Only a franchise as gleefully dumb as Star Wars could drop a major tease via the medium of...secret emojis?
Last week, Disney and Lucasfilm kicked off the brand new final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on social media with an array of new emoji-accompanied character hashtags on social media. A mention of #TheCloneWars or #Ahsoka, for example, would give you a cutesy, 100Soft-designed iteration of everyone’s favorite Jedi-no-more, for example. But when announcing them, Disney teased that there was one more secret emoji that fans would have to uncover themselves:
Oh, and there might just be one more emoji to uncover… Has anyone found it?
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) February 22, 2020
It didn’t take those fans long, of course, because they’re Star Wars fans, and therefore nothing if not relentless in their desire for information. As Polygon notes, eagle-eyed fans discovered via the Hashflags twitter account (archives of every created emoji-hashtag on the platform) that the secretive emoji could be summoned via #TheMauldalorian, attaching a traditional Mandalorian helmet that features the Zabrak head-spikes of the ex-Sith schemer:
— Hashflags (@HashflagArchive) February 21, 2020
This isn’t some weird riff on mixing together Clone Wars hype with The Mandalorian – don’t expect Sam Witwer to suddenly show up somehow alive again and ready to nab himself Baby Yoda. The “Mauldalorian” is an intriguing reference to not just Maul’s place in The Clone Wars’ final season, and his eventual journey on Star Wars Rebels, but a callout to Clone Wars’ untold history, now being delved into at long last thanks to its return.
When Clone Wars first ended, it left Maul in a strange place; he’d just led a successful coup on Mandalore that had ended with the Death Watch in control of the planet, and, one quick betrayal later (it’s Maul, after all), Maul at its head. When the Death Watch splintered between those for and against Maul’s duplicitous play, the Mandalorians that sided with him formed the Mandalorian Supercommandos, who supported his ever-growing Shadow Collective Crime Syndicate.
They modified their armor in turn, adopting black-and-red markings to emulate Maul’s tattoos and forging spikes onto their helmets to emulate their leader. Although their time in Clone Wars was brief, the Supercommandos, now lead by Gar Saxon, eventually showed up again in Star Wars Rebels as willing supporters of the Empire’s rule on Mandalore.
The Supercommandos liberate Maul from Palpatine’s incarceration in the first issue of Son of Dathomir.Image: Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas, Wes Dzioba, and Michael Heisler (Dark Horse/Marvel)
While we’ll see Maul’s control on Mandalore falter in Clone Wars’ final season in the Siege of Mandalore story arc – something Clone Wars co-creator Dave Filoni has spent years teasing at convention panels and in interviews – the Supercommandos’ most prominent appearance up to this point is in a fascinating part of Clone Wars’ unfinished history.
When the show was first canceled shortly after Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney, plans to use unfilmed script ideas for the show’s future were cast out into the ether of Star Wars’ expanded universe. Some were turned into novels. Some ideas were used in the truncated sixth season, “Lost Missions,” that went to Netflix. Some yet still were released online as unfinished animatics. Some, like the Siege of Mandalore and several others, will now serve as finally-finished episodes part of this new season on Disney+.
But one storyline revolving around Maul became one of the last Star Wars comic series released by Dark Horse before Disney handed the license over to Marvel, and it’s there we got to see the Supercommandos most. Son of Dathomir depicted Palpatine’s shadow war against both Maul and Mother Talzin’s Nightsister Force witches, in an attempt to cull Dark Side opposition before his coup to overthrow the Republic once and for all was put into action, establishing an important narrative throughline between what we’d seen on Clone Wars and what we’d know was to come on Rebels for Maul.
Although Son of Dathomir is one of the rare old-EU works still considered part of the current Star Wars canon due to it being based on Clone Wars scripts (which was one of the few non-movie pieces of material that survived the canonical transition, thanks to George Lucas’ direct involvement in the series), it would seem that Clone Wars’ final season will delve into the Supercommandos and their relationship to Maul even further. That is, if we’re willing to put a little faith in an emoji.