Director Joe Dante says that the character of Baby Yoda was “completely stolen” from the movie Gremlins.
Gremlin’s director Joe Dante recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that the main character Gizmo, who is basically a baby, is a big reason why the movies have lasted so long. “This, of course, brings me to the topic of Baby Yoda, who is completely stolen and just copied. I would think without shame.”
It’s a big accusation, but when you look at the two cute creatures side by side, they do look a lot alike. Both have special abilities, big eyes, and ears that move. But the idea for Grugu, the name of Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian, probably came before 1984, when the first Gremlins movie came out. Yoda made his first appearance four years before when he was a small swamp creature that seemed mean and bothered Luke Skywalker while he was stuck on Degobah.
Deadline has reached out to Disney+ for a comment, which we will add if we get one.
Last year, Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau told Deadline that when he came up with the character, he thought of E.T. more than Gizmo.
Favreau said of the Child’s first scene, “Dave [Filoni] had done a sketch of a kind of Michelangelo/E.T. moment, and that was a source of inspiration.” Grugu’s cradle is floating in the sketch, and his little hand is reaching up from it. Mando is reaching back down to touch Grugu’s fingers. In this Disney Gallery episode about The Mandalorian, you can see the real drawing. The picture looks like a mix of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” and the famous alien from Steven Spielberg’s movie.
“Then,” Favreau told Deadline, “Doug Chiang and the whole art department started drawing it, and the Legacy [Effects] people built it.”
In the Disney Gallery episode, Favreau said, “We got a lot of drawings.” “Some of them were too cute, some were too ugly, and some were not the right size.”
Here you can see some of the first sketches.
“Finally, Chris Alzmann made a picture of him with what looked like a piece of a flight jacket wrapped around him,” Favreau said. “His eyes were a little strange, and he seemed a little off, like something was wrong. But we thought it was cute, and that was the image that made us say, “This is good.” Then it went from there.”
Filoni says that when George Lucas made the character, he was worried about something completely different.
He said that Lucas, who was once seen on the set of The Mandalorian holding Baby Yoda in his arms, was worried about how the character would grow.
“At one point, I talked to George about the Child, and his main concern was that the child needed enough training,” Filoni wrote in his book.
Luke’s wish came true. An entire episode of The Book of Boba Fett is devoted to the Jedi training of young Grogu.