Star Wars Day, aka May 4th, is a day to remember and honor its namesake franchise, even if, on this SWD, in 2020, it also serves as a stark reminder that the franchise isn’t in the best shape, with the slightly underperforming — and quite controversial — Rise of Skywalker only a few months in the past. Still, the day did bring some good news. And we learned something about one piece of Star Wars content that’s done very well: Remember Baby Yoda, the breakout puppet star of The Mandalorian? The one whose toy supply was threatened by this rampaging pandemic? Well, he was almost, if anything, even cuter.
This comes from Vanity Fair, who dug up some new dirt on the genesis of the one known as The Child, though which has become colloquially known (and loved) as “Baby Yoda.” The idea for a Yoda-like character came from show creator Jon Favreau, who thought all he needed for a popular program was “a guy in a mask” and “a puppet.” But he told VF he didn’t want it to be too cute.
“I was worried about what we called ‘Bleep Syndrome,’” Favreau said — a term he coined that was inspired by cute animated sidekicks, as seen on shows like Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, and which he repeatedly used during the design phase. He didn’t want it to be a mere “comic relief,” instead being more in the spirit of Star Wars creator George Lucas, who, Favreau said, had a knack for making creatures “just cute enough.”
But nailing that balance wasn’t easy. “All the drawings originally were very cute,” Favreau said. “Even with the merchandising, they were always trying to soften the rough edges on him. We really tried to look at how much we could ugly up all the different individual features.” Favreau and co-writer Dave Filoni insisted it have “weird little hairs growing out of him,” and they rejected designs that made him look remotely human baby-like. His teeth, for instance, were sharp and jagged, while the sound design was to make him animal-like, using creature noises rather than human toddler coos.
As per VF:
The frog-swallowing in season one may only be the beginning of the “gross things” the show will let the Child do in order to underline the idea that in the end, he’s still an animal. “It’s like a stray dog or having a little baby alligator or something,” Favreau said. Then again, a baby alligator probably never sold this many toys.
The piece also details how they were reluctant to bring anything Yoda-like to the project, with those working on the franchise nowadays hoping to honor Lucas, who is no longer in control of his pet series but who they still tend to seek out for advice:
They were hardly likely to embark on something that Lucas might disapprove of: “[We’re] always keeping an open door to George because this is a character that’s very beloved to him,” Filoni said. “He comes by the set whenever he wants to know what’s going on. We fill him in and we want to hear his perspective.” Years of collaboration allow him to anticipate how Lucas will react to any twists in the Mandalorian’s journey: “We understand how to collaborate with him in a way where it never gets too far afield from something he would be comfortable with.”
So there you have it. Not only might you have almost never have gotten a Baby Yoda, but the one you did get could have been insufferably adorable. Instead, you may agree, they got it just right.
(Via Vanity Fair)