I know I talk mostly about literature, because I have studied literature, being one of my favourite topics the gothic, fantasy, ecological studies and also feminist. But I love Star Wars too.
Star wars came in my life before anything else, I cannot clearly remember when. It would be very weird not to have grown up watching the films and waiting for some of them to come out.
(I am of the generation of the prequels).
But while I had been studying feminist theory for my thesis and writing my thesis, The Mandalorian episodes were coming out, and of course, I could not miss them.
In this entry, I am going to analyse Din Djarin, the main character of the series from a gender perspective.
Be aware that this article contains spoilers from The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian is a TV series streamed for the first time, last year on Disney plus. It is supposed to take place after Star Wars film episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. It tells us how things were before the creation of the First Order and explains us more about what we saw in the sequels. It is a bridge between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
The description of the serie is the following:
“After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. “The Mandalorian” is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic”.Taken from Disney Plus website.
From the description, we are sold a hero: “another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe”.
Usually, heroes and warriors are presented as powerful masculine characters. Tall, strong, showing no pain, and so many muscles. The character usually has the role to save or protect a woman.
(Luckily not the case or I won’t be writing this entry). Well, in Star Wars universe we can also analyse how powerful female characters are, but that is another story…
In the first episode of The Mandalorian, we see Mando. We don’t know his name. We see him as a typical hero that is strong and seems to be very powerful. We may believe it is going to follow the typical masculine convention.
We see him doing his duty as a bounty hunter. He fights very good and seems to be unsoft when he is talked to.
He seems to care only about the task The Client gave him: to capture a creature and deliver it to him.
When Djarin meets the child (Baby Yoda), another side of the character slowly comes to light. It is artistically done without dialogue but rather when he touches the baby’s little hand.
We might ask ourselves what he is going to do in the next episode as it finishes with the encounter of those two characters.
In episode II we are able to see more about Djarin’s personality. We see him enraged with the Jawas because they destroyed the Rasor Crest (his ship). We know he has abilities to fight. But what is more interesting here is the way he reacts when he and Baby Yoda face the mudhorn.
Again, something beautiful about this series is that the character’s actions are mostly seen in acting performance rather than in speech.
Mando is losing the battle against the mudhorn. It is the first time the audience sees him suffering. He can suffer, he is not the muscular, powerful hero which present conventional masculine ideas: you cannot cry, you cannot suffer because you are a man. He is not the over idealised man. Despite he is strong, Din Djarin is a human being. He can get hurt, he is not immortal, he is loosing against the mudhorn, which is more powerful.
And Baby Yoda saves him, helps him to defeat the mudhorn. This is not only an important moment for the child, as it gives us clues about that adorable character. But also because it gives us a better understanding of Mando. This is a modern masculine character, a man that is not the great and powerful master of the world.
After Baby Yoda helps him, if the mandalorian had followed a conventional masculine hero, he would not have cared about the baby at all.
Instead, when the episode is almost finishing, he checks on Baby Yoda and makes sure he is all right. Remember, the Client had told him that he could bring him alive or dead. If Mando had really followed the masculine convention of only caring for the results, he would not have been worried about Baby Yoda falling asleep after using the force.
Episode III “The Sin”, clears out our possible doubts of what type of character our protagonist is. In the beginning, Baby Yoda wants to reach a nob of the Rasor Crest’s controls. And Mando tells him: “It’s not a toy”. This sentence is crucial for understanding Djarin. He tells that sentence in a paternal tone, he picks up the child and softly puts him back on his cradle. If he had followed the conventional masculinity, he could have just picked up the child without a word. He says what a father or a mother would have said. Yes, our hero has those attributes as well as being a great warrior.
When Mando deliveries Baby Yoda to the Client, he encounters some Stormtroopers who doesn’t care about the baby and Mando says: “Easy with that“, he is taking care of the child’s security. He urges them to treat Baby Yoda carefully as a mother/father would do with her child.
When Mando presents Baby Yoda to the Client, the Child cries out for Djarin to save him and don’t leave him there. And Mando does something incredible, he breaks the Bounty Code by asking: “What are your plans for it?“.
Amazing! Our hero does not only breaks the code, but he also breaks masculinity conventions completely: he is worried about a baby, men can also be soft, women are not the only ones who may take care of children, men can too.
We know Mando cannot go on without thinking about the baby. He tells the Mandalorian armourer that he cannot allow her to place a mudhorn siget on his armour because he was helped by someone who didn’t know he was his enemy. Later on, he asks Greff Karga what are the plans for the child, despite it is against the Guild Code.
When Djarin goes back to the Rasor Crest to get ready for another mission, he notices the nob of one of the controls is lying on the floor. It is the one Baby Yoda had caught as a toy. Again, here we see no words but acting. Mando remembers the child. It is not only a very beautiful dramatical moment, but also, another remarkable way of parting from conventional masculinity: a parent who remembers his child when seeing something he had played with.
