The Tusken Raiders have always been the villains of the Tatooine desert, but The Mandalorian turned their famous battle cry into a celebration.
The Mandalorian season 2 premiere gave the Tusken Raiders a reason to celebrate, but this time their famous battle cry was a good thing. In previous Star Wars canon, Tusken Raiders were painted as the villains of the Tatooine desert, and their battle cry was used during attacks on humans or to signal their oncoming violence. However, the Mandalorian’s peaceful dealings with the Tuskens have changed the context of their actions, and now their cries are used in celebration. Instead of viewing them as villains, the new stories have fleshed out the Tusken Raiders into a full culture, allowing fans to view their battle cries in a different light. The Mandalorian turned the Tusken Raiders into potential allies, which dramatically affects their past and future.
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In Star Wars movies, the Tusken Raiders were given little complexity. A Tusken attacked Luke Skywalker in A New Hope while he was observing them, using the notorious battle cry for the first time. The Empire later then tried to frame the Tusken Raiders for the attack on the Jawa sandcrawler that had salvaged R2-D2 and C3PO, knowing that humans less savvy than Obi-Wan Kenobi would easily blame the villainized Raiders. Kenobi knew enough about Tusken Raider culture to scare Raiders off without violence and spot the Empire’s frame job, but the Tuskens themselves were still relegated to the role of savage attacker. The prequels were even worse, as Anakin Skywalker murdered an entire settlement of Tusken Raiders, including women and children, as revenge for them taking his mother prisoner and causing her death. The Tusken Raiders uttered their battle cries while coming to defense of their village, but that’s not the context the movie focuses on. Though this is a major step in Anakin’s path to the dark side, the Tusken Raiders are barely treated as people deserving of mercy in the narrative. Throughout these movies, their battle cries are only heard while they’re attacking, a terrifying sound with no depth of meaning.
The Mandalorian made major changes to the portrayal of the Tusken Raiders, including recontextualizing their famous battle cry. Mandalorian Din Djarin treats the Raiders as indigenous people of Tatooine, acknowledges their claim over the desert land, and uses the Tusken Raiders’ unique sign language to negotiate with them. The new revelation of their sign language means the battle cries heard in the films are only part of their system of communication. They easily communicate with Djarin about permission to cross their land and their efforts to deal with the krayt dragon, showing that the Tusken Raiders were always capable of speaking and negotiating with the people around them. The humans just didn’t make the effort to communicate with them.
The Tusken Raiders celebrate the slaying of the krayt dragon with their battle cry in The Mandalorian season 2 premiere, but the story makes it a sound of celebration alongside their human allies. The show finally fixed George Lucas’ mistakes with the Tusken Raiders, growing them beyond the stereotyped role of raider, attacker, and obstacle to humans. Since they are no longer always enemies to the main characters, their battle cries are no longer simply associated with violence. Given the Tusken-human alliance over the krayt dragon was successful, the two groups are likely to put their conflict aside on a permanent basis and have more reason to celebrate together in the future, so fans may continue to hear the Tusken battle cry in its new context.
The Mandalorian keeps finding himself among the Tusken Raiders, and the indigenous people of Tatooine are certain to appear again, especially as Boba Fett’s new weapons show his connection to the Tusken Raiders. As Boba Fett’s story unfolds, the Tuskens could be potential allies again in his story of survival in the harsh Tatooine desert. The Tusken Raiders will soon be back and in greater numbers. The Mandalorian will have plenty of opportunities to continue expanding the complexity of the Tuskens, their culture, and their battle cries.
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