooper, who were in fact, clones from the bygone wars of the Old Republic. And in any case, we ended up with the Clone Troopers, who were like an entire army of Boba Fett’s crossed with Stormtroopers. In the end, we got a pretty sweet deal out of the whole fiasco.

Best of all, there was a video game about these clones, called Republic Commando. They managed to take the clones, who were already awesome, and beef ’em up even more! And better yet, there was a novel to go along with it!

Concept art of the Republic Commandoes

Concept art of the Republic Commandoes

The author of Republic Commando: Hard Contact, Karen Traviss, did an excellent job of fleshing out the Mandalorian culture we had only been given snippets of up until that point. Not only that, but she managed to put down on paper, a fully funtioning language for them, releasing it to the fans for consumption; something nobody had ever done before in the Star Wars Universe. The Mando’s were now our Klingons. We could speak their language and memorize their warrior code of honor! All was right in the SW Universe, and we revelled in our own geekdom.

But Lucas wasn’t done yet. After 6 years, 3 more Republic Commando novels, and several other Mando contributions by Karen Traviss, GL decided to go more in depth with The Clone Wars in an animated series titled after the epic battles. In 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars began airing on Cartoon Network, and the fan community went crazy for it. Some whackos even started producing podcasts about it… Once again, we were glad to get more of what we loved; Star Wars!

It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that the rumblings began. It seemed like bounty hunters were going to be playing a big part in the second season of Clone Wars. Most notable were screens of what appeared to be… Mandalorians!?! But wait, according to the in-depth history of the Mandalorians, they were all but extinct. Only a few mercenaries still walked around calling themselves Mando’a, and it was clear that many of them were impersonators. How could they feature heavily in a series that takes place during the Clone Wars?

Traviss was furious, and for good reason. All of her work had been trampled directly over, in favor of a tactic that would sell more toys. Apparently, GL had a vision of what Manadlore looked like, and how their culture worked way back in the 70’s, and he was going to fulfill that vision through The Clone Wars, no matter the cost. So began The Travissty.

The Mandalorian Death Watch from Star Wars: The Clone Wars

And that’s where we sit. The 3 episode arc featuring the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine Kryze, a PACIFIST, has concluded. The Mandalorian warrior culture has been reduced to a sect called Death Watch. Snippets of dialogue indicate that Jango Fett wasn’t even a true Mandalorian, and so neither is Boba. and worst of all, the Mando culture is based on the strangest concept of any of GL’s uni-climate worlds; Cubism? They’re Cubists… That’s Boba Fett’s heritage. An art style. A word to the wise, George; if you’re going to obliterate the hard work of hundreds of writers and artists over 3 decades, at least have the decency to come up with something better than what they created.

The "Cubist" world of Mandalore

But in the end, he is the Creator, and what he says, goes. So like it or hate it, this is the continuity we’re stuck with. Now we just have to sit back and wait for him to tell us that Han Solo didn’t shoot first, and that his blaster is just loaded with sugarplums and gumdrops.

This is a debate though, so jump in on the conversation and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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  • Reply DrNicket

    Few franchises (if any other) had worked so hard to maintain a Canonical thread throughout the many facets of the franchise. Not even Star Trek made much of an attempt.

    To see such blatant disregard for what is arguably the largest sci-fi/fantasy franch’ in the world… Oh well. Not a whole heck of a lot we can do other than speak our minds, sit down, shut up and enjoy the show (or book).

    March 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm
  • Reply Shemp

    This is why I had to let go of the extended universe stuff. If Lucas isn’t going to respect it, then it won’t be canon. And if it’s not canon, then why follow it? He’s degraded its value to that of fanfic!

    March 19, 2010 at 12:44 am
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