Director Joe Dante Claims Baby Yoda’s Appearance Completely Stolen from Gremlins

Baby Yoda Character “Completely Stolen” From ‘Gremlins,’ Says Director Joe Dante

Joe Dante, the director of 1984’s Gremlins, is apparently one of the few people on Earth who aren’t thrilled with Baby Yoda. The adorable, scene-stealing, Jedi-powered pop cultural phenomenon from Disney+’s popular Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian, is allegedly owned by Joe Dante.

Joe Dante is unapologetic while comparing the endearing Gizmo to the Baby Yoda character at the center of the Disney+ series The Mandalorian.

That’s because Dante thinks that Gizmo, the mogwai in the well-known Steven Spielberg horror comedy is the source of inspiration for Grogu. Grogu, like Gizmo, is diminutive, has pointy ears, huge eyes, and an aggressively high amount of adorability.

Dante claimed in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that the endearing fans’ love for his 1984 cult hit Gremlins and its 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch is due to the endearing Mogwai character dubbed Gizmo, who was portrayed in the movies by Howie Mandel.

“I think the longevity of [the films] is really key to this one character [Gizmo], who is essentially like a baby,” Dante told the publication in a video chat. “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.”

Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, the Mandalorian’s brain trustees, assert that Baby Yoda was influenced by a well-known Spielberg-connected character other than Gizmo.

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“Dave had done a sketch of kind of a Michelangelo/E.T. moment, and that was a source of inspiration,” Favreau has said, referencing Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” and the eponymous alien from Spielberg’s 1982 classic. “Then, Doug Chiang and the whole art department started generating drawings of it, and the Legacy [Effects] people built it.”

Pedro Pascal, the Mandalorian series’ actor, has claimed that when he first heard “The Child,” he was immediately brought back to the beloved Gremlin.

“I saw Baby Yoda in those pictures and I remember thinking, ‘OK, bye, Gizmo,’” he told Empire magazine in 2020. “[I thought,] ‘People are going to lose their minds over that.’”

A Twitter user mentioned how Grogu is from the Yoda species that first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, four years prior to Gremlins release, pointing out how Dante had actually stolen the idea shamelessly.

Zach Galligan, the Gremlin and its sequel star, admitted to seeing memes poking fun at Grogu’s resemblance to Yoda. He also acknowledged seeing memes “that sort of poke fun at the similarity” and the connection between the two creatures. He didn’t seem to mind Baby Yoda‘s appearance and the resemblance with Gizmo.

“People have been bombarding me on social media with comparatives, scale drawings, and everything, and coming up with all sorts of theories about whether or not there was any kind of conscious decision behind it,” Galligan stated. “All I can say is this: In many ways, it’s really great because it’s always very helpful in media to have a foil. Which one do you like better? Which one was the first? It just is another kind of narrative you can use to drive people’s engagement.”

The Gremlins director is working on a Gizmo project called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, soon to be aired on HBO Max. Are you excited on the reappearance of Gizmo? In case you are not living in the US, here’s how you can watch HBO Max outside USA and watch Gizmo reappear on screens after almost 30 years.

Ellison Shirley

Ellison Shirley tends to go down the rabbit hole when it comes to research; hence it’s up to her to present the latest happenings in streaming town. And so she does. A serial binge-watcher, opinionated with a pinch of feminism on top, you name it, she’s a bit of everything.