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What is a Mandalorian ?

Over the past four decades (and counting), Star Wars has spawned close to a dozen movies, hundreds of tie-in novels, countless video games, stacks of comic books, action figures, radio dramas, tabletop RPGs, collectible card games, and pretty much every other type of media you can imagine — save one. While Star Wars has a number of cartoons to its name, live-action television remains that galaxy far, far away’s one unconquered frontier.

Oh, there have been one-offs, like the spectacular disaster known as the Star Wars Holiday Special or the made-for-TV Ewok movies. As far as an ongoing series is concerned, though? Nothing. Remember, we live in a world where even Knight Rider’s gotten four different shows. You’d think that the TV industry would show something as big as Star Wars at least a little bit of love.

In 2019, it’s finally going to. It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally got some information about the very first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

A different type of Star Wars, but a very familiar story

In October 2018, Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau (more on him in a bit) posted a picture on Instagram that evoked the classic Star Wars opening crawl and laid out exactly what The Mandalorian will be about.  The series will focus on “the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic,” and will explore the rocky transition from the Galactic Empire to a brand new government.

If that makes The Mandalorian sound like a western, that’s not an accident. At Star Wars Celebration 2019, Favreau and fellow producer Dave Filoni confirmed that The Mandalorian, like the original Star Wars, is heavily inspired by both spaghetti westerns and Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films. Like the heroes in those stories, the Mandalorian is a lone fighter “of questionable moral character” who flies a ship called the Razor Crest and does whatever it takes to survive.

Plot specifics are still slim, but we know that actor Pedro Pascal is modeling the Mandalorian on Clint Eastwood, and that the gunslinger will run across a character named Greef, the head of a loose coalition of bounty hunters who has a special mission for the titular character. According to clips shown to the Star Wars Celebration audience, he’ll also cross paths with an old Imperial loyalist who wants to see the Empire take back control of the galaxy — and it sounds like the Mandalorian isn’t totally against the idea.

But what is a Mandalorian, exactly?

In Star Wars lore, Mandalorians are fierce warriors with a long, proud, and surprisingly complex history. You may not have seen them before, but you’re probably familiar with their most iconic creation: Boba Fett wears Mandalorian armor, as did his father, the bounty-hunter-turned-clone-daddy known as Jango.

Mandalore hasn’t played much of a role in the movies, but it’s a big, big part of the Star Wars cartoon shows. In The Clone Wars, Mandalore has been ravaged after centuries at war, including an old and ancient conflict with the Jedi. When a Duchess tries to establish a pacifist government, a group of exiled warriors strike back, leading to a full-on civil war. Later, Darth Maul (who’s not quite as dead as you think) conquers Mandalore, and uses the planet as a headquarters for his criminal syndicate, the Shadow Collective. So, yeah, Maul’s brief Solo cameo isn’t quite as random as it seems.

Sabine Wren, one of the main cast members on Star Wars Rebels, is Mandalorian through and through. When the series starts, Sabine’s been branded a traitor for her role in the burgeoning Rebel Alliance, but politics end up bringing her back. With the help from her teammates, Sabine returns the fabled Darksaber to its rightful home and helps quell another Mandalorian civil war, bringing peace to the Mandalore at long last. Now, given its remote setting, The Mandalorian probably won’t delve too deep into the planet’s pulpy Game of Thrones-like politics, but hey! There’s always hope for a spinoff…

The clothes that made the man (or the woman)

Here’s a little secret: he might dress like one, but Boba Fett isn’t actually a Mandalorian, at least not in the new, Disney-ified canon. In The Clone Wars episode “The Mandalore Plot,” the Mandalorian Prime Minister tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that Boba’s dad, Jango, is just a regular ol’ bounty hunter who wears someone else’s armor.

But, thanks to Boba, we knew what a Mandalorian looked like decades before we knew anything about them as a people, and The Mandalorian wouldn’t be the same without him. Boba Fett debuted during the Star Wars Holiday Special, and while the rest of the program isn’t worth your time, Nelvana Studios’ animated short “The Faithful Wookiee” absolutely is. Not only does the sequence make Fett cooler than the movies ever did — no falling into man-eating pits here — but the design ended up influencing both how the Mandalorians looked on The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian’s costume, too. That big ol’ holster, the narrow visor, the natural color scheme, and the visible battle damage? Those are all Nelvana.

