Disney+ subscribers couldn’t get enough of Grogu (a.k.a. “Baby Yoda”) when he appeared at the end of The Mandalorian’s first episode in 2019. Since then, the little guy has become one of the Star Wars franchise’s most beloved new additions. But not everyone is a fan of the pint-sized Jedi-to-be. In fact, original Gremlins director Joe Dante believes that Lucasfilm blatantly ripped off the design of the Mogwai, particularly the film’s own breakout character, Gizmo.
Dante made his feelings known in a recent interview with Datebook. The story is careful to note that the director has no intention of mounting a lawsuit against Lucasfilm anytime soon. Regardless, Dante seems to feel that Gremlins deserves some of the credit for The Mandalorian‘s runaway success.
“I think the longevity of [Gremlins] is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” said Dante. “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.”
To be fair, Dante isn’t the first person to point out similarities between Gizmo and Grogu. As soon as The Mandalorian debuted three years ago, social media became flooded with jokes about how the series’ title character should keep his newfound sidekick away from water. Even Amblin, the studio that produced both Gremlins and its 1990 sequel, The New Batch, couldn’t help but give Grogu its own seal of approval. At the time, neither could Dante, who added his own joke to the mix:
We warned them… but they didn’t listen.https://t.co/m3xvYiz0yh
— Joe Dante (@joe_dante) December 5, 2019
Clearly, Dante is singing a much different tune these days. But in the long run, it’s important to remember one thing: Grogu is the same species as Yoda, a character who first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, a full four years before Dante’s movie hit theaters. Moreover, when designing a baby version of the character, the visual development team only had so many options. So the resemblance is probably just incidental at best.
In the meantime, both characters are set to make a big splash on the small screen in the coming months. HBO Max is currently gearing up to release Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, an animated prequel that reveals how Gizmo first met Sam Wing in 1920s China. Dante is working on the series as a consultant. As for Grogu, he will return to Disney+ when The Mandalorian premieres its third season in February 2023.
What do you make of Dante’s Mandalorian criticisms? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Gremlins: Gizmo’s 12 Days of Christmas
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