As the debut of The Mandalorian draws closer, here’s everything you need to know about the world of Mandalore.

The Star Wars galaxy is home to some of the most iconic alien worlds in all of pop culture, from Tatooine to Hoth to Jakku. But there’s one key Star Wars planet that might be unfamiliar to fans who only follow the movies. Mandalore has been the setting of some of the coolest Star Wars projects of the past two decades. And thanks to the upcoming Disney+ series Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Mandalore is about to become a lot more more famous.

But what is Mandalore, and why does it play such a key role in the Star Wars mythos? Here’s everything you need to know about the world, its culture and its most famous inhabitants.

Mandalore Explained: The Basics

Mandalore is home to one of the greatest warrior cultures in the Star Wars galaxy. Its distant past is only vaguely defined in Disney’s current Star Wars continuity, but in the classic Legends universe, Mandalore was once aligned with the ancient Sith. Together, the Sith and Mandalorians waged a destructive war against the Jedi Order and the Old Republic. The fact that the warriors of Mandalore were able to hold their own against the Jedi tells you all you need to know about their battle prowess. Those ancient warriors set a standard that Mandalorians like Jango Fett and Boba Fett seek to uphold.

In the era of the Star Wars movies, Mandalore is a world torn between its warrior roots and a desire for peace and prosperity. Mandalore served as one of many key battlegrounds in the Clone Wars, ultimately falling under Imperial rule at the end of the war. And like countless other worlds after the fall of Palpatine’s Empire, Mandalore faces an identity crisis as it finally emerges from decades of tyrannical rule. Will Mandalorians return to their warlike ways or forge a lasting peace with the rest of the galaxy?

Mandalore’s Major Characters

Many key Star Wars characters hail from Mandalore. Here are the names all fans should know:

Boba Fett – Boba Fett is both the first and most iconic Mandalorian character to appear in the Star Wars franchise. In the time of the Empire, Boba Fett is perhaps the single most feared bounty hunter in the entire galaxy. It was only with the release of the prequels that fans learned about his tragic past and family history.

Jango Fett – Jango Fett is the father of Boba Fett. While also revered as one of the galaxy’s most fearsome bounty hunters in his own day, Jango is most notable for serving as the genetic template for the Republic’s vast clone army. Boba Fett isn’t actually Jango’s son, but rather a clone raised in his image. Jango’s death in the opening battle of the Clone Wars sparked Boba’s hatred of the Jedi and started him down the path to becoming the legend he is now.

Mandalore the Ultimate – Ancient Mandalorians were ruled by a warlord named Mandalore. In addition to being the name of a planet, “Mandalore” is also an honorific bestowed to anyone skilled and bloodthirsty enough to dominate all challengers and claim the ceremonial helmet. Mandalore the Ultimate was the greatest of these warlords, leading his people in battle against the Jedi before finally being defeated by Revan and Malak. Revan hid Mandalore’s helmet, bringing a shameful end to a once-proud legacy.

Canderous Ordo – This Mandalorian mercenary is one of the main characters in Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. In the first game, Ordo joins the amnesiac main character’s quest to defeat Darth Malak, not realizing that character is actually his former enemy, Darth Revan. Revan later helps Ordo recover the lost helmet of Mandalore, after which Ordo renames himself Mandalore the Preserver.

Duchess Satine Kryze – The Duchess rules Mandalore in the time of the Clone Wars, fighting to maintain her world’s neutrality in a time of great devastation. She faces turmoil within and without, particularly from the rebel faction known as Death Watch, which includes her sister Bo-Katan Kryze as a member. Satine is a close friend (and possibly once a lover) of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Her death at the tail-end of the Clone Wars is one of the defining tragedies of Obi-Wan’s life.

Pre Vizsla – Pre Vizsla is the governor of Mandalore’s moon, Concordia, the leader of Death Watch and wielder of an ancient lightsaber called the Darksaber. He leads an uprising against Duchess Satine and the Mandalorian government during the Clone Wars. However, in his moment of triumph Vizsla is usurped and killed by his former ally, Darth Maul.

Sabine WrenSabine Wren is a fiercely independent Mandalorian refugee who joins the Rebel Alliance. However, Sabine is also a member of a noble Mandalorian family. She reluctantly embraces her destiny and helps overthrow Mandalore’s Imperial rulers, freeing her homeworld for the first time in decades.

The Mandalorian – Little is known about the eponymous main character of the upcoming live-action series The Mandalorian. Even his true name is a mystery (which is probably significant). All we know is that he lives as a gunfighter on the fringes of the galaxy in the years following the collapse of the Empire, and he may have a part to play as his homeworld emerges from under decades of Imperial rule and charts a new course for itself.

Mandalore: Origin and Background

The concept of Mandalore first emerged as George Lucas was writing The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas and artists Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston envisioned a series of elite, Jedi-killing commandos called Super Troopers, all wearing identical white armor and hailing from the Mandalore system. That character design was instead ultimately used to create Boba Fett.

Ralph McQuarrie's original concept design for Boba Fett.

Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept design for Boba Fett.

Much like other key Star Wars names like “Palpatine” and “Ewoks,” the word “Mandalorian” is never actually spoken in the original Star Wars trilogy. Instead, Fett’s early, meager back-story was established through ancillary projects like Marvel’s Star Wars comic and the official newsletter Bantha Tracks. The latter suggested Fett wore the armor of ancient Imperial shock troopers who were mostly wiped out battling the Jedi. That limited back-story was used as a foundation for various Expanded Universe comics and novels in the ’90s and Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic games.

However, the definitive history of Mandalore wasn’t established until Lucas revisited the concept in 2002’s Attack of the Clones. That movie introduced Jango Fett and provided the official origin story for Boba Fett. Lucas then used the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars to introduce his vision of the planet Mandalore, a desert world dominated by Cubist architecture. Both The Clone Wars and its successor, Star Wars Rebels, greatly fleshed out the characters and conflicts fueling Mandalore during the time of the movies, introducing key characters like Satine Kryze, Pre Vizsla and Sabine Wren.

Because Disney has yet to explore the distant past of the Star Wars timeline, it’s unclear how much of the classic Legends stories may remain in play. With rumblings of a Knights of the Old Republic-inspired movie in the works, that’s bound to change sooner or later.

How The Mandalorian Fits In

The culture of Mandalore will be integral to the upcoming Disney+ series The Mandalorian. That series stars Pedro Pascal as the titular lone gunfighter, while also introducing new characters like ex-Rebel trooper Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), a bounty hunting guild leader who hires the Mandalorian to carry out a dangerous mission.

How closely The Mandalorian will tie into past Star Wars series like The Clone Wars and Rebels remains to be seen. The series is set in the far fringes of the galaxy several years after the events of Return of the Jedi. That may limit how much The Mandalore is able to draw in familiar characters and conflicts or how much fans will actually see the planet Mandalore.

On the other hand, the series will focus a great deal on the struggle characters like Cara Dune face in moving on from the long, destructive war between the Rebellion and the Empire. In many ways, that conflict mirrors the one facing Mandalore itself after the fall of the Empire. Like his homeworld, the Mandalorian will have to choose what role he wants to play in a politically unstable galaxy.

Lucasfilm has yet to reveal the true name of Pascal’s character, instead opting for a “Man With No Name” approach. This raises the question of whether there’s a greater purpose to this secrecy. Is the character’s name being kept secret because it’s a spoiler? Is he related to another famous Mandalorian? For all we know, he could even be Boba Fett. The Expanded Universe previously established that Fett eventually escaped the Sarlacc and returned to his bounty hunting ways, so the same could hold true for Disney’s Star Wars universe.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.

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