“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
— Romans 8:14-17
Legacy has always been the beating heart of the Star Wars saga, so it is no surprise that it would be the prevailing theme of The Mandalorian. Many of the characters talk in terms of legacy, from Boba Fett laying claim to his father’s armor by his right, to Bo-Katan and her desire to continue the legacy of a glorious Mandalore through her established reign. Din Djarin himself is a character steeped in a religious kind of legacy through the Way of the Mandalore. From their Foundling Creed of adoption to their sacred stance of never removing their helmets, we are introduced to this character who upholds The Way very strictly and obediently, even to the point where he would rather die than have anyone remove his helmet. Whether this legacy is a zealous cult or a holy creed is something that is still as yet being explored for the character, but I think there is an interesting correlation happening between the Foundling Creed and the strict mask policy of The Way. They’re two ideas that seem unrelated to each other on the surface, but I believe they have a deeper symbolic meaning for the characters and the Star Wars mythos itself.
“I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
Legacy in Star Wars was born from the idea of fatherhood. When we think in terms in legacy, the first thing that comes to mind is family – from parent to child. Having children is an act of preserving legacy not just for the purpose of reproduction itself, but to preserve a family name, ideals, and heritage. Human history is constructed by legacy. Whether by passing oral traditions or by establishing kingdoms, houses, tribes, and dynasties throughout various cultures, it is a critical part of our humanity to pass down to our children something better or something worth preserving for their benefit. It is a future-oriented thinking that values our children as recipients so that they may flourish. This legacy, in turn for the children, becomes a testament of their identity as sons and daughters, showing they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and that they are loved and claimed as part of a kingdom, literally or figuratively. They are not orphans but family – a clan.
In the original trilogy, it was part of Luke Skywalker’s journey to trust in his own family’s legacy by believing in the redemption of his father, Anakin Skywalker. At first there is a threat that this legacy was that of Darth Vader, as Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi, even Luke himself, believed that maybe the Dark Side was too tempting and seductive to ignore, and he would follow in his father’s mistakes. It was with glorious triumph when Luke overcame those darker temptations of fear, hate, and power to the saving of his father’s soul, proving that the Skywalker legacy was much stronger and deeper than even the power of the Dark Side.
In The Mandalorian we are met with the idea of fatherhood yet again, as Din Djarin finds himself falling in love and rescuing a force-sensitive child named Grogu from the clutches of a growing new Empire. As we later discover, Grogu is one of the “younglings” (despite him being 50 years old!) that was able to escape the slaughter during Order 66. From the moment of their first meeting, we know that Din would do absolutely anything for this Child, even violate the Bounty Hunter Code to the extreme. He not only takes back “the asset”, but with the help of his fellow Mandalorians, he completely decimates members of the Guild for good measure. This abiding love for the Child sets him on a dangerous quest to find “its own kind”, which in this case is the Jedi. This inevitably puts him the crosshairs of the formidable Moff Gideon. Yet, significantly, this love is shown to go very deep as Din isn’t just acting like a father, he is as his father. The Armorer declares to Din: "A foundling is in your care. By creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind, you are as its father."
As part of their Creed, Mandalorians are never to leave any child abandoned on the battlefield or mission field, but instead bring them back to their people or receiving them as part of The Watch. There is this theme of adoption and family woven into Din Djarin’s very character and code - so strong that even characters he meets along the way cannot help but feel his same convictions to love and protect The Child. We even come to discover that Din himself was a foundling, who was saved by The Watch during the Fall of the Republic. Din was adopted into a family, and now he adopts Grogu as his own.
In the Scriptures, God’s people are said to be His adopted sons and daughters, as it says in Ephesians 1:4-6: “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” - and God Himself is called, “Father to the fatherless” (Psalms 68). Christ lays out this promise to us in John 14:18-19, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” We have this hope of adoption as sons, and we are to trust in God as our father, which inevitably leads us into a beautiful kind of legacy. For if we begin to unpack Romans 8:14-17: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit that abides in a born-again Christian is a testament to his adoption, and it is by this Spirit that we can call him “Father” or “Abba” - the Greek word here that expresses “warm affection and filial confidence.” It has said to have “no perfect equivalent in our language." This word is used to express a profound and deep kind of love between a father and son. It is a love that reaches to the heart, and through it we are given identity (The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...”), and we see that this identity comes with heirship (“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God…”) - and this heirship is described as a co-heirship: “…fellow heirs with Christ.”
