When a sharp beam of light emerged through the hull of a crashed TIE Fighter, the Star Wars universe changed forever. The final moments of The Mandalorian Season 1 revealed that the vile Moff Gideon was in possession of the Darksaber, a highly coveted lightsaber with deep roots to Mandalore. For the first time, it became clear that animation and live-action were truly being merged into a cohesive narrative.
First introduced in the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he Darksaber was a weapon unlike any fans had seen before. Wielded by Pre Vizsla, leader of the terrorist group Death Watch, the sword was given a brief background but largely remained a mysterious, though powerful, relic. Originally conceived as a vibroblade, the weapon was later changed to a special lightsaber at the suggestion of George Lucas.
Darksaber vs. Lightsaber Differences
Since its creation, the Darksaber has gone on to play a significant role in Star Wars Rebels, The Mandalorian, and now The Book of Boba Fett. Din Djarin is in possession of the highly sought-after weapon, which is quickly becoming the driving force behind the entire story set in the MandoVerse. It's a dangerous time for Mando, and as he struggles to learn what it takes to wield the blade, there will be enemies coming from every corner of the galaxy to obtain it.
Though it's a lightsaber, the Darksaber is unlike any of the elegant weapons that have been seen before. There's a rich history behind the weapon that makes it more valuable than the run-of-the-mill lightsaber, and its design and handling are special in their own right. Below are five major factors that set The Mandalorian's new weapon apart from all other lightsabers in the galaxy far, far away.
1.) It Was Crafted By The First Mandalorian Jedi
Hints of the Darksaber's history came in Clone Wars, but it wasn't until Rebels that the weapon's full background was revealed. Explained through a narration by Fenn Rau over a nifty shadow sequence, it was revealed that the Darksaber was built by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to be inducted into the Jedi Order. The weapon was crafted over a millennium before the events of the Skywalker saga.
Relations between the Jedi and Mandalore were tense even then; after Tarre became one with the Force, the Darksaber remained in the Temple until members of House Vizsla penetrated the sacred structure and stole the weapon. It was a central piece in the Mandalorian-Jedi War during the twilight of the Old Republic, a conflict that didn't end well for the warrior creed.
Following the war, the Darksaber remained in the possession of House Vizsla and was passed down for generations, eventually falling into Pre Vizsla's grasp. The weapon is recognized by all Mandalorians instantly for its legendary past and what that means for the peoples' future.
It can be assumed that Tarre Vizsla was a cunning warrior and noble peacekeeper, given the reverence both Mandalorians and Jedi have for him. However, little is known about him beyond his eventual founding of House Vizsla and becoming the ruler of Mandalore, leaving an interesting story to be told regarding a potential severance between Tarre and the Jedi.
2.) The Hilt Is Made Of Beskar
Like all other weapons used by the Mandalorians, the Darksaber is forged out of beskar, though Din Djarin notes it's of a quality he's never encountered before. The Armorer explains that this is the result of it being created by a Jedi, and the weapon being over 1,000 years old also makes it reasonable to assume that forging practices have evolved significantly over time.
The presentation of the hilt in animation suggests it's more of a sharp rectangular object colored in light shades of gray, but the live-action version depicts the weapon as being mostly black and more curved around the handle. Given the nature of beskar, the hilt is likely heavier than a typical lightsaber, but Tarre Vizsla clearly had no difficulties wielding the weapon.
Worth noting is that the Darksaber, unlike any other lightsaber, should be indestructible due to its material. Many lightsabers have been cut into pieces or destroyed in explosions, but the beskar hilt should protect the Darksaber from any such fates, giving its wielder an edge in combat. What remains unclear is if the beskar could be compromised by the kyber crystal within; if so, the only way it can be destroyed would be a split caused by the Force as seen in The Last Jedi.
3.) It's The Only Black Lightsaber
Given that everything else about the Darksaber is unique, it's only natural that the color of the blade would differentiate itself as well. To date, the Darksaber is the only lightsaber in canon with a black blade, and it boasts a pointed tip that sets itself apart from the curved ends of the other Force users' weapons. There's no canonical reasoning for this, but out of universe, the blade was laid over a vibroblade and colored black by The Clone Wars' creators to make it more unique.
The kyber crystal itself isn't black, however; current lore has established that all crystals come clear initially, and the color of a lightsaber's blade is determined when the builder connects with it.
Red blades are as unnatural as the other practices of the Sith; a Dark Lord is required to bleed a Jedi's crystal, and the pain turns the blade red. Healing a red lightsaber would make the blade white, soothing the crystal's presence in the Living Force. Presumably, the black color in the Darksaber is natural but exceptionally rare, perhaps only possible for Tarre Vizsla because he was Mandalorian.
