J.J. Abrams Explains Why The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda Is So Popular

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There’s only a matter of weeks until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters, and the upcoming ninth main installment of the long-running sci-fi series is entering the final stages of ramping up the hype. Unsurprisingly, the movie is set to do huge business at the box office, and faces a delicate balancing act in both getting the fans firmly back on board after the polarizing reception to The Last Jedi, as well as tying up over 40 years’ worth of story threads into a satisfying conclusion.

However, despite the anticipation getting closer and closer to fever pitch, The Rise of Skywalker is no longer the most talked-about aspect of the expanded Star Wars universe. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last while, The Mandalorian Baby Yoda has taken the internet by storm and stolen much of the online thunder from J.J. Abrams’ big finale.

The tiny green alien has usurped Abrams’ mega-budget blockbuster as the media’s current focal point for all things Star Wars, and much like those faced by Daisy Ridley, the director will no doubt be forced to deal with Baby Yoda-related questions in virtually every press junket for The Rise of Skywalker.

In fact, the Bad Robot head honcho was asked for his opinions on the franchise’s new favorite critter in a recent interview, and being the company man that he is, tied it all back into the universal appeal of Star Wars as a whole.

“Look, I think that the fun of telling stories in this galaxy is that you get to take things that are familiar and you get to adjust them, augment them, comment on them, continue them. It’s a world that is looking to be expanded… And for me, Star Wars is sort of constantly expanding and sort of ever-expanding. And the ability to choose a character like Yoda and say, ‘What if we created a baby Yoda?'”

Ironically for a filmmaker that came in for some criticism from those that felt like The Force Awakens was a little too similar in tone and execution to A New Hope, Abrams also claimed that Baby Yoda’s appeal has a lot to do with nostalgia for the history of Star Wars.

“The reason these things are reasonable to people is because it’s not just nostalgia but it’s taken something that is meaningful, a story that has deep roots and potency and resonates with a human heart, a beating heart. These are the kinds of things that, when they hit, when there’s something that feels like, ‘oomph’, it’s not just cute but it implies a story. It sparks the imagination. That’s the thing, whether it’s bringing back Lando, and wanting to know what’s been going on, to introducing a brand new character, and brand new droid or a brief glimpse of a baby Yoda. All these things are about the possibility, potential, and that’s the very heart of what Star Wars is.”

That’s an incredibly well-reasoned and detailed opinion from Abrams, and based on his comments alone you can tell how close he holds Star Wars to his heart. And though The Mandalorian‘s Baby Yoda may be the talk of the town for now, with The Rise of Skywalker set to be unleashed very soon, the cinematic saga will soon be dominating the headlines once again.

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