What is a Mandalorian?

As the Disney+ series comes to the UK, it's time for a Mandatory Mandalore-splain of Star Wars' coolest antiheroes

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Pedro Pascal is the Mandalorian and Horatio Saenz is the Mythrol in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+

With Disney+’s The Mandalorian finally coming to the UK, it’s high time to find out more about this mysterious group of warriors and bounty hunters from the Star Wars universe. Who or what is a Mandalorian? Where are they from? Why do they wear that armour, and how many of them have we met in the Star Wars universe?

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We try to answer all your burning questions below.

What is a Mandalorian?

Emily Swallow is the Armorer in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+
Emily Swallow is the Armorer in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+

The Mandalorians are a fictional warrior religion/society from the Star Wars film series and TV shows, hailing from a planet called Mandalore and known for their status as feared fighters, mercenaries and bounty hunters as well as their distinctive armour (which they can’t remove in the presence of others at any time). Mandalorians aren’t a species, but various individuals who follow a particular “creed” – in other words, anyone could become one if they immerse themselves in the culture that began on Mandalore.

The first Mandalorian seen in the Star Wars universe was bounty hunter Boba Fett, whose distinctive armour and attitude made him a fan favourite despite minimal appearances in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi. But at the time, he wasn’t a Mandalorian – the term Mandalorian is never uttered in the films, but the popularity of Fett inspired numerous works creating a backstory for his society in other parts of the Star Wars franchise.

The Mandalorians debuted by name in Star Wars #68 “The Search Begins”, a comic book published by Marvel in 1983, which described Boba and another character, Fenn Shysa to be among the super-commandos – the official defenders of Mandalore. Later, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002) introduced bounty hunter Jango Fett, who also wore Mandalorian armour and served as the genetic model for Boba Fett (his “father”) and the Republic’s entire clone army.

Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels
Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels

Since then spin-off media and Star Wars TV series inluding Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have filled in more backstory about the Mandalorians, whose homeworld was gutted by a war with the Galactic Republic’s Jedi Knights in the distant past and who developed their armour and trademark gadgetry to battle the powerful force-users.

Rebels features a prominent female Mandalorian warrior named Sabine Wren, who was used to introduce more aspects of Mandalorian history and culture to audiences.

In Disney+’s The Mandalorian we learn even more about the Mandalorian life, which is closer to a religion than a society and involves all sorts of rules and rituals related to their armour and sense of honour.

Where are the Mandalorians from?

Pedro Pascal is the Mandalorian in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+.
Pedro Pascal is the Mandalorian in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+.

The Mandalorians are originally from the planet Mandalore, a fictional world created for the Star Wars franchise.

In real life, the design that would become the typical Mandalorian look was initially conceptualised by George Lucas for The Empire Strikes Back as a group of white-armoured “supercommandos”, armed with weapons built into white suits and who were supposed to fight the Jedi. Originally, the soldiers were called Super Troopers and were intended to look alike, however they were developed into a sole bounty hunter character named Boba Fett.

Fett was so popular that various parts of spin-off media built an entire society around his backstory, though some of those details have since been removed from canon.

Who is The Mandalorian?

In the Disney+ series we follow a specific Mandalorian Bounty Hunter (played by Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal) with an initially mysterious identity, though more of his history and motives are revealed over the course of the series.

Many people refer to this individual Mandalorian as “Mando” colloquially, though it seems this is a general term for people from his society rather than a nickname he has acquired personally.

Are Boba and Jango Fett Mandalorians?

Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones
Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones

The prequels’ Jango Fett is indeed a true-blooded Mandalorian, although Boba, his son is not technically a Mandalorian depending on how you look at it.

Although both don the armour of the planet Mandalore, in Attack of the Clones George Lucas established that Boba Fett is a clone of Jango. Jango raised Boba as his son on the planet of Kamino, so he didn’t grow up in the Mandalorian culture, and and as a clone he does not truly possess a homeland.

Then again, considering he possesses 100% of the genetic material of an actual Mandalorian, was immersed in the culture by his “father” Jango and given that Mandalorians often welcome “foundlings” into their ranks (again, it’s more of a religion than a species) it’s easy to consider Boba a fair representative of the Mandalorian people.

Who killed Boba Fett?

Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) in Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) in Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

If you’re struggling to remember what happened to the best-known Mandalorian in the Original Trilogy, we’ll give you a quick refresher.

After capturing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) for Jabba the Hutt and living it up on Tattooine, Boba ended up being accidentally knocked into the Sarlacc pit mid-battle, presumably perishing slowly in the monster’s stomach.

It was an ignominious end for the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter – though spin-off books have since hinted that Boba could have survived…

Are there any Mandalorian Jedi?

Yes, despite the hostility between the Mandalorian and the Jedi, Star Wars history has it that a character named Tarre Vizsla became the first Mandalorian Jedi, building a weapon called the Darksaber which he used to unite his people by becoming their Mand’alor.

The Darksaber has played a crucial role in Star Wars spin-off media (particularly the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series), and is a glowing black sword with the usual properties of the Jedi’s lightsaber and immense significance to the Mandalorians themselves.

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The first episode of the Mandalorian will be available to UK viewers from Tuesday 24th March on Disney+