For better or for worse, Baby Yoda is the face of Disney’s hit television series The Mandalorian. After the little critter’s existence was revealed toward the end of the first episode, he quickly made his way to every corner of the Internet. From memes to merchandise, he seemed virtually inescapable and helped make Disney a lot of money.
Given the character’s popularity – something that was all but set in stone from his inception considering the universally cute design – it seems a little strange that Disney didn’t choose to plaster him all over promotional material from the start. Far from it, in fact, as prior to the first episode, nobody knew that this alien infant would show up.
As it turns out, though, that was precisely the point. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, series creator Jon Favreau said his team consciously tried to keep Baby Yoda a secret from the world so as to surprise audiences with a big reveal at the end of the premiere. This pleasant shock of being surprised, he thought, would help boost the series’ popularity more than an instant reveal would have.
“I thought it was very important to establish that there were going to be surprises,” Favreau said. “When you are promoting a film, you are putting your best stuff out there in the marketing campaign because you want everybody to show up that Friday. Television is different. You want to be able to build. You want word-of-mouth to spread. You want people to tune in and know that something is going to happen that they are going to want to talk about.”
Favreau touches upon a major dilemma here, one that has haunted the industry for decades. In order to attract audiences, studios need to reveal some of the content of their projects. In order to receive a decent critical response and entertain said audiences, however, they also need to be able to still surprise them.
Disney has proven rather capable of doing this. Aside from The Mandalorian, the company surprised fans with Avengers: Endgame as well. In the promotional material for that film, Thor was depicted with his normal, muscled shape. During the actual movie, though, viewers around the world gasped when they saw that the God of Thunder had actually let himself go quite a bit in the time that followed Thanos’ snap.
This is just one example, of course, and with Favreau’s show now gearing up for season 2, we can’t wait to see what other surprises the Mouse House has in store for us.