The HoloFiles

Who is Cobb Vanth and What Role May He Play in The Mandalorian?

By George Bate

With the newest season of The Mandalorian less than one week away, we thought this would be a good time to explore one of the more interesting, less discussed rumors about season 2. Amidst a whole host of rumored, exciting new additions to The Mandalorian, the potential inclusion of Sheriff Cobb Vanth may be one of the more unexpected, intriguing character additions this season. As initially reported by Slash Film, Timothy Olyphant (Justified, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Deadwood) is set to appear in the upcoming season of the Disney+ series, potentially donning the iconic Boba Fett armor. This rumor sparked much discussion regarding Olyphant’s role in the show, with many positing that the actor will play a character named Cobb Vanth. So, who is Vanth and what sort of role could he play when we see the continued adventures of Din Djarin and The Child next week?

Who is Cobb Vanth?

Cobb Vanth first appeared in an interlude chapter in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath and subsequently appeared in Aftermath: Life Debt and Aftermath: Empire’s End. Once a slave, as denoted by a distinctive scar on his back, Cobb Vanth was the sheriff of Mos Pelgo (later named Freetown), a town on the planet Tatooine. Vanth’s history as a slave inspired him to seek freedom and justice for others, protecting his town from scum and villany following the Battle of Endor.

When we first see Vanth, the sheriff is shown navigating the tumultuous underworld scene on Tatooine following the death of Jabba the Hutt. Jabba’s death led to a series of crime syndicates trying to assert their claim on the planet. One of these crime syndicates was the Red Key Raiders, who sent a representative named Adwin Charu to scout the aftermath of Jabba’s leadership. While bartering with Jawas, Charu encountered Sheriff Vanth, who helped the Red Key raider negotiate for scrap droids, weapons, and mining equipment. In searching the Jawas’ sandcrawler, however, Charu and Vanth came across wreckage of Jabba’s sail barge, including a set of Mandalorian battle armor. Vanth came out on top in a dispute to claim the Mandalorian armor, with Vanth letting Charu go if Charu told his superiors to stay out of the sector. Although the Mandalorian armor Vanth claims in Star Wars: Aftermath is not explicitly identified as Boba Fett’s armor, it is heavily implied.

In the near future, Vanth is seen donning his Mandalorian armor as the mayor of Freetown. Freetown recently withstood an attack from the Red Key Raiders, once again trying to assert themselves in the region. During this attack, the Raiders tried to smuggle a young Hutt into a Freetown palace, but failed in their attempt, leaving the infant with Vanth. Following these events, Vanth saves the life of Malakili, the Rancor keeper in Jabba’s Palace seen in Return of the Jedi, from several Red Key Raiders. Upon saving Malakili’s life, Vanth offered the former beastmaster residence in Freetown as a caretaker for the young Hutt and several creatures in town. Vanth’s empathic actions toward Malakili highlight an admirable feature of the sheriff’s personality in his belief that everybody has importance.

Vanth’s journey in canon continued when Vanth and Malakili struck a deal with local Tusken Raiders to protect Freetown in exchange for water. Soon after, the leader of the Red Key Raiders named Lorgan Movellan organized an attack and, subsequently, a successful takeover of Freetown. While imprisoned, one of Movellan’s thugs knocked out Malakili, which led the young Borgo to cry out for his caretaker. Borgo’s cries alerted the Tusken Raiders, who arrived on the scene and helped Vanth take back his town from  the Red Key Raiders. Vanth was unphased by the empty threats of a defeated Movellan and proceeded to carve something onto the crime lord’s face as a warning to other gangsters to stay away from Tatooine.

Why Do We Think Cobb Vanth Could Appear in The Mandalorian?

Vanth’s inclusion in the upcoming season of The Mandalorian makes sense for several reasons. For starters, the initial report about Timothy Olyphant’s casting detailed that the actor will wear the Boba Fett armor in the series. As we know with some certainty that Temeura Morrison will play Boba in The Mandalorian, there is only one character established in canon so far who we know also wears the Boba Fett armor – Cobb Vanth.

Olyphant’s casting itself is another indicator that Vanth may appear in the new Disney+ season. Olyphant is perhaps best known for this role as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, another lawman with quite a few similarities to Vanth. But Olyphant’s portrayal of lawmen doesn’t end with his performance in Justified. Olyphant previously played Sheriff Seth Bullock in HBO’s Deadwood series and television movie and later played Sheriff David Dutten in 2010’s zombie horror film The Crazies. Most recently, Olyphant played James Stacy, an actor portraying a sheriff in the Western television series Lancer, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Needless to say, Olyphant has carved quite the reputation in Hollywood as a lawman, making his casting as Sheriff Cobb Vanth in The Mandalorian fairly logical.

What Role May Vanth Play in The Mandalorian?

Perhaps the most interesting question to ponder is, if Olyphant is in The Mandalorian and he is indeed playing Cobb Vanth, how would the sheriff of Freetown fit into The Mandalorian Season 2? Well, as the footage for the upcoming season reveals, Din Djarin will be returning to Tatooine this season after making a trip to the planet in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. There are also significant rumors suggesting that Boba Fett will play a role in the new season and, as we know from the events of Return of the Jedi, Boba met his ‘demise’ on Tatooine. If Boba is indeed in the new season of The Mandalorian, it makes sense that the series would showcase how the infamous bounty hunter retrieves his armor from its current owner Cobb Vanth.

Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand is also set to appear again in The Mandalorian, after last being seen approached by a mysterious figure in Chapter 5. After the brilliant conclusion of Dave Filoni’s episode, many fans speculated as to who this shadowy figure was. Listening closely to the scene clearly highlights that the dinging of the armor resembles the noises Boba Fett’s armor made in the original trilogy, leading many to suggest Fennec Shand was being approached by Fett himself. However, rumors of Olyphant’s inclusion in the series have changed the way fans look at this scene, with the shadowy figure being Vanth, rather than Boba, seeming more likely. Vanth’s approach of Shand would make sense given the sheriff’s leaning as a righteous lawman prioritizing the safety and security of Tatooine. If Shand is a deadly assassin and mercenary, it’s clear she would be someone Vanth is interested in capturing. 

Vanth’s potential inclusion in The Mandalorian has several intriguing implications. For instance, if Vanth is in the show, we could see a return of Malakili and even the young Borgo the Hutt. While these appearances may be seemingly inconsequential for casual fans, hardcore Star Wars fans will love to see the return of the iconic Rancor keeper if this indeed happens.

Looking Forward…

While Vanth’s inclusion in The Mandalorian is a mere rumor at this point, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest the sheriff, first introduced in the Aftermath series by Chuck Wendig, will make his live-action debut in the upcoming season. Vanth, a well-intentioned sheriff in the vein of the classic Western films’ trope, certainly plays into the space Western vibe that The Mandalorian is trying to achieve. And Olyphant, given his extensive, acclaimed past of portraying lawmen, seems like a great choice to bring the character to life, if this is indeed the case. Looking forward, it’ll be interesting to see if this rumor becomes reality and, more broadly speaking, what the highly anticipated series of The Mandalorian has in store for all of us. Stay tuned to more The Mandalorian Season 2 content moving forward!

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, Sony, and FX.

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