This is our legacy.
We are entering into Christ’s finished work when we become sons of God, a legacy established before the foundations of the world: “[…] everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” (Rev 13:8) This legacy was given to us joyfully: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) And it was given to us through great sacrifice and servanthood: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in in Christ Jesus, who, though, he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself be becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
This is what it means to be a Father. This is what it means for Him to provide a legacy for His children, giving them hope, identity, and a family.
“You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are possession of, but you do not. Soon he will be back with me. He means more to me than you will ever know.” - Din Djarin
Yet there is something deeper here at work in regard to ‘fatherhood’ and ‘legacy’. Let’s rewind a bit and go back to this idea of the Mandalorian helmets – of masking one’s face. This is a concept that shows up repeatedly in Star Wars. We have Darth Vader’s iconic mask, and we have Kylo Ren who practically worships the broken remnants of Vader’s mask, donning one of his own. For both Anakin and Kylo, the mask is symbolic of their turn to the Dark Side, representing this distortion of their identities, as they shield themselves from the Light. For Anakin, he was literally disfigured through his turn to the Dark Side, and for Kylo it is a self-made identity, a warped sense of belonging he has created for himself. Din Djarin’s reasons for wearing his helmet are not in the same vein as Vader and Kylo, but there is a similar “unveiling” that happens at the end of each of their stories. I could not help but draw a visual comparison to the ending of Return of the Jedi as Anakin Skywalker, now saved through the love of his son, implores Luke to remove his mask, as he desires to see Luke “with his own eyes.” In their final moments together, Father and Son behold one another face to face. There is redemption and there is love. In a similar vein, at the end of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Din removes his helmet before Grogu leaves, and here again Father and Son are able to behold each other. There is no obstruction or veil between them, but a complete love – a love that comes with knowing.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:12
Here lies what I believe is the true legacy of what is being shown. There is this layering happening with fatherhood and ‘unmasking’, an unusual juxtaposition of ideas and imagery. What does fatherhood have to do with the idea of “seeing” or – even more significantly – of knowing? What was the significance of Anakin looking on Luke with “his own eyes” if not to show how the bond between a Father and Son is transparent, that this kind of love goes to the very heart of one’s personhood? It is a love that triumphs, that transforms, that redeems, and most importantly of all – reveals. A true Father and Son look upon one another with a bold and clear face, hearts unveiled completely and utterly. This is the kind of relationship Christ has with His Father, and in turn, that we have with Him: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father […]” (John 10:14-15)
This is what makes Din Djarin’s actions at the end of The Mandalorian so profound. He comes from a sect that keeps their faces hidden from all, but he actively and willingly chooses to reveal himself to little Grogu. His act of fatherly love is an act of unveiling.
What does Din do after taking his mask off? He reassures Grogu, comforts him, and tells him not to be afraid. Remember that Ahsoka had mentioned to Din how Grogu has fear in his heart because of his having to hide his abilities and experiencing so much trauma as a force-sensitive child. Even though Grogu has chosen to call upon Luke Skywalker, he still doesn’t feel comfortable leaving Din until he gets Din’s approval and reassurance. He needs his fears to be calmed - and what did the Romans 8 verses say? “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [...]” It is the true love of a father that removes all fear. Furthermore, Din also comforts Grogu with the promise that they will see each other again. A father doesn’t abandon his children. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
In this one simple moment of “unveiling” between Din and Grogu, this iconic act of imagery in the Star Wars saga profoundly summarizes the transformative, identity-giving relationship between father and son. This is why it is so beautiful that Luke Skywalker would be the one to whom Din Djarin would give Grogu to be trained and who showed up to save them in just the right moment, as Din and Grogu’s story is shown to be intrinsically connected to Luke Skywalker’s legacy. Grogu is seen entering into that legacy at the end of season two of The Mandalorian.
What is that legacy? Why, it’s the legacy of the Light: the abiding, eternal love between a father and his son.
“Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
— 2 Corinthians 3:15-18