Helmet and Hood
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the television show The Mandalorian.
The show, The Mandalorian, has produced the most memeable character to ever be on television, Baby Yoda. By far the most popular character, Baby Yoda is undoubtedly in part responsible for the massive hype that the show has built in its 8 episode run. Other factors such as the show being a Star Wars franchise and the first live-action show to premiere on Disney Plus have induced such hype. The show has dealt with this hype brilliantly and has exceeded expectations with a riveting plot that takes place in a previously unseen setting of Star Wars. It does so by incorporating unique and fresh characters while maintaining a western feel inside the world of Star Wars. Our main character, Mando, is a seemingly emotionless and calculating bounty hunter who will do whatever it takes to complete a bounty and move on to the next. However, the development that character sees throughout the series reveals his extremely complex nature, as he maintains a stoic facade in an attempt to hide deep-seated emotional trauma. Watching the show, the character of Mando struck me as familiar and created a sense of nostalgia within me. He is more than just the prototypical, resourceful gunslinger that we see in characters like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo or Clint Eastwood’s man with no name. The Mandalorian is far more similar to Lord of the Rings’ own hero, Aragorn.
The comparisons that can be made between the Mandalorian and Aragorn are boundless. The two of them are members of a mysterious creed with the Mandalorian a member of the Mandalorian tribe and Aragorn a member of the Rangers. Both of them seem to be independent to a fault, not letting anyone in, waiting in the shadows, and doing what they must. They keep others at a distance, revealing very little about their own lives. These traits help hide who they truly are and do not tell the story of the very deep and complex emotional identities that the two of them have. Aragorn’s complex nature stems from his heritage. The son of the previous king of Gondor, he is unsure as to whether or not he can rise to the challenge of ruling an entire kingdom. Instead of stepping up as an outspoken king, he remains in his own head, maintaining an unassuming demeanor where one could not tell that he could even be a soldier, much less the heir to the largest kingdom in Middle-Earth. The Mandalorian while having no royal heritage, still finds himself supressing his emotions. As revealed in the final episode of the first season, he was taken in as a child by the Mandalorians after his people were massacred by a Separatist army. Such an event inevitably hosts deep emotional trauma. He keeps this complex side of him locked away, not revealing this to anyone until Moff Gideon exposes his identity to his allies. Immensely private, he isn’t willing to reveal his face to anyone, let alone his traumatic past. He does not take off his helmet until the final episode, where he reveals his face to a droid. Similarly, through the beginning of the Lord of the Rings story, Aragorn keeps his face hidden with a hood in an attempt to remain unassuming. The two characters seem to be at odds with the world around them and thus maintain an extremely introverted nature to preserve their lives in places where politics and general disarray are the forefront of much of their respective stories.
Though the two characters keep their emotional side repressed, there are moments which they reveal a softness in their personalities. A major show of Aragorn’s soft side is when it comes to his wife Arwen. He shows deep love for her and is extremely regretful when she gives up immortality to remain with him. It is clear he cares deeply for Arwen and sees her as far more than just his wife, but as a companion. The closest thing to romance we see of the Mandalorian is his relationship with Omera, the widowed mother who lives in the village that he and Cara protect. While there is no explicit romantic expression between the two of them, the Mandalorian treats her with tenderness and reveals to her that he was adopted by the Tribe and tells her why he wears his helmet. Additionally, the two characters are extremely caring for those they have a deep respect for. At the end of Return of the King, Aragorn, in a tear-jerking scene, tells his hobbit friends that they shouldn’t bow before him as they “bow to no one.” He and his entire kingdom proceed to bow down in front of Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. Similarly, after Kuiil, the vapor farmer on the planet of Nevarro is killed by two Stormtroopers, the Mandalorian buries his body. In another, surprisingly, emotional moment, the Mandalorian pays his respects to one of the most well-liked and important characters in the show. Moreover, both Aragorn and the Mandalorian both reveal their deep compassion for seemingly important characters. Aragorn soothes Théodred’s horse, Brego, after witnessing his master’s death. He proves his compassion towards smaller or less important creatures as he takes the time to make sure that a horse is soothed after a presumably traumatic event. Similarly, the Mandalorian’s compassion can be seen throughout the entire series with his affinity for the Child (Baby Yoda). The Mandalorian goes so far as to take on an entire Imperial army in order to protect the Child. He draws from his own past of the Mandalorians saving him as he does the same for another creature, even though the Child is at first seemingly unimportant and useless. Immanuel Kant put it best: “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” While the Child can hardly be considered an animal, both characters’ actions are a testament to their deep compassion and empathy as they care for creatures, no matter how great or small.
The characters of the Mandalorian and Aragorn have their clear similarities with one another. The two are quiet, resourceful, and practical soldiers that are part of their own respective clans. However, once you dig deeper, you can see how their complex and individual personalities influence many of their actions. Their pasts are the causes of many deep-seated insecurities and traumas that in turn lead to the way they see the world and its inhabitants. While we are yet to see the full story of the Mandalorian, it is probable that the writers are taking the character through a very complex and personal story arc. We will just have to wait another 8 months to see.