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Frozen in Carbonite

Why is a living creature being frozen in carbonite in The Mandalorian so common when it seemed so risky in Empire Strikes Back?

In the opening episode of The Mandalorian, we see inside the Razor Crest, Dyn Jarren aka the Mandalorian’s ship, and he’s carrying several bounties who are frozen in carbonite. In fact, we see a fast-talking Mythrol, that the Madalorian had just captured, get the flash freeze treatment on the spot.

That’s a huge shift from The Empire Strikes Back where an ad hoc experiment in Cloud City freezes Han Solo in carbonite in order to test the process before Darth Vader attempted to freeze Luke Skywalker as well.

Nobody trusted carbon freezing living beings in Empire Strikes Back, evidenced by OG Mandalorian Boba Fett, who clearly expresses his concerns to Darth Vader. Fett says, “What if he doesn’t survive? He’s worth a lot to me…

Disney+’s The Mandalorian happens 6 years after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, so what changed in carbon freezing in those 6 years? It was portrayed as risky in Empire. Why was it commonplace 6 years later in The Mandalorian?  

Han Solo Carbonite
Picked and packed and ready to ship.

Grain-of-Salt Theories

Theory #1: Boba Fett made it cool. When Fett experienced the usefulness of carbon freezing bounties, he made it common practice. As Fett went, so did other bounty hunters, many of which may have done business in Jabba’s palace where they could see Han Solo’s carbonite captivity with their own eyes.

In short, Boba Fett started a fad that persisted 6 years later.

Boba Fett Star Wars
Jet-setter, Trend-setter.

Theory #2: It was an equipment issue. They said specifically in Empire that the Cloud City equipment wasn’t built for humans, but perhaps there was carbon freezing equipment elsewhere in the galaxy that was specifically tuned toward putting living creatures in the deep freeze.

Theory #3: Lando was bluffing. C-3PO said it was fine and that prissy droid was known for saying things out loud that his companions wished he’d keep to himself.

So, maybe Lando suggested the carbon freezing equipment wasn’t specced for humans, yet he knew full well it was. If that was the case, Lando was bluffing because he was stalling for time. That’s certainly in character for the smooth talking sabacc player.

Theory #4: There were technological advancements. Perhaps carbon freezing hadn’t been specced for humans at the time of Empire Strikes Back, because really, who would freeze a human like that?

Yet once it was successful on Han Solo, the usefulness in bounty hunting became evident and that sparked technological advancement on the technique. Advancement that had refined the process by the time of Dyn Jarren.

Theory #5: It’s just a movie. Maybe carbon freezing doesn’t need to make sense from Empire to The Mandalorian because it’s a fictional world created for us to enjoy, not analyze against supposed laws of physics created for the fictional world.

That’s the likely possibility.

Regardless, the scene in Empire Strikes Back is iconic in cinema history, while carbon freezing in The Mandalorian has wonderfully deepened the Star Wars mythos in the franchise’s first live-action television show. So, no matter the theory, we’re all better for it.


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