While the Darksaber's blade does have the familiar white emitted around the blade like classic lightsabers do, there are more pronounced details in the beam that others don't boast. Ragged white lines flow through the heart of the blade, which is given a flatter appearance whereas its counterparts are rounded and have a sense of thickness. It's tempting to suggest this is due to the crystal, but it could just as easily be a byproduct of the beskar housing it.
A quality that makes lightsabers recognizable is the sound. Other than the dangerous crackle of Kylo Ren's cross guard, the Darksaber has the distinction of producing a different noise than other lightsabers do. Swings are accompanied softer chirping sounds, akin to the whistling birds that are part of Mando's weapons arsenal, and strikes create an electric sizzle that warn of fatalities to come.
4.) Ownership Through Combat Wins The Mandalore Throne
Though implied by dialogue when Maul kills Pre Vizsla and claims the Darksaber and Mandalore's throne as his in The Clone Wars, it wasn't until The Mandalorian Season 2 that claiming ownership through victory in combat made one the rightful ruler. This ties back to Tarre Vizsla's legacy as a Mand'alor and is serving as a through-line for the MandoVerse, which is just beginning to expand on this concept.
Rebels left things a bit hazy with this rule, as Sabine Wren merely took the Darksaber from Maul's cave on Dathomir and later gifted it to Bo-Katan Kryze. However, The Book of Boba Fett clarified things by revealing that accepting the weapon without victory cursed Bo-Katan, an error that led to the Night of a Thousand Tears and left surviving Mandalorians scattered and in hiding.
Maul ruled Mandalore during the final days of the Clone Wars, though, ironically, he made use of his own lightsaber for combat. The next person who could potentially be recognized as a legitimate ruler of the world would be Moff Gideon, but there's no telling if he obtained it through honorable means from Bo-Katan. At present, Din Djarin has full claim to the Darksaber and the throne, though he may not want it.
Bo-Katan's initial plan in The Mandalorian Season 2's finale was to defeat Gideon and win the weapon properly, but the Moff laid a trap by leaving his cruiser's bridge to confront Mando instead. Kryze acknowledges that Gideon's taunting was accurate when Din attempted to yield and offer up possession of the weapon, which sets up an inevitable battle between the two that could come as early as The Mandalorian Season 3.
The only other lightsaber to have meaning to others than its creator was Anakin Skywalker's, and that was due to it being passed down through generations by his family. But the Darksaber has enough of a storied history to provide such responsibility upon its master, and the ramifications for violating the warriors' code are severe - both for the wielder, and for Mandalore.
5.) Even Non-Force Users Must Connect With The Blade
Several Star Wars stories have shown that Jedi have a unique bond with their lightsabers; as Obi-Wan says, "This weapon is your life." Due to their strength in the Force, however, there are no difficulties in making that connection. Novices like Luke Skywalker may prove to be inept at fighting with the weapon at the early stages of their training, but there are never any physical limitations on their abilities to use it.
The Darksaber is completely different. Both Rebels and the MandoVerse have shown that non-Force users need to have clear minds to even wield the weapon.
Sabine Wren's training in Trials of the Darksaber proved fruitless until she let go of her fears regarding her family. In the early stages of learning under Kanan, her lack of focus leads to the blade slicing one of her wrist gauntlets. As she becomes more disciplined and accepts the weight of her responsibilities as owner of the sword, the blade itself begins to feel lighter and becomes a part of her.
Din Djarin experiences similar issues, stating in The Book of Boba Fett that the blade becomes heavier with each swing - and it shows. After he, too, accidentally slices himself with the blade, his training with The Armorer shows that his unbalanced state results in it being difficult to even raise the weapon. What weighs on the mind, weighs on the body. In Mando's case, he's concerned about Grogu.
There are some cases where the weight is likely never an issue for the wielder. Maul displayed immediate proficiency with the sword, a credit both to his focus and his ability to use the Force, and it can be assumed that Tarre Vizsla was similar. Interestingly, Moff Gideon has very heavy swings when he fights Mando, but this could be more due to age and physical limitations than his peace of mind.
As Sabine and Din demonstrate, even the most capable warrior can struggle to wield the Darksaber. The properties that make the iconic weapon so unique also make it very difficult to be in possession of. But a Mandalorian with resolve and good weapons at their side is a sight to behold.
The Darksaber will return in The Book of Boba Fett on Wednesday and in The Mandalorian Season 3 later in 2022, both streaming on Disney+.