The Holiday Special short also gives an idea as to what The Mandalorian might look like. In fact, Nelvana’s animators looked to westerns when storyboarding the short. “The Faithful Wookiee’s” surreal landscapes and the dinosaur that Boba rustles and rides might be a little too fanciful for live-action TV, but if you want to see Star Wars reimagined as a spaghetti western, you don’t have to wait for The Mandalorian’s premiere. There’s already an example out in the wild

A galaxy of familiar faces — and you won’t see any of ’em

As revealed at the Solo premiere, The Mandalorian will take place a few years after The Return of the Jedi, and a couple of decades before The Force Awakens. At this point, the Rebel Alliance has transformed into the New Republic, while the former Imperials who’d eventually form the First Order are still licking their wounds in the galaxy’s Unknown Regions. Leia Organa is busy serving in the Galactic Senate. Her husband, Han Solo, splits his time between taking care of their kid Ben, i.e. the future Kylo Ren, racing spaceships, running his own shipping company, and teaming up with his buddy Lando for the occasional New Republic mission.

Don’t expect to see them (or any of the other main Star Wars characters) in The Mandalorian. The new Disney television show takes place far from the New Republic’s capital, and will feature new characters. The Mandalorian looks familiar, but he isn’t Boba Fett. You might think you recognize The Empire Strikes Back’s mechanical bounty hunter IG-88, but that’s actually a different assassin droid named IG-11, who’ll be voiced by filmmaker Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok).

However, The Mandalorian is full of tried and true Star Wars staples: Jawa sandcrawlers, lizard-like dewbacks, Return of the Jedi-style speeder bikes, and at least one familiar-looking droid will all appear. The Mandalorian’s main cast might be brand new, but don’t worry. You’re still going to feel right at home.

The people who are going to make it all happen

The Mandalorian won’t be short on star power, at least not behind the camera. Reports say the show has a 10-episode first series, and Disney shared a list of some of the people who’ll be directing a few of the episodes. Buckle up. It’s a doozy.

Dave Filoni’s there, obviously, but by far the biggest name on the docket is New Zealand native Taiki Waititi. You know why that’s exciting? Here are a few reasons: Eagle vs Shark. Flight of the Conchords. What We Do in the Shadows. Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Thor: Ragnarok. So, yeah, he’s pretty good. On the other hand, Bryce Dallas Howard might be best known for her performances in projects like Jurassic World and Black Mirror, but she’s wanted to get into directing for a while. In fact, Howard already has a number of short films under her belt, and besides, Star Wars runs in the family. Her Oscar-winning father, Ron, just directed Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Further down the list you’ll find Rick Famuyiwa, director of the criminally underrated Dope, and Deborah Chow, a television veteran who’s worked on shows like Jessica Jones, Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, and The Man in the High Castle — y’know, just some of the best dramas currently on television. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better lineup, but then again, it’s not every day that you get to contribute to a cultural institution. We wouldn’t be surprised if The Mandalorian has talent lined up around the block, just waiting for a shot at a galaxy far, far away.

Part of a very exclusive lineup

While The Mandalorian would be a hit on almost any channel — c’mon, it’s Star Wars — you’re not going to be able to watch it via regular cable. The show will air exclusively on Disney+, Disney’s streaming service that’s going to be the new home for, well, almost everything. The series launches on November 12, 2019, and The Mandalorian pilot will be available on day one. A subscription will cost $6.99 a month (or $70 if you subscribe for a full year), although that price will probably go up over time.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re probably going to want to subscribe. In addition to The Mandalorian, Disney+ will host all of the Star Wars movies, a second live-action Star Wars show (see below), a new season of animated series The Clone Wars, and behind-the-scenes documentaries — and, reportedly, that’s just the beginning.

Disney+ will also be crammed full of Marvel content, including all of the MCU movies, a Scarlet Witch-Vision team-up called WandaVision, a Loki solo series, a Falcon and Winter Soldier show, and the animated What If? adaptation. Every single one of Disney’s animated films, even those initially relegated to the “vault,” will be on Disney+, as will original Disney programming like High School Musical: The Series, a rumored Muppets revival, and more. Throw in all 30 seasons of The Simpsons and a National Geographic documentary series starring Jeff Goldblum, and Disney+, and you’re getting a lot of content for your money. Watch out, Netflix. The Mandalorian is coming.

