I am too young to have experienced the world’s introduction to the Beatles. Or Gone with the Wind, or Jesus Christ. But I was around for Baby Yoda. I was there when the Walt Disney Company took its latest step in a decades-spanning master plan to control the every conscious thought of the screen-adjacent public with its name-brand streaming service. I bore witness when Disney+ entranced its first wave of subscribers with the promise of a live-action series operating within the grandiose shadow of Star Wars’ most inscrutably beloved helmet-mime. And lo did I watch as The Mandalorian bequeathed its true dowery, erstwhile safeguarded in a fashion unknown since ere the days of digital domination, unto the many who tuned in hoping only to taste the bounties of Jawa jabber and Sarlacc spelunking. Behold, the aforementioned Force-mastering infant. And folks, never have I seen anything like it.
So I quaver at the notion that we came so close to a world without the long-eared tot we know and love.
Now, it’s not quite as though The Mandalorian nearly took form without a Li’l Yodey whatsoever. But the true matter hand is nevertheless Hoth-grade chilling. Per a report from The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm considered scrapping the adorable puppet that you and your most trusted loved ones have been fawning over for the past two weeks, in favor of a CGI substitute.
Consternation calcifies at the very mention of the possibility. Many a Star Wars diehard will invoke the series’ penchant for practical effects as testimony of its creative integrity, and, simply, just one reason its movies are so much fun to watch. And that’s when it comes to Dewbacks and Dianogae. This is Baby freakin’ Yoda, perhaps the most adorable creature yet to spring from the loins of that goofy galaxy far, far away. Transposing his outsized eyeballs and innocent smile to zeroes and ones would be a crime. It’d be tantamount to what Anakin did to those younglings on Coruscant.
Luckily, the world had a hero prepared to step in this time and rescue BaYo from such a fate. And that hero was Werner Herzog. (Just to be clear, I’m talking about the actual human Earth man Werner Herzog. I do not mean the yet unnamed character he plays on The Mandalorian. That guy is very likely evil and wants to do some decidedly unheroic things to our precious Yodelah. Do not trust him.) Upon catching word that the Mandalorian production team was considering swapping out Yode for code, Herzog spoke truth to justice. And he did so in a fashion only a man who once devoured his own shoe and literally shrugged off being shot in the abdomen would be brave enough to do.
“He says, ‘You are cowards. Leave it. Leave it,'” series director and EP Dave Filoni said at a Mandalorian fan event in Hollywood in November. And because this was coming from Herzog, not only did showrunner Jon Favreau heed the advice, he even celebrated it.
Thus, we have ourselves the proper form any Baby Yoda should take. Flesh (felt) and blood (I don’t know, puppet blood). And forever more may we gawk and coo and meme and do all the sorts of things that people do when faced with a once-in-a-generation gift of said caliber. Thank you, 2019, if only for this.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm/Disney