The Real Reason The Star Wars Prequels Made Yoda CGI


Although the younger member of his species may have captured the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans everywhere after becoming the breakout success story of both The Mandalorian and the franchise in general, the wizened old Jedi Yoda remains one of the most popular and beloved characters in a galaxy far, far away. And while Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni seem happy to have traded the Dagobah resident in for a younger model, there’s still been constant rumors about Yoda making a return to the live-action realm of Star Wars.

Of course, The Mandalorian used a mix of CGI and puppetry to bring Baby Yoda to life, but it turns out that George Lucas didn’t have the same kind of patience when it came to the Prequel Trilogy, with the bearded plaid enthusiast deciding his Yoda would be a fully-digital creation after becoming frustrated with the limitations of Frank Oz’s puppet in The Phantom Menace.

Lucas was intent to push the boundaries of visual effects technology in his long-awaited return to Star Wars, and as a result he felt that the Yoda puppet stuck out like a sore thumb against the slick digital backgrounds and CGI enhancements, which is why he went back and turned the Jedi Master into a completely computerized character when he once again tinkered with his movies for the trilogy’s initial Blu-Ray release in 2011. From there on in, Yoda was the responsibility of the visual effects teams and not the puppeteers, which is just as well considering how he ended up flying around like an extra from The Matrix in Attack of the Clones.

Some fans will never reconcile themselves with George Lucas’ constant alterations to Star Wars, but it can’t be denied that CGI Yoda fits better with the Prequel Trilogy’s aesthetic than an obvious puppet looking unconvincingly fake against a green screen background. At least, in our opinion.