Baby Yoda's Look 'Shamelessly' Stolen From Gizmo, Says Gremlins Director

Baby Yoda’s adorable, wide-eared look was “shamelessly” and “completely stolen” from Gremlins, says Joe Dante, director of the seminal 1984 horror comedy and its first sequel.

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Dante made the not-so-earth-shattering observation about The Mandalorian‘s scene-stealing mascot during an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, ahead of this weekend’s special Golden City showing of the first two Gremlins movies, at the Castro Theatre.

“I think the longevity of [the Gremlins films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” Dante said. “Which brings me, of course, to the subject of Baby Yoda, who is completely stolen and is just out-and-out copied. Shamelessly, I would think.”

Of course, The Empire Strikes Back‘s OG (and less-cutesy) Yoda predated the first Gremlins movie … which was loosely based on a 1940s Roald Dahl book that featured quite dissimilar-looking creatures.

Baby Yoda aka The Child aka Grogu was quite famously the big surprise coming out of the very first episode of The Mandalorian, Disney+’s first live-action Star Wars series, instantly becoming a pop culture sensation while launching 1,000 memes.

Early concept art for the character showed that it almost was much, much uglier. And though Baby Yoda wound up sufficiently cuddly, TV franchise boss Jon Favreau was wary of Mando’s sidekick being too cute.

“I was worried about what we called ‘Bleep Syndrome,’” Favreau said in May 2020, referring to the sidekick from Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, an animated 1970s series. “We wanted to make sure the Child wasn’t just going to be a comic relief.”

“Even with the merchandising, they were always trying to soften the rough edges on him,” Favreau recalled. But he and fellow exec producer Dave Filoni “really tried to look at how much we could ugly up all the different individual features,” including the “weird little hairs growing out of him.”

Who gets your vote for cutest critter of unusual origin?

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