The end of one journey, and the beginning of another

Now, The Mandalorian isn’t the first time that Lucasfilm has tried to bring live-action Star Wars to the small screen. The company has been working on this for a while. In 2005, George Lucas announced that a live-action Star Wars show was in development. The series, which was eventually known as Star Wars Underworld, was set between the prequel and original trilogies, and took place on the Imperial capital Coruscant, with a primary focus on the planet’s seedy criminal underbelly. Allegedly, about 50 scripts were written before Underworld was put on hiatus.

The reason? It’s all about the cash, baby. “The scripts were written as if money was no object,” Battlestar Galactica mastermind Ronald D. Moore, who worked in Underworld’s writers’ room, told EW. According to Lucas, every episode would’ve been equivalent to a $20 million film, although he claimed he could produce it for a fraction of that by using his own facilities and digital technology. He wasn’t willing to compromise his vision, either. If that meant postponing production until Underworld’s special effects could be accomplished on a TV budget, well, then he’d just wait. That was 2011. In 2012, Disney bought Star Wars for $4 billion, and Underworld suddenly went into limbo.

In 2013, ABC’s Paul Lee said that Disney, ABC’s parent company, was reevaluating Underworld, and when Jon Favreau’s series was announced, many fans wondered if some of Underworld (and 1313, Underworld’s cancelled video game tie-in) would make its way into the new project. Given what we know now, probably not, although The Mandalorian inherited at least one thing from its predecessor: the price tag. Reportedly, every episode of the show will cost $10 million to make. Yikes.

A cast that’s out of this world

The Mandalorian might be new, but the actor playing him isn’t. Pedro Pascal, who you probably know best as the dude who had his head crushed by the Mountain on Game of Thrones, will be the man behind the Mandalorian’s signature armor. He’s not coming alone, either. For The Mandalorian, Disney and Lucasfilm have assembled a top-tier cast that’s full of genre-fiction favorites.

Former MMA star and American Gladiator and current action hero Gina Carano will play Cara Dune (or however it’ll end up being spelled), a former Rebel shock trooper who’s having trouble reintegrating with society now that the war is over. Carl Weathers, Rocky’s Apollo Creed, will portray Greef Marga. Critically acclaimed director Werner Herzog steps in as The Mandalorian’s pro-Empire crime lord, while Star Wars Celebration footage revealed that Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul villain Giancarlo Esposito will play a caped TIE Fighter pilot.

But wait, there’s more! The Mandalorian has tapped Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte for a currently unspecified role, and has fleshed out its cast with comedian Bill Burr, The Mentalist and Supernatural’s Emily Swallow and American Gods’ Omid Abtahi. That’s a lot of star power, and chances are that it didn’t come cheap. With The Mandalorian, Disney isn’t messing around.

With Disney reconsidering its approach to Star Wars spinoff films, the Skywalker saga coming to a close with 2019’s Episode IX, and Rian Johnson’s film series still years away, television looks like it’ll be the go-to source for new Star Wars adventures in the near future. Thankfully, The Mandalorian won’t be shouldering that burden all on its own. Not only is the Disney Channel cartoon Star Wars Resistance off to a strong start, but there are other Star Wars series coming to the Disney+ streaming service, too.

Unlike The Mandalorian, however, the other live-action Star Wars show will feature at least one familiar face. Diego Luna, who played Rebel spy Cassian Andor in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will reprise his role in an untitled series set to debut at an unspecified date. The show will be set sometime before the events of Rogue One, and will reportedly focus on “the formative years of the Rebellion.” Then there’s the limited series focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s exploits after the fall of the Jedi, which will bring Ewan McGregor back to the role.

That means that The Mandalorian and the other shows won’t directly overlap — they’re set in two very different time periods — but it’d wouldn’t be surprising to see one reference the other. Under Disney’s stewardship, everything is connected. If a theme park, a novel, and possibly a movie can share a setting, it’s pretty easy to imagine The Mandalorian picking up a character, vehicle, or planet from Andor’s adventures. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Where and when you get to watch The Mandalorian

Unlike original series on services like Netlix and Amazon Prime, The Mandalorian isn’t going to drop all at once. If you want the full Mandalorian experience, you’re going to have to tune in to Disney+ each and every week. Thankfully, the broadcast schedule for all eight episodes of The Mandalorian has leaked early. You want to plan your week around Star Wars? Now you can.

