Categories
Expanded Universe

What happens in the middle?

Most of the Star Wars stories are placed near the Galactic Civil War (GCW). It makes sense. The whole series started in the middle of that war and followed the storyline until the defeat of Palpatine at the battle of Endor.

The ensuing flood of expanded universe materials continued to tell the stories of those characters (Luke, Leia, and Han). Even as the EU material went beyond them to successive generations the story line of Star Wars only ever went a little over 100 years past Episode IV.

As George Lucas geared up to produce the Prequels there was a natural interest in the events surrounding that timeline. And within a few years we had another wave of material that explored the characters and stories of a Republic era that featured a Jedi Order, Clone Wars, galactic politics and more.

But even those plot lines were within 50 or so years of Episode IV. This meant that for decades the majority of stories that were told about Star Wars and given attention took place within about a 200-year window of time.

There was of course one exception: The Old Republic era. This was set several millennia before the movies and told the stories of Jedi and Sith wars, a Galactic Republic that was constantly pushing its borders, and mercenaries and figures like Mandalorians leaving their mark in the Wild West of the galaxy.

The Tales of the Jedi Comicbook series gave this era its focus and opened up to fans a new aspect of the universe that had before been unknown. That time period was revealed even more with the release of two video games: The Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) and its sequel Knight of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (TSL).

Painting of the valley of the tombs in Korriban.
Korriban and the Valley of Tombs. This planet served as a central feature in explaining the ancient Sith Empire and culture.

Both video games were an extraordinary experience and allowed the player to not only explore several worlds that we had only heard about before, but it delved deeply into the lore of Jedi and Sith. Several side-quests in both games made reference to stories and characters that had been introduced in Tales of the Jedi. Names like Naga Sadow, Exar Kun, and Ulic Qel-Droma were teased into the game further connecting it to the established lore.

The question I have today is this: What happens in the middle?

Specifically, what takes place in the universe in the 2ooo years between the end of the established Old Republic era, and the earliest stories of the GCW era. There are some references scattered throughout. But no treatments that are nearly as exhaustive as the Old Republic era gives us. So many stories are crammed on either side of the Battle of Yavin, and so much has been established about the events that took place 4000 years earlier. But there is still very little that explores the interim period.

It does not seem likely that the Disney-owned Lucasfilm will take time to explore this era. It’s more risky to establish entirely new and unfamiliar characters, places, and storylines. Even the Sequel trilogy while establishing new characters still tried to entrench themselves in established Star Wars tradition.

In retrospect developing the Old Republic era seems equally risky, but something that paid off massively in the end. While the old Lucasfilm might have been willing to take this risk 20 years ago, that same sense of adventure and chance of failure does not seem to permeate the Disney culture that Lucasfilm now lives in.

It’s also possible I am unaware of some franchise material that gives a treatment of this era. I would be happy to discover it and be pointed in the right direction.

But for the many centuries between the Sith Lords and the rise of Palpatine I have to ask what do you think happened? I’d love to hear any fan stories placed in this period.

Categories
Expanded Universe

Can We See More: Mandalorians

Can We See More is a series that looks at certain aspects of the Star Wars universe that were compelling and deserve a more thorough treatment in some form of media.

Current Mandalorian crest.
Image from Wookieepedia

Renewed Interested

One of the most anticipated media events to come out of Lucasfilm in the Disney era is certainly The Mandalorian. We’ve heard rumors for years of a live-action Star Wars series. But for all the development that took place over the years nothing ever materialized. Even after the success of the Clone Wars, when it seemed there was demand for Star Wars television, the pieces never lined up to bring a live-action series to fruition. That all changed of course with the release of Jon Favreau’s six-episode show in the Fall of 2019.

The Mandalorian delivered on many things that fans had wanted to see. It was a deep dive into the Star Wars universe, there were new interesting characters, captivating new places, and a plot that was compelling but still felt true to the Star Wars ethos.

The show also renewed interest in a famous yet still enigmatic part of the Star Wars universe: Mandalorians.

History

Mandalorians were introduced to the universe through one singular character, Boba Fett. His theatrical debut was in The Empire Strikes Back. However, the character was first shown to fans in the now infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. During a short animated film that took place in the middle of the live-action television special, the heroes were pitted against this faceless armor-wearing bounty hunter.

Boba Fett’s initial role was limited. After tracking down Han Solo and helping to deliver him over to Darth Vader he met his demise roughly a year later during the skirmish at the Great Pit of Carkoon. In this battle Fett was thrown into the Sarlacc pit where he presumably would be digested for the next millennium.

Of course Boba Fett’s contribution to the universe would not ultimately end there, and much more of his background would be fleshed out in books, comics, films, etc. But he still stands as our first introduction to a people/creed/group know as Mandalorians. A mysterious, honorable, code-following, armor wearing band of mercenaries.

The Disney+ show follows this group for its story. However, it is the much earlier nomadic clan that I am interested in. That’s what I want to see more of.

Mandalore

Crest of the Mandalorian Crusaders established by Mandalore the First. Image from Wookieepedia

The Star Wars universe has already developed quite a bit about Mandalorian history and culture. But there is still so much that could be explored and brought to life on screen. The Mandalorian people originally came from the planet Mandalore, which was conquered by Mandalore the First. According to the historical accounts given it was Mandalore that established the fierce warrior tribe that would one day span across the entire galaxy and bear his name. These events take place long before the Battle of Yavin, being set in the Old Republic era. (For reference Mandalore’s life was somewhere between 24,000 and 7,000 years before the Galactic Empire and battle over Yavin IV).

Some media in the Expanded Universe have given us glimpses of this original Mandalorian culture. The Knights of the Old Republic video game gives you a companion who is a Mandalorian warrior that fought in the Mandalorian wars.

What is described of those wars, is a large conflict between the Old Republic and a fierce group of Mandalorian fighters. Only the Sith Wars would eventually eclipse the calamity that Mandalorians were causing. Seeing this conflict on a screen somewhere would give us the opportunity to see a fresh new storyline that is still placed squarely inside of a familiar universe.

While Boba Fett, and the Mandalorians seen in the current show are intriguing characters and interesting to see in their own right, they are still only following in the steps of a far more robust and sophisticated culture that has been hinted at in many different places. But rarely given a full look for any length of time.

I’m not holding my breath for a series or movie about ancient Mandalorian culture and the wars fought between them and the Old Republic but it would certainly be something to see if there was.