And he goes back to save Baby Yoda.
Then we see him fighting against the stormtroopers like a hero, he is a strong man, a powerful man. Yet, is interesting to point out that in the fight to save the baby he uses the whistling birds the armourer had crafted for him and had said to use well because they are precious. Here, Mando does not care about saving weapons for a heroical battle to save himself alone. He is using his life and soul to save the baby. Usually in films and literature mothers are presented in that role: defending and protecting children, but here we see a man protecting a baby.
Once there was an art historician that said that images have the power to transform and change the way we perceive and see the world. When Mando takes Baby Yoda from the Client’s place, now he has to confront the Guild and Greff Karga. Here in a conventional masculine way, we could have seen Mando fighting and killing almost everyone, yes, because it is supposed to be a super masculine character. But no. We see something different, we see a human being.
Djarin wants to leave with the Child to the Rasor Crest: “I’m going to walk to my ship with the kid. And you are going to let it happen”. But he won’t have it easily. He tries to protect himself and the child but there are so many against him. When everything seems lost, we see him inside a speeder, and his body is protecting the child, he looks at him making sure he is all right.
Djarin is not only protecting the child with his own body but also, caressing him with his hand, as if he is wanting to calm down Baby Yoda.
To protect a baby with the body is usually associated with maternity. Feminist Helene Cixous suggests that woman express themselves with the body. Anthropologist suggests that rock art was produced inside caves because humans had seen the cave as a womb, as the female body that protects humanity.
Din Djarin is facing a horrible battle to protect Baby Yoda. He is loosing, but he takes care of the child, he protects the kid with his body. An attitude that is usually associated with feminine representations is seen in a masculine character. This suggests equality of gender and a breakdown of masculine conventions. (
Bravo this character is the right hero! We need more men like him)
As the show goes on, we see Djarin assuring Baby Yoda’s safety. He makes sure he eats, remember the soup, he wants the child to grow in peace.
In Episode Six “The Prisoner” Mando assures that the baby can be safely locked in his ship, save from his “friends” and the droid. Which at first Baby Yoda doesn’t understand but in the end, when he was almost killed by the droid he returns to his secret place where Mando had left him.
We see Din Djarin suffering and wondering what he must do. He is not the masculine character that knows everything and has no doubts and acts like a machine. He is a human being.
Let’s go to the last episode, Chapter Eight “Redemption”. Here we see once more that our hero can die, Mando is not immortal, he is not the conventional man who cannot show pain and weakness. He is almost dying after fighting against Moff Gideon and his army, aside with Cara Dune and Greff Karga. Din Djarin words to Cara are: “You make sure the child is safe… You tell them the foundling was in my protection and they would help you…” Mando is passing away but he cares for Baby Yoda’s safety even in that moment. Then he asks Cara to let him have the warrior’s death. A perfectly balanced character. Despite his will, he is not even able to move, Baby Yoda saves them all.
We know that the Mandalorians care about children because Din Djarin himself was saved by them when he was a child. And he becomes Baby Yoda’s father, the armourer confirms these words: “A founding is on your care. By Creed until is of age or reunited with his own kind, you are as its father“. But it is incredible how Djarin’s concern for the Child’s safety is strongly developed during the series, even before those words, which show us how this character breaks from the stereotyped conventional masculine hero.
It is more remarkable that Cara Dune has not so many maternal feelings like the ones Mando has towards Baby Yoda. Something that any stereotyped show might have presented, a woman taking care of a child. But here is the other way around, a man takes the task of taking care of a baby rather than a woman. An example is seen when the IG droid gave her the child she says: “Hang on. I don’t do the baby thing”. She does not interact so much with Baby Yoda. But because it is a choice, Mando chooses to take care of the Child, Cara is also allowed to choose not to care about Baby Yoda.
In The Mandalorian, we see our hero Din Djarin fighting in a very badass way, which is the conventional representation of men in action films.
But also we watch his paternal side, a behaviour which is usually not represented in those kinds of movies, where a conventional masculine hero is presented. We see him hurt, we know he can die. And all those little actions make us love him more, for he is not an over stereotyped masculine character, he is a human being.
Djarin follows a path feminist would approve.
(I do!) He cares about Baby Yoda as his own child, he protects him and makes sure he is safe.
I can name more events to analyse Din Djarin’s masculinity but I guess I had written a lot. This is not a blank page inviting me to write about why I love Din Djarin (Mando).
If you have any ideas, comments or want to join the discussion, leave a message in the comment section below or on Instagram. I would love to hear your thoughts!
* This article is based on my own personal reflections. Please do not use it without permission. This is my analysis.