The first episode of The Mandalorian airs on November 12, a Tuesday, which not-so-coincidentally happens to be Disney+’s launch day. The next episode arrives the same week on Friday, November 15, the same day as the newest Star Wars video game, Jedi: Fallen Order. From then on out, episodes will hit on Friday throughout the rest of November and December, with one big exception: episode seven will hit Disney+ on Wednesday, December 18.

What makes episode seven so special? Why, a little something called Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker, which comes out the same week. With advance screenings of Episode IX taking over theaters on Thursday, December 19, Disney wants to keep the weekend free for moviegoers, so it’s releasing that week’s installment of The Mandalorian a little early.

The George Lucas connection to The Mandalorian

All of Star Wars owes a huge debt to George Lucas — after all, the man created the entire darn thing — but The Mandalorian has some specific ties to Star Wars’ great maker. For one, the show is heavily inspired by the first Star Wars movie, especially the opening act and the cantina scene, which Lucas directed (Lucas was creatively involved with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but didn’t actually helm the features). The Mandalorian also uses technology originally developed for the Star Wars prequels, with 20-plus years of technical advancements added in.

However, as Breaking Bad and Mandalorian villain Giancarlo Esposito has revealed, Lucas’ input on the series goes a lot deeper than that. According to Esposito, Lucas actually contributed some creative ideas to the show. While discussing The Mandalorian’s impressive roster of directors with Collider, Esposito said that Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau ” figured it out with George Lucas” himself, and was “working with George Lucas” directly.

Lucas and Favreau must’ve gotten along, because Lucas stopped by The Mandalorian set to surprise Favreau for the showrunner’s 52nd birthday. Disney might be calling the shots at Star Wars these days, but Lucas’ contributions certainly haven’t been forgotten.

Video games helped bring The Mandalorian to life

From the original Star Wars arcade game to ’90s classics like TIE Fighter and Jedi Knight to Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars and video games have always enjoyed a healthy relationship. The Mandalorian pushes it to the next level. While Jon Favreau and his team used practical effects as much as they could to capture the original Star Wars’ hand-made charm, digital wizardry was key to bringing The Mandalorian’s exotic worlds to life.

Favreau already has a fair amount of experience working on primarily digital movie sets — he’s the man behind Disney’s live-action The Lion King and The Jungle Book remakes — and he brought all of that know-how to The Mandalorian, which was filmed largely using green screens. So, how did Favreau and the actors know what their fictional locations were supposed to look like? 

By using a game engine, of course. Video game software is great at rendering detailed 3D environments in real time, and The Mandalorian team used that tech to create digital sets that the cast and crew could “film” and see the results in real time. Not only did that speed up production. It let The Mandalorian’s creative minds get an excellent read on what the finished product would look like and adjust accordingly. The results should speak for themselves.

The Empire is gone, but not forgotten

The Mandalorian takes place about five years after Return of the Jedi and 25 years before The Force Awakens, making the galaxy a very different place than what you’re used to. The ragtag Rebel Alliance has transformed itself into the New Republic, a representative democracy that spans many known planets. At this point in Star Wars canon, the New Republic is in full swing, with a headquarters on the planet Chandrila. It has also passed the Military Disarmament Act, which drastically scaled back the New Republic’s military, leaving behind only a small peacekeeping force.

The Galactic Empire, on the other hand, hasn’t been as fortunate. After the Battle of Jakku brought the Galactic Civil War to a close, what remained of the main Imperial fleet retreated to the mysterious Unknown Regions, where it will eventually reform into the First Order. Not yet, though. The First Order is still years away.

It’s a time of transition. Out on the Outer Rim, where The Mandalorian takes place, former Imperial warlords are scrambling to hold on to power. Former rebels are trying to figure out where they belong now that the fighting has stopped. Criminals try to profit off of the confusion, and The Mandalorian’s main characters are all caught right in the middle of it.

He’s had more than one origin story

Most Star Wars fans are pretty secure about the origin story of their favorite bounty hunter—after all, everything is spelled out by Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Boba Fett is the unaltered clone of legendary bounty hunter Jango Fett, who is raised as his son and eventually takes his own place in the galaxy as a bounty hunter after Mace Windu decapitates Jango.

However, Star Wars had already developed a rich, extended universe of novels, comics, and games well before the prequels came around, and Boba Fett had a previous origin already laid out. Originally, his real name was Jaster Mereel, a man from the planet Concord Dawn. It was on this planet that he served as a kind of policeman (specifically, a Journeyman Protector) who killed his corrupt superior officers. He was charged as a murderer and kicked off the planet, eventually being taken in by the Mandalorians and becoming the character audiences love.

After Attack of the Clones came out, the character of Jaster received a retcon and became an honor-driven Mandalorian (retaining most of his original origin of exile from Concord Dawn) who took a young Jango Fett under his wing after Jango’s parents were murdered by the Death Watch, a group of fanatical Mandalorians. In a bit of irony, Jango’s father had taken over after Mereel was exiled, mimicking the fact that Boba Fett’s new origin replaced Mereel’s original role.

He had many adventures before putting on the helmet

For those who only watch the Star Wars movies, Boba Fett’s history seems very fragmented. He is only a part of one of the prequels and two of the original trilogy movies, with little explanation of what happened between witnessing his father’s death and becoming the most badass bounty hunter in the galaxy. However, one source provides some interesting illumination on the young Fett’s continuing adventures, and that is the Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon.

Clone Wars has the somewhat dubious honor of surviving the great purge of the original Star Wars extended universe. That universe had been building through various novels, comics, and games for years, and served as mostly canonical unless it was superseded by later movies (like Boba Fett’s origin being dramatically different). On the eve of Force Awakens coming out, Disney clarified that none of these old extended universe stories were “official” anymore save for broadcast media, including Clone Wars. This means that unless something like the long-rumored solo Fett movie dislodges it, the Clone Wars continuity for Fett is official.

The cartoon portrayed Fett as working with the Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk and other shady characters such as Aurra Sing. One of young Fett’s understandable goals was to avenge Jango by killing Mace Windu, and he was imprisoned after failing in this task. However, the resourceful young warrior was able to eventually escape and go back to learning the ways of bounty hunting.

His first appearance was at a county fair

Most people know that Boba Fett first appears in the film franchise in The Empire Strikes Back. Later in life he was digitally added to the original Star Wars and the really savvy fan may even be able to tell you Fett’s first appearance on screen ever was during the Star Wars Holiday Special that aired in 1978 on CBS. But none of those are actually the first time the public got to meet Boba Fett. Boba Fett’s first public appearance was, bizarrely enough, on September 24, 1978, at the San Anselmo County Fair parade. Who saw that coming? San Anselmo was the home of Lucasfilm at the time and George Lucas felt like having the characters in the local parade was a great idea. Duwayne Dunham was the man in the armor and also assistant film editor on both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He recalls the day of the parade being insanely hot,­ and he was sweating buckets. But lots of people still wanted autographs even though they had no idea who he was.

George Lucas didn’t think fans would like him

It’s hard for Fett fanatics to even think about, but George Lucas had no idea that fans would make such a big deal out of Boba Fett. Lucas later expressed his surprise at this explosion of popularity for, as he puts it, “just another one of the minions” on the Return of the Jedi commentary track, admitting his regret that they didn’t make a bigger deal out of Boba Fett’s death.

It’s an interesting line from Lucas, because it answers the age-old question of why such a cool character experienced such an ignominious end. The short answer: to Lucas, his death deserved little more screen attention than any of the other thugs and aliens that Luke and friends dispatched. Fans of both Boba Fett and Star Wars in general did manage to dodge a bullet (or should that be dodging a laser blast?) because on that same commentary track, Lucas discussed how close he came to adding a Special Edition scene to Jedi that showed Boba Fett crawling out of the Sarlacc Pit. And let’s be honest: Fett was already the worst part of some really terrible Special Editions. Which reminds us…

Originally his armor was all white

For some reason, Lucas really liked the idea of dudes in white armor. Stormtroopers in pearly white plates make up a huge portion of the original trilogy and Boba Fett was going to be no different if his original design—illustrated by Ralph McQuarrie—had been included. The features that made him look different than your average Stormtrooper were present—like a cool jetpack and a narrow and sinister visor—but it was all bright, shiny white.

Why? Turns out he was supposed to be wearing ancient Stormtrooper armor, from a past regiment of the soldiers known as Shocktroopers. Basically he’d be a soldier in a civil war uniform during modern times. In fact, Fett was originally going to be Darth Vader, as a former intergalactic bounty hunter. As the character progressed to a fallen Jedi Knight, George Lucas moved the bounty hunter idea onto a different character, who then became the Fett we all know and love.

He and Vader have tried to kill each other

For fans who have only seen the Original Trilogy, it would seem that Boba Fett and Darth Vader have a very amicable relationship. Fett seems to have status and a history with the Dark Lord as a kind of favorite contractor for the Empire. However, readers of the Star Wars comics over the years have witnessed the rather unforgettable sight of Vader and Fett trying to all-out murder each other.

