Grogu, aka Baby Yoda, is the best thing to happen to Star Wars since Return of the Jedi…which also featured some adorable alien muppet people, now that I think about it. The animatronic baby alien is the real star of The Mandalorian, and a merchandising powerhouse for the studio. But if you listen to Gremlins creator Joe Dante, the glory is ill-gotten.
Gremlins is a 1984 horror comedy about a cuddly monster named Gizmo and his trouble-making progeny, the result of feeding him after midnight or accidentally leaving him in the rain. That movie and its 1990 sequel still have a following to this day, which Dante credits to Gizmo.
“I think the longevity of [the film] is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” Dante told the San Francisco Chronicle. “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.”
It’s possible Dante was being facetious here, but it’s way more fun to assume he’s being dead serious, so let’s go with that.
Did The Mandalorian get the idea for Baby Yoda from Gremlins, or did Gremlins get the idea for Gizmo from Ewoks?
So is it true that the people behind The Mandalorian lifted the idea from Baby Yoda from Gremlins? I mean, maybe…but also maybe not. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people like cute little creatures. Like I alluded to above, Lucasfilm put this idea into practice years before Gremlins with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Y’know what? OPPOSITE! Gremlins stole the idea for Gizmo from the Ewoks, and turn about is fair play.
But really, I think this is less about theft and more about multiple people getting the bright idea that cuteness sells. And both series are doing fine. The Mandalorian season 3 is on the way, and Gremlins is getting a new animated series called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai on HBO Max.