Gremlins director Joe Dante, the man behind the popular 1984 horror-comedy and its 1990 sequel, has claimed that The Mandalorian‘s Baby Yoda is a shameless ripoff of his film’s lead Gremlin, Gizmo.
While Dante doesn’t intend to sue Disney or Lucasfilm, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he believes the Star Wars spin-off series blatantly copied from his cult-favorite movies.
“I think the longevity of (the films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” Dante explained. “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.”
Baby Yoda was introduced in the first episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, which debuted on November 12, 2019. His cuteness and toyetic features made him an instant hit with viewers, leading to various toys and merchandise based on the character.
As for Dante, he recently served as a consultant on the upcoming HBO Max animated series, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, which, ironically, features the voice of Mandalorian star Ming-Na Wen. The cast also includes BD Wong (Nora From Queens) and James Hong (Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny). The first episode premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France last month.
Set in 1920s Shanghai, East China, Secrets of the Mogwai revolves around 10-year-old Sam Wing and how he met Gizmo, a young Mogwai. It was written and executive produced by Tze Chun, with Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Sam Register, and Brendan Hay serving as executive producers. The series has already been renewed for a second season.
In the meantime, Dante will screen the first two Gremlins movies in San Francisco on Saturday, July 16. “The people in my generation who loved movies love them because they saw them with an audience,” the filmmaker said. “I’ve seen these pictures over the years many times all over the world, and they always play well in a crowded theater.”
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Season 1, TBA, HBO Max
The Mandalorian, Season 3, TBA, Disney+