The director of the cult classic "Gremlins" films believes the series’ protagonist walked so "Baby Yoda" could run – or, in this case, use the Force.
Joe Dante – director of the 1984 hit "Gremlins" and its subversive sequel, "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" – told the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook ahead of screenings of both films that he thinks Gizmo from "Gremlins" is the inspiration for Grogu aka Baby Yoda.
Gizmo, voiced by Howie Mandel in both films, is the main mogwai in the "Gremlins" franchise. Grogu, affectionately dubbed "Baby Yoda" for his resemblance to the little green Jedi Master, is the miniature MacGuffin turned memeable megastar in "The Mandalorian."
Dante wryly told Datebook in a story published on Wednesday that "The Mandalorian" – at least – a page of two out of the "Gremlins" playbook.
"I think the longevity of (the films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby," Dante told the outlet. "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."
Dante said last month that Steven Spielberg, the legendary director who executive produced the original "Gremlins," had the idea for Gizmo to remain "the hero's pal" rather than the film’s villain. While Grogu fits that billing in "The Mandalorian," as the adoptive son of Pedro Pascal's Din Djarin, creator Jon Favreau said in 2020 that Grogu's introduction was owed to Spielberg.
Favreau told Deadline that director/executive producer Dave Filoni "had done a sketch of kind of a Michaelangelo/E.T. moment" – referring to Michaelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" and Spielbeg's “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – “and that was a source of inspiration” for Grogu's introduction in the show. He told the Hollywood Reporter a year prior that the audience's fascination with "Baby Yoda" – whose name had not been revealed at that point – was owed to being, well, a baby Yoda.
"I think what's great about what George created is that Yoda proper, the character that we grew up watching, was always shrouded in mystery, and that was what made him so archetypal and so mythic," Favreau told the outlet. "We know who he is based on his behavior and what he stands for, but we don't know a lot of details about where he comes from or his species. I think that's why people are so curious about this little one of the same species."
Dante's feelings haven't stopped him from collaborating with one of Grogu's co-stars. The 75-year-old is a consultant on HBO Max's upcoming "Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai," an animated 10-episode prequel series featuring Gizmo. Ming-Na Wen, who plays Fennec Shand on "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett," is among the voice cast.
Tickets for Saturday's "Gremlins" screening are $29.95 for the first film and a Q&A with Dante, and $34.95 to also see a screening of the second film.
LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign up and follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram