Fatherhood in The Mandalorian: Portraying a Clan of Two

Curator's Note

Since the Star Wars franchise acquisition in 2012, The Walt Disney Company has produced films that both extend the chronology of the Skywalker Saga, but also add backstory in-between previous films, like Rogue One (2016) and Solo (2018). Serving this latter role, Star Wars: The Mandalorian is set five years after Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian follows the Mandalorian bounty hunter Din “Mando” Djarin, and his adventures involving The Child. Fans of Star Wars are first introduced to the concept of a Mandalorian bounty hunter through Jango Fett in Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

Throughout the Star Wars franchise, the theme of fatherhood has managed to drive each film's narrative directly. Of course, one of the most recognizable quotes in the entire franchise is Darth Vader revealing to Luke that he is his father. The importance of fatherhood is also established through “Duel of the Fates” in Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) in which Qui-Gon and Darth Maul fight over what will ultimately define the fate of young Anakin Skywalker. Executive producer Dave Filoni explains the significance of the duel scene and how it sets the foundation for the Skywalker Saga by removing a positive father figure and laying the foundation for Anakin to eventually become Darth Vader. Other examples of poor father-child relationships are also depicted through characters such as Jane and Galen Erso in Rouge One; Kylo Ren (Ben) and Han Solo, and Rey and Palpatine in the final trilogy. 

However, The Mandalorian offers a healthy and positive depiction of fatherhood between Mando and The Child, highlighting the challenges of being a single parent. Since the Mandalorian tribe adopted Mando after he had been abandoned through his own parents' death, his experience fuels his decision to become a caretaker for The Child. Although there are moments throughout the series when he tries to rid himself of the responsibility, Mando does his best to look out for The Child, keeping it safe from the dangers of their adventures. However, Mando doesn’t fully accept the role of a father until the season-one finale, when The Child is deemed a Mandalorian foundling. Watching as he struggles to adjust to the unexpected responsibility of fatherhood, viewers are taken on a journey through Mando as he transforms from a selfish lone ranger into a guardian for The Child, becoming a clan of two. 


In most of the aforementioned cases, there is some form of reconciliation and/or reunification with the deceased father. What do you make of the fact that neither Mando nor The Child can reconcile with an absent parent?

Good question. Most examples of reconciliation between characters happen right before dying (or when the parent has already passed). I believe that there could be elements in the Star Wars universe that may offer Mando and The Child this idea of reconciliation with their birth parents, but it would come much later. Or maybe their story isn't about their parents. I think that reconciliation for Luke and Anakin/Vader was specific to their development and necessary to see because it removed his connection with the force's dark side and reaffirmed Anakin as 'the chosen one.' So far, that is the only situation where I see a reunification necessary because the narrative of Anakin/Vader saving Luke plays a larger role in Anakin's story. Once Anakin/Vader saves Luke, he dies, and we don't know if Anakin ever reconnects with Qui-Gon. 

I like the general parallel with flawed or absent fatherhood in the Saga films and Rogue One - and the idea of surrogate fathers, that also informs Rebels. Of course, as your conclusion suggests, this is a revisionist take on the Western genre, as our lone 'gunslinger' more fully enters a community (the Clan of two, but also his allies), and accepts a different code to that of the Bounty Hunters Guild. The significance of the name 'The Child' here extends beyond keeping its origins secret.

You bring up good points. Mando's connection to Mandalorian becomes more vital than his role as a bounty hunter (which you might believe is pretty strong considering his first line is "I can bring you in hot or cold"). It further explains Mando's transition from selfish to caring in his development towards becoming a father for The Child. Although I have not seen Rebels, there are probably more connections beyond the films and Disney's contributions to the Star Wars universe. 

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.