Few fictional characters of recent years have made a bigger impact on popular culture than Grogu, better known as Baby Yoda on the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. Introduced as a surprise twist in The Mandalorian pilot, Grogu quickly became a valuable commodity, sold on countless forms of toys and merchandise. And what’s not to love? He’s funny, he’s mysterious, and he’s oh-so-adorable.
But if you’re a student of ’80s cinema, it’s impossible not to notice a certain resemblance between Grogu and Gizmo, the furry protagonist of the two Gremlins movies. He too is funny, mysterious, and adorable — and he even has the same huge eyes, tiny nose, and big broad ears. (To be fair, the original Yoda had the same ears; the eyes and nose, not so much.)
The director of Gremlins, Joe Dante, has noticed the resemblance too. In fact, he says it goes beyond a simple resemblance. In a recent interview in the San Francisco Chronicle promoting some upcoming Gremlins screenings in the Bay Area, Dante called out Baby Yoda as “completely stolen” from Gizmo.
Here was his exact quote:
I think the longevity of (the films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby. 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.
Gizmo wasn’t chased across the galaxy by Werner Herzog, and he didn’t wind up as the surrogate son of a helmeted bounty hunter. But physically, it’s hard to argue that there’s a least some striking similarities between the two. I don‘t know if I would go so far as to say Gizmo walked so that Grogu could run. But if someone else wanted to make that argument — like, say, the director of Gremlins — I’d have a tough time disagreeing with them.
While Grogu’s adventures continue in the upcoming third season of The Mandalorian, Gizmo will soon return in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, an animated series for HBO Max. So probably the comparisons between the two are only going to get louder.
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