The premiere of The Mandalorian’s second season brought with it a lot of familiarities — the return of our heroes, locales we know well, and some very famous armour. But in its final moment, it teased something major coming to Din Djarin’s quest to find the remnants of his people. But…is there any chance it actually didn’t mean what most fans assumed?
My friends, as much as I personally don’t want to, we have come today to talk about the Gundark in the room.
As Din Djarin bids farewell to Cobb Vanth at the end of The Mandalorian’s ninth chapter, “The Marshal,” the camera pulls back to bask in the hazy desert light of Tatooine’s twin sunset and reveals a new figure watching over our hero. Clad in dusty robes and wielding the weapons of a Tusken Raider, the figure turns, to reveal the scarred, bald-headed visage of none other than actor Temuera Morrison. The face of Jango Fett. The face of legions in the Clone War.
Most importantly here, it’s also the face of Jango’s legacy: Boba Fett, the most infamous bounty hunter to walk the galaxy far, far away.
Who could imagine a simple rocket firing could mean so much? But in the season two premiere of The Mandalorian, director Jon Favreau gave knowing fans a huge smile by arming Cobb Vanth with a rocket jetpack that was deployed in a very specific way. We wrote about this in...Read more
But like we said, Morrison’s face has become the face of more than just the Fetts in Star Wars’ vast universe. We might all be gasping that the iconic hunter survived his seemingly certain fate in Return of the Jedi and take it as a given, but what if The Mandalorian wanted a twist on top of a twist? Could there be any chance that Boba Fett did indeed die in the Sarlacc pit, and this is another Jango Clone, perhaps even one we met in the last days of the Old Republic? As with all Very Important Star Wars Questions, we must consider the timeline, and a little bit of maths.
After being contacted by Jedi Master Sifo-Diyas, the scientists of Kamino began manufacturing a Republic military force, cloned from the genetic tissue template of human bounty hunter Jango Fett, in 32BBY (that’s “Before the Battle of Yavin,” fact fans, aka 32 years before A New Hope). Diyas, an unwitting pawn of the Sith’s machinations, was promptly murdered as Count Dooku took over the creation of a 200,000-strong army.
The Kaminoan’s clones were, for the most part, a genetic match to Jango, with a few alterations: the big one of course was that an inorganic chip was implanted in their brains. That chip would ultimately force them to follow Protocol 66, the order that compelled them to turn on their one-day Jedi commanders for treason. On a genetic level, there were further tweaks. The Clones were made more docile than Jango so that they would better follow the orders of their commanders, but, in order to establish an interstellar fighting force as soon as they could, they were also given growth accelerants that meant that Clones would age twice as quickly as humans would.
In just a decade, Kamino had produced an army of young, strong soldiers for the Republic just when it would need it the most. But by the time the Empire was well and truly established and the Galactic Civil War had begun in earnest, the Clones, having served as the first generation of Imperial Stormtroopers, were on the way out of active service in the Imperial service. Their accelerated age meant their abilities likewise deteriorated, and most remaining Clones in Imperial service were transitioned to auxiliary and managerial duties.
By the Battle of Yavin — when most Clones would’ve been in their early 30s — it was believed there were hardly any (or any at all) Clone Troopers on the front lines, with the Imperial Navy and Military transitioning over to human conscripts. We already know what clones looked like just 15 years after the Clone War: we met Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor in Star Wars Rebels’ third season, when they were 28 years old.
They, of course, look closer to nearly being in their 60s. A Clone trooper by the time of The Mandalorian would be in their early 40s age-wise, but would have the body and appearance of someone who was 80. Crucially, Boba Fett was a clone Jango requested who would explicitly not include the Kaminoan’s advanced ageing gene therapy. Jango wanted a son of his own, that he could raise. This means by the time of The Mandalorian, if he had not perished in the Sarlacc, Fett would’ve been around 41 years old. And the figure we saw at the end of “The Marshal” is a lot closer to that unless there are some incredibly spry senior citizens wandering around Tatooine.
Maybe there are more Jango clones out there that Fett didn’t know of, or maybe someone else started cloning Clone Troopers after the Kaminoans did, but let’s be clear: there is an almost near-certainty that this was indeed Boba Fett that we glimpsed at the end of “The Marshal.” Not just because that looked a lot closer to Temuera Morrison playing a 40-year-old who’d had a nice dip in Sarlacc stomach acid than it did an octogenarian Clone, but we have to crucially remember: this is Star Wars. For good or ill, Star Wars loves its past, and The Mandalorian is no exception to the kind of wistful navel-gazing that is fundamental to critically approaching the franchise at this point.
The show has proven, at least, that it is good at likewise being critical about how it utilises that nostalgic imagery. If this is indeed Fett we see walking away from the binary sunset, then there’s reason to believe the show will do so much more than bring him back to poke and wink at. And if, somehow, some way, this is a Fett Clone we’re dealing with (Republic soldier or otherwise), and not the man himself? There are a few ways that could be interesting too.
It wouldn’t be the strangest thing this franchise has done, at least.
Catch the rest of The Mandalorian on Disney+.