In truly bizarre comics fashion, the two were fighting over the severed-but-still-talkative head of an alien queen that was able to predict the future. Boba Fett was hired to retrieve this head in a box, while Vader wanted it as a tool for his eventual overthrow of Emperor Palpatine. The two came to blows, with Vader deflecting blaster bolts and cutting Fett’s getaway speeder in half. Fett, in turn, fired much of his arsenal at Vader and even managed to shrug off an attempt at Sith mind control. Fett managed to non-fatally shoot Vader in the head, at which point Vader stopped screwing around and Force choked Fett. The only way he got out of it was by throwing the head in a box towards some nearby lava (you’d think Vader, of all people, would stay away from lava) and jetpacking to safety while Vader used the Force to retrieve it. It’s not clear how the two went from nearly killing each other to a pleasant work relationship; perhaps they bonded over how difficult it is to go to the bathroom while wearing armor.

He’s been portrayed by eight actors

You’d think Darth Vader would have taken the record for most actors portraying the same character from childhood through adulthood. But Boba Fett really wins that award since, for the most part, whoever fit into the armor got to play him onscreen.

Jeremy Bulloch played Fett through most of the character’s onscreen life. When he missed filming for a single day, stuntman John Morton filled in, while Jason Wingreen provided his voice. For the special editions, he was later dubbed by Temuera Morrison, the actor who played Jango Fett in the prequels. On the subject of the special editions, George Lucas needed more Fett footage, but they decided that flying Bulloch in would be a waste of money. Instead they just used various Industrial Light and Magic employees who could fit into the armor. Mark Austin, a creature animator, Don Bies, a model maker, and Nelson Hall, the assistant manager of the model shop all took on Fett duties. Finally, for the prequels, we got to meet Little Boba who was played by Daniel Logan. Logan also provides the voice for Boba Fett in the Clone Wars cartoon.

He was the original action figure controversy

Nowadays, when Star Wars has an action figure controversy, it usually revolves around the representation of women: depending on who you talk to, Star Wars either shows too much (when it comes to numerous representations of the gold-bikini Leia Organa) or too little (when it comes to alleged shortages of Rey figures on the shelves). However, the original Star Wars action figure controversy not only concerned Boba Fett, but how most older fans first found out about the mysterious bounty hunter.

While some Star Wars fans may have had the misfortune of seeing Fett on the legendarily awful Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978 (something so bad that George Lucas never released it on video, but still subjected us to Droids cartoons and freaking Ewoks specials), most found out about Fett when he was a heavily advertised mail-away action figure released in 1980, obtained by mailing in proofs of purchase of four other Star Wars figures.

So far, so good. Just one small problem: in all of that advertising, the Fett figure was portrayed with a rocket-firing backpack. Despite the fact that the movie Boba Fett never fired that rocket, fans were understandably quite upset at not receiving the firing Fett they were promised. Kenner claimed they removed the feature for safety reasons but went on to produce some prototypes of these figures, which have been described as “The Holy Grail” of Star Wars collectibles. Hasbro eventually made things right decades later when they released an actual rocket-firing Boba Fett as part of their Vintage Collection. He, too, was a mail-away figure, and as Vader might say, the circle was now complete.

He has a wide array of knickknacks

You can tell by looking at Fett that he’s pretty well-armored and carries a lot of gear. His go to weapon of choice is an EE-3 carbine rifle. Also close at hand are a disruptor pistol and a concussion grenade launcher. Then there’s the flamethrower, dart launcher, fiber-cord wrist launcher gauntlet, vibro-blades, concussive rocket and a jet pack. Fett’s helmet allows for full 360-degree vision. It interfaces with his ship’s computer, provides water, can seal for changes in atmospheric pressure, record video and amplify sound. The armor itself is designed to resist the elements and minimize impact from anything including blaster fire, while the gauntlets are decked out with a host of different types of rockets, most of which are meant to stun rather than kill, since a bounty hunter can’t get paid if he blows up his prey.

Of course most of this never made it onto film and, realistically, Fett did almost nothing in the original trilogy beyond looking pretty cool and then selling Han Solo down the river to Jabba. But it was a love of the character’s potential that inspired writers in the Expanded Universe to flesh him out, which hopefully will find its way into Fett’s solo film.

