How E.T. Inspired A Key Moment For The Mandalorian's Baby Yoda

baby yoda the mandalorian

By the time Season 2 of The Mandalorian gets here, Star Wars fans will be able to write dissertations on every aspect of Baby Yoda's creation, but will still be pretty clueless about character details within the overall narrative. In lieu of discovering The Child's connection with Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka Tano, let's talk about how The Mandalorian's merchandising monster – he's not a monster! – does have an inspirational connection with the most influential extraterrestrial of the 1980s, E.T.

Sure, The Mandalorian features elements that pay homage to various films from Steven Spielberg's singular career, among other projects, but Baby Yoda's tie to E.T. isn't like a Reese's Pieces reference or anything too goofy like that. Rather, it was a mood-establishing drawing from Star Wars animation wizard Dave Filoni. Here's how show creator Jon Favreau explained it to Deadline:

Dave had done a sketch of kind of a Michelangelo/E.T. moment, and that was a source of inspiration. Then, Doug Chiang and the whole art department started generating drawings of it, and the Legacy [Effects] people built it.

Jon Favreau was speaking not of any party-happy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but rather the artist Michelangelo's iconic The Creation of Adam, famously seen in the Sistine Chapel. God and Adam's finger-touch is a visual that has been referenced a zillion times across pop culture, though very rarely in a situation that involves one of the most popular puppets on the planet. (That said, Kermit the Frog also parodied it, if we can further connect everything here the Ninja Turtles' Jim Henson-created suits to the Muppets king Frank Oz voicing O.G. Yoda.)

In any case, Mandalorian fans likely already have the show moment in question that Dave Filoni's sketch directly inspired, which can be seen below.

Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni definitely landed on TV greatness when they created Baby Yoda, who easily eclipsed the titular badass in casual conversations. To the point where the character's official name, "The Child," is all but forgotten. Maybe it'd be easier to refer to him by an everyday word if there was a cool and easy way to abbreviate it, like E.T. from extraterrestrial. But I don't think "The Chi" would work, since that's something else entirely.

Maybe in Season 2, Jon Favreau planned another secret cameo by setting an E.T. puppet up in a ship flying through the background, or sitting in the back of a cantina where Carl Weathers' Greef is having a drink or twelve. That probably won't happen, of course, since that would potentially fuel entire swaths of sci-fi fandoms to descend into speculative madness. For now, let's just limit things to Dave Filoni's sketch.

The Mandalorian is set to return to millions of fans Disney+ for Season 2 in October, and all signs point to zero noteworthy delays as of now. But stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more on the Star Wars series and its potential spinoffs, and don't forget to stay up to date with our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.