Cad Bane is back!
For the first time since season four of The Clone Wars, the fan favorite bounty hunter made an appearance in a Star Wars series, showing up at the end of the most recent episode of The Bad Batch. It was quite unexpected and incredibly exciting, but it has raised a question amongst Star Wars fans.
The question surrounds an unfinished and unreleased arc of The Clone Wars in which Bane was going to train a young Boba Fett in the ways of bounty hunting, aiming to help the young Fett become every bit as skilled as a bounty hunter as his father was. This arc was also going to see Boba donning his father’s armor for the first time, and it would all culminate in a duel between Bane and Boba – for Bane’s intentions were train Boba to rival Jango, and then by defeating Boba would cement his place as the most formidable in the galaxy (a title he took from Jango, but only due to Fett’s untimely death). In the ensuing duel, both Bane and Boba would get shot (explaining how Boba got the dent in his helmet), and seemingly killing Cad Bane (though that’s never been confirmed). You can actually watch the unfinished rendering of this duel on Youtube, as all of this information was revealed by Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo during a panel on unfinished Clone Wars arcs at Celebration Anaheim 2015.
But now that Cad Bane has shown up in The Bad Batch, fans are wondering whether to still consider that story to be canon. After all, the duel that we got between Bane and Hunter was super similar to the one between Bane and Boba, so some have wondered whether that is meant to replace the other duel, or simply serve as a hint at another one to come.
There are certainly links between Bane’s appearance in The Bad Batch and the unfinished The Clone Wars arc, and they should be noted. For one, Bane’s updated outfit in this appearance is the same as the concept art for the bounty hunter arc. And as another tie, the concept art in the episode guide for this episode of The Bad Batch, “Reunion,” shows concept art for Bane’s ship, the Justifier. This concept art, drawn by Jason Pichon in late 2019, gives us a look at a ship that has yet to appear in any animated series – but did appear in the concept art for the unfinished arc of The Clone Wars. So even though they never completed that arc, Cad Bane’s appearance – and it looks like his ship – are going to be directly taken from it. That’s noteworthy. It could just be as simple as wanting to conserve resources, but it’s another piece to the puzzle.
But the strongest piece also comes from the concept art released in the episode guide. Also in late 2019, Angela Chen drew concept art for Cad Bane’s look. We get a number of different angles, like normal for these concept art images, but it’s one image in particular that I want to note (and thanks to u/ScoutTheTrooper over on the StarWarsLeaks subreddit for first pointing this out): Cad Bane has a metallic plate on his head, when seen in the concept art without his hat (you can see it in the bottom center of the picture).
In case you’re curious, he did not have that in The Clone Wars. We got glimpses of him with his hat off in the series and never saw anything even remotely like that. Consider:
So even though we have yet to see Bane without his hat in The Bad Batch, and thus don’t have this totally confirmed, it certainly looks like the design for the character now includes a metallic plate, like one might expect to be a sort of cybernetic implant to help recover from an injury (think of something like how Boba Fett saved Fennec Shand in The Mandalorian).
Now it’s probably obvious why I’m making such a big point about this, but I’ll spell it out anyway: in the unfinished bounty hunters arc starring Cad Bane and Boba Fett, the two of them had a duel that resulted in both of them being (apparently) shot in the head. Boba received the dent in his helmet, while Bane fell and lost his hat. We’ve never heard what happened to Bane, though many assumed that this was how he was killed, being shot in the head by Boba Fett. But the cybernetic plate on Bane’s head in this concept art is very curiously right where one would expect it to be if it’s stemming from his duel with Fett, where he got shot in the head. So all of this to say that I now wonder if the duel between Cad Bane and Boba Fett has already happened by the time of The Bad Batch, and that Bane simply survived the encounter (though, from the looks of it, just barely) where we assumed he was killed.
I think it would be cool if we get to see this play out on the screen at some point. If I’m right in now guessing that it has already happened by this point in the timeline (and thus we shouldn’t expect to see it happen in The Bad Batch), then I think it would be cool to get this story told some other way. Perhaps we could see it in a flashback in The Book of Boba Fett, which would also serve to bring Cad Bane to live action? Or perhaps we could get the arc released as an animated film? That second one is probably just wishful thinking, and the former is probably still unlikely. But regardless, this concept art has me really wondering if the duel has already happened.
And I think that might actually be the best way to proceed. (1) This unfinished arc was part of George Lucas’s storytelling, which probably places the story in a position where Lucasfilm is hesitant to undo it. If Lucas said it or did it, it’s basically been considered canon, for the most part. So this would ensure that Lucas’s storytelling continues (I’m not saying that it would be horrible if it didn’t happen like Lucas envisioned, but that this simply might be the safest option for all involved). (2) Additionally, I really love the idea of this being how Boba Fett gets on his way to being the most formidable bounty hunter in the galaxy: the son of Jango Fett, trained by Cad Bane, who defeated Bane in a duel. Jango was the best in the galaxy, and upon his death, Bane took up that mantle. This story would provide a compelling way for Boba to supplant Bane. (3) But a third reason why I like the idea of this duel already happening is that this would confirm that Bane actually survived the encounter. It would open up the storytelling potential for Bane moving forward and would give plenty of options and intrigue for where his story could go, especially in a galaxy where Fett continues to gain more and more recognition and reputation.
I hope we’ll find out more information along all of these lines sooner or later, but this concept art really has me wondering and speculating if this duel is actually still considered canon and already happened before The Bad Batch takes place.