He’s had many ships

This is a small, but interesting, detail that comes from the Dark Horse Star Wars comics. Boba Fett is apparently very fond of naming his ships Slave; so fond, in fact, that when we first meet him onscreen, he’s flying the imaginatively named Slave IV, which is the same type of vessel as his clone dad Jango’s original ride, Jaster’s Revenge. Those other Slaves have some interesting stories attached, too: Slave II was pulled into duty because his original was impounded, and Slave III was used for helping Fett retrieve ships and other massive cargo.

He’s one of the worst parts of the Special Editions

The release of the Special Editions of the Star Wars movies inspired a decidedly mixed reaction among fans. For younger moviegoers, this was their first opportunity to see the original trilogy in theaters. At the same time, though, they had to suffer through all the changes George Lucas added. Some of the changes were understandable and even necessary, cleaning up shots that suffered from the guerrilla filmmaking approach to Star Wars (such as the Vaseline smeared on a camera lens to achieve the original floating speeder effect). However, others ranged from gratuitous, such as adding new floating droids that distracted from iconic scenes, all the way to the outrageous: Greedo trying to shoot Han Solo first, complete with an edited laser dodge from Han that came straight out of the Matrix. Boba Fett’s added material, however, is one of the worst parts of the Special Editions.

The first new Fett footage was added to A New Hope, in the added scene with Jabba the Hutt. It was filmed for the original movie using a very human Jabba, and Lucas used his CGI magic to put the scene back in with the space slug audiences know and love. Boba Fett was digitally added, but had no interaction with Solo because the character didn’t exist when it was filmed; this was just Lucas throwing out a gratuitous glimpse. No changes were made to Empire Strikes Back when it comes to Fett, but in Return of the Jedi, there are now scenes of Fett leering at Jabba’s dancers and playfully touching a dancer on the chin as he walks out.

What’s wrong with this, you ask? A large part of what made Boba Fett scary was that he seemed to have no human weaknesses or vices, just a relentless dedication to his goal. In fact, the only excess he seems given to is a propensity for disintegrating his enemies, which Vader chides him for. Now, the Special Editions present him just like any other guy, distracted by the beautiful women around him. While this does open the door for fan theories about his getting knocked into the Sarlacc because he was distracted by Leia’s gold bikini, it also reveals that years after Lucas was surprised at the fan love for the character, he still didn’t truly understand what made the aloof bounty hunter so cool in the first place.

He became leader of the Mandalorians

The actual history of the Mandalorians has been something of a moving target in Star Wars fandom. This is because it seems that no sooner than some cool history and backstory is laid out in a novel or comic, a movie or cartoon episode will quickly nullify it. One interesting bit of Mandalorian history, though, is that Boba Fett eventually becomes their leader, a person known by the title “Mandalore.”

He gained this status through a bizarre tale in which he was hired to kill the existing Mandalorian leader, but only did so as an act of mercy. That leader, Shysa, saved Fett’s life on the planet Shogun but was mortally wounded in the process. Fett killed Shysa to provide a quick and honorable death, but he was also bound to honor his last request: that Boba Fett become the new Mandalore. The position did not include day-to-day administration, but it did require general leadership, especially in times of crisis. As such, Fett helped Mandalorians fight back against the alien Yuuzhan Vong invaders. He later helped economically restore Mandalore by recalling the various scattered clans to a central location and aiding them in locating a valuable new mineral with which they could regain strength after losing many of their warriors and resources fighting the Vong.

He survived the Sarlacc

Let’s get this taken care of right away: Boba Fett didn’t die. Technically. While Fett unceremoniously tumbles into the Sarlacc at the end of Return of the Jedi, later writers would tweak this in the Expanded Universe (which doesn’t count in continuity anymore) so that Fett climbed right back out of that hungry sandhole. The actor who portrayed Fett at the time wasn’t even working from a script, he’d simply be handed his scenes the day of filming, and he felt that Fett deserved better than a hole in the middle of a sand trap. Even George Lucas himself, after realizing how popular the character was, wished he’d given him a more monumental sendoff.

For what it’s worth, in The Force Awakens, the flags at Maz Katana’s include one bearing the symbol of the Mandalorians that Fett wears on armor: a skull that’s said to represent the Mandalorian Mythosaur, a city-sized reptile that existed long ago. If Fett was the last person ever to use this symbol, does that mean he’s still alive and a patron of Kanata’s? Maybe we’ll find out later.

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