Doubts already existed over Boba and Jango Fett's Mandalorian credentials in the Star Wars world, but The Mandalorian episode 4 settles the debate conclusively. Making his theatrical debut in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett had a minimal role in the original Star Wars trilogy but became a firm fan favorite nonetheless. The prequel trilogy seized upon this popularity and delved into Boba's backstory, revealing his father was a bounty hunter by the name of Jango Fett, and thus providing Boba with a reason for his chosen vocation.
After plans for a Boba Fett solo movie were axed, Jon Favreau was put to work on a live action Star Wars TV series based around a bounty hunter with a very similar visual style to Boba and Jango, but who was actually an entirely new figure. This concept became The Mandalorian, named after a race of warriors hailing from the planet Mandalore. While not featured in the Star Wars movies, Mandalorians predominantly wear armor of the typical Boba Fett style and appear in both The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Due to civil war, Mandalore was split between those who sought a peaceful society and those who held on to their violent roots, and it's the latter group from which The Mandalorian's title character derives.
In The Mandalorian's latest episode, Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano find themselves on a Seven Samurai style mission to save a village of farmers from despicable Klatooinian bandits. Already on the run, the lure of a quiet life and a pretty girl clearly tempts Mando into putting down roots in the village, but he declines the offer. This decision leads to a deeper exploration of Mandalorian culture and. as a side effect, a more definitive explanation as to why Jango and Boba Fett were never truly part of the Way.
Star Wars Already Cast Doubt That Jango & Boba Fett Were Mandalorians
To the casual eye, The Mandalorian looks every inch like a Boba Fett series, and Disney are absolutely banking on the familiarity of the original character to attract viewers. However, the Star Wars franchise has previously made attempts to distance both Boba and Jango from the Mandalorian people. While Jango Fett's origins are murky, the prequel trilogy bounty hunter is said to have been born on the Mandalorian world of Concord Dawn. One might assume that it was here he received training and became one of the galaxy's most feared bounty hunters, and while that may be true, he didn't necessarily gain his Mandalorian armor via legitimate means. In The Clone Wars, Almec, the Prime Minister of Mandalore, asserts that Jango was merely a regular bounty hunter who acquired a suit of Mandalorian armor. This would suggest that neither Jango nor his son were true Mandalorians.
Nevertheless, a degree of debate remained around Boba and Jango's status. The decision to cast the duo as common mercenaries when fans had previously assumed them to be genuine Mandalorians came from George Lucas himself, but proved controversial since the expanded universe (now known as Legends canon) claimed the exact opposite. Mandalore was also rife with political turmoil and in-fighting, so Almec's accusation towards Jango could've been interpreted as a refusal to acknowledge a "lesser" Mandalorian, who stole his armor more in the metaphorical, undeserving sense than the literal light-fingered sense.
Mandalorians Can't Take Their Helmets Off
If The Clone Wars cast considerable doubt over Boba and Jango Fett's Mandalorian status, episode 4 of The Mandalorian puts the final nail in that coffin. The Star Wars franchise has already established that being a Mandalorian isn't merely a matter of being born on the right planet; it's a culture that can be learned and adopted. The title character of the Disney+ series was originally an orphan who the Mandalorians took in as a "foundling" and then impressed their own values and discipline onto. The title of "Mandalorian" was something Pascal's character earned, rather than inherited.
And just as that label can be bestowed, it can apparently also be taken away just as quickly. Asked what would happen if he ever removed his helmet in front of others, Mando replies that he would never be able to put the thing back on again. Given the inherent connection between a Mandalorian and their armor, being unable to wear that symbolic helmet is tantamount to removing the title of Mandalorian altogether. This explanation does create somewhat of a plot hole considering that other Mandalorians have removed their helmets previously in Star Wars canon, but if The Mandalorian's word is taken at face value, then Jango and Boba's connection to the Way continues to crumble.
In the Star Wars prequels, Jango removes his helmet more or less whenever he's not fighting, happy for Obi-Wan, the people of Kamino, Count Dooku and others to see his (or, indeed, Temuera Morrison's) face. This adds further weight to the notion that Jango is just a regular bounty hunter who stole his armor, and that if he ever was a Mandalorian, he's long since abandoned that title by the time of the prequel trilogy. Elsewhere in "The Sanctuary", The Mandalorian proves that the Jango/Boba mistaken identity issue might actually be a common occurrence. When two farmers first approach Mando about taking down the troublesome bandits, they question whether he's actually a Mandalorian, or whether he's just wearing their armor. This implies that Jango and Boba may not be the only criminals flying around in stolen gear.
Jango & Boba Fett Didn't Respect "The Way"
The Mandalorian has emphasized the importance of a warrior keeping their helmet on, but perhaps even more so has revealed their religious attitude towards combat and hunting. Despite their violent nature and moral ambiguity, The Mandalorian has highlighted a certain code of honor among the people, best exhibited when Mando refuses to take credit for slaying a Mud Horn because Baby Yoda helped him in the battle by using the Force. Elsewhere, other Mandalorians within the hall show an explicit distaste for taking jobs from the Empire; a feud that dates back to their planet being forcibly placed under Imperial rule.
These cultural traits are in stark contrast to the methods and personalities both Boba and Jango Fett have exhibited in the Star Wars movies. The franchise's two most famous bounty hunters (for now, at least) not only have long, intrinsic ties to the Empire, but they're also both far more ruthless than Mando and his clansmen appear to be. The Mandalorians of the TV series have a code, in addition to the rules impressed by the bounty hunters' guild, however, the only restrictions Jango and Boba Fett operated alongside were those imposed by their employers and clients. Boba especially wasn't above using dirty tricks in battle and it's hard to imagine him turning down credit for a kill that was only partly his to claim. This disconnect proves that Boba and Jango Fett might've inspired the creation of the Mandalorians as part of the Star Wars mythology, but neither hold much in common with their visual counterparts in The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian continues December 6th on Disney+.