CS Soapbox: Would Boba Fett Have Killed The Mandalorian’s Bounty?
Prepare yourself for something you already know: Star Wars’ Skywalker saga explores the dichotomy between light and dark. Disney +’s new series, The Mandalorian, appears equipped to dissect this dynamic even more than the films. Why? Because the series follows a bounty hunter.
The most morally ambiguous character type in Star Wars, nay, cinema is the bounty hunter. The Man With No Name, Django Unchained, Beck from The Rundown, Leonard Smalls from Raising Arizona, and of course, Boba Fett—figures that need to make a living, plain and simple. The faceless latter is one of the coolest bounty hunters to ever appear on screen (in the original trilogy at least).
Boba Fett’s influence on the Mando
When we first meet Boba Fett he’s Jabba The Hutt’s go-to guy; an intergalactic soldier of fortune with custom armor, a jet pack, Batman-worthy gadgets, and…very few lines. We knew nothing about him other than that he was impartial—in it for himself. By attempting to give him a backstory, the prequel trilogy robbed Boba Fett of any and all mystery in the worst way. All we were left with was a bratty clone kid.
Prior to The Mandalorian being announced, it was rumored that Disney would be producing a standalone Boba Fett movie. That idea was scrapped. What we have now is a new bounty hunter, shrouded in Boba Fett-esque swagger and sporting similar Mandalorian garb while characters that look like Boba Fett hang out in the background. Unlike Boba Fett, this character is directly connected to the violent and war-torn planet of Mandalore.
Anticipation for the show has been one of the best things Disney’s new streaming service has going for it. This is in large part due to the popularity of Boba Fett. Set in the outer reaches of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire, The Mandalorian is perfectly primed for an outlaw who always wears a helmet, separating himself from society. The only thing the show MUST deliver is a moral conflict fit for its anti-hero. It appears it has.
The Mandalorian (This is where the spoilers begin)
The Bounty Hunter’s Guild is struggling in The Mandalorian, as is our previously unnamed protagonist (now Dyn Jarren?). There aren’t enough bounties to go around and the ones available, as our anti-hero describes them, barely cover the cost of fuel. The guy who provides work to the bounty hunters, Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), offers the titular character that one big job —“direct commission, face to face, deep pocket.” Our dude accepts.
After meeting the ex-imperial client (Werner Herzog), the Mandalorian with no name is paid upfront with a rare alloy. This substance is what the indestructible Mandalorian armor is made from—immune to blasters and lightsabers. It’s safe to say this means a lot to Mandalorians.
Prepare yourself for something you may not know: thousands of years before the events of The Mandalorian, Mandalore went to war with The Old Republic, more specifically, they went to war with the Jedi. They eventually lost that war and their previously violent planet (where clans battled constantly and “weapons are a religion”) was taken over by pacifists. Some Mandalorians stuck to the old ways (out of spite?). The Mandalorian‘s protagonist falls into this category.
End of contextualization.
The Mandalorian is able to find the location of his target with the help of his tracking fob, a surprisingly graceful Nick Nolte, and the destructive talents of a Taika Waititi-voiced IG-11. In an ironic twist of fate, the bounty turns out to be a baby. A “Baby Yoda” (not Yoda but the same mysterious species) to be exact. This is a surprise because we were told that the green guy/girl in question was 50 years old. IG-11 says that it must have a very long lifespan, but it’s a shame we’ll never find out. Its mission is to kill the baby.
Chapter One ends as the Mandalorian shoots IC-11, saving the baby. It’s unclear why he does this; it’s either because he will be paid more for the child alive, or he’s a bounty hunter, not a baby killer. No one would watch a series about the guy who killed “Baby Yoda.” Given the show’s obvious nods to Boba Fett, this scenario begs the question:
Would Star Wars’ original bounty hunter have killed “Baby Yoda”?
The easy answer to this question is no. Not if he was the main character in this series. What about the Boba Fett that was developed over the course of three movies? Maybe. That Boba Fett truly embodied the “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold” mantra and so does our new protagonist. However, by the end of the second episode, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Disney is using this opportunity to inadvertently redeem a character whose kick-ass persona and potential hasn’t been cool since the 80s. The Mandalorian‘s protagonist is a total love-letter to fans of Boba Fett. He’s the version of the character we’ve always envisioned before we knew too much.
Chapter Two of The Mandalorian has another big moment in it: “Baby Yoda” saving the day. It’s big not only because it’s the first little nugget of growth in what is sure to be a pivotal relationship in the show, but because it confirms everyone’s suspicions about Yoda’s species: They are force sensitive AF. In this way, the baby symbolizes the force, and in turn, the Jedi Order that dismantled the Mandalorian’s heritage. Who knows if they’ll explore this in the show but it’d be pretty cool if they did.
The Star Wars franchise is at its best when suggesting that a galaxy far far away is painted in shades of gray; this was Luke Skywalker’s whole thing, before The Last Jedi of course. The light and dark sides of the force serve as a heavy-handed stand-in for morality and “bringing balance to the force” is a substitution for the philosophical argument that one could not exist without the other. So, if there’s anyone who’s been wondering why there always seems to be someone in dark met by their equal in the light—this is why.
The Mandalorian gives us a character in dark/gray meeting their equal in the light. Maybe there was a chance of that character killing “Baby Yoda” early on if he really needed to, but definitely not after it saves the Mandalorian’s life. It looks like we are finally getting the redemptive/revealing arc that Boba Fett deserved. In the words of Nick Nolte’s repeated declaration, “I have spoken.”