When Jon Favreau pitched his vision for the first live-action Star Wars series and the flagship title for the launch of Disney+ with The Mandalorian, no one anticipated how popular the fan-favorite character of The Child AKA Baby Yoda would be. But this wasn't a new addition to the show to help sell merchandise, as fans can attest when they immediately flocked to stores and found that Lucasfilm had nothing prepared to help maintain the surprise of the reveal. Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Baby Yoda was always meant to play a major role, but that preserving the surprise of the character's debut was most important.
Kennedy recently spoke with TheWrap about the future of the Star Wars franchise on Disney+, speaking about how Star Wars: The Mandalorian helped paved the way.
"Baby Yoda was part of this from the beginning. We didn’t know exactly what Baby Yoda was going to look like, and we didn’t necessarily call him Baby Yoda. But yes, he was a part of this."
Kennedy added that Peter Bogdanovich's '70s film Paper Moon was a major inspiration for The Mandalorian; the film features a con man who agrees to chaperone a young orphan to her aunt's home, putting the two on a road trip.
She added, "And I actually hadn’t realized that the movie Paper Moon was a big influence on Jon when he was thinking about this story. That is not necessarily a movie you would immediately go to, but the minute he said it, I was like, 'Yeah, of course.'"
Kennedy made it clear that The Child was always important to Lucasfilm and Star Wars, but they had no idea the adorable character would prove to be so popular among fans.0comments
"...All of us were attracted to the character as he evolved. And we knew when he was on the set from how everybody was reacting that he would certainly be a popular character," Kennedy said. "But I don’t think anybody quite anticipated the degree to which he would catch on. That, I have to say, was a bit of a surprise. We knew enough to keep him secret. But we keep a lot of things secret on Star Wars."
Baby Yoda is set to return when Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 2 premieres on Disney+ later this year.