How Star Wars Avoided George Lucas' Main Concern With Baby Yoda

By Andrew Gilman Posted:
George Lucas Grogu

Star Wars mastermind George Lucas had a notable concern about how Grogu was handled in The Mandalorian, but Dave Filoni and co. luckily found a way around it.

Filoni has taken on a major role in Star Wars storytelling, overseeing the live-action MandoVerse alongside Jon Favreau. Lucas remains in close contact with Filoni, as well as Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and has visited the sets of each Star Wars project under Disney's umbrella. 

Filoni was initially hesitant to include a baby of Yoda's species in The Mandalorian, as he didn't want to take away from the mystique of the Jedi Master. Eventually, he acquiesced, and with Favreau, created one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise.

But it took some convincing, and the director needed to hear from his master on the idea as well. Grogu's abilities with the Force and how he chose to follow the Jedi path are known now, but there was a time when the creative minds behind the character didn't fully know the little guy's backstory - so Filoni turned to Lucas for advice on how to handle Star Wars' new mascot.

George Lucas' Biggest Worry with Baby Yoda

Mandalorian, George Lucas, Baby Yoda
The Direct

In the Star Wars book, The Art of The Mandalorian: Season 2, writer and director Dave Filoni reveals that he had discussions with George Lucas regarding Grogu. In those talks, the Star Wars creator wanted to ensure that the character had learned how to hone his Force abilities:

"I had a talk with George, at one point, about the Child, and his main concern was that the kid has to have a proper amount of training."

Grogu is an interesting situation in Star Wars because he's a baby. Not in the sense that he's a cash cow for endless merchandise, or that he can be used in stories for the next thousand years. Having a character who's Force-sensitive and learned under the Jedi but remains a baby decades after the Order's demise is a unique concept and the believability of what he can do hinges entirely on what he learned before.

Luckily, the team behind The Mandalorian managed to steer clear of Lucas' biggest worry about introducing a baby version of Yoda – and it seems this will continue into the third season.

How The Mandalorian Avoided George Lucas' Grogu Concern

Baby Yoda, The Mandalorian
The Direct

It makes complete sense that Lucas would find it critical that Grogu has proper training - this goes for both the past and the present. For Grogu to demonstrate such power as to lift beasts and heal injured beings, he would need to have been taught how to make use of his abilities. While his exile may have hindered his growth, it's imperative that the kid continues to learn if he's going to grow beyond his helpless state and become a capable warrior and, eventually, teacher.

Basically, Grogu is the opposite of Rey. He's of a species that's naturally gifted with the Force, but without training and discipline, there's no chance of him evolving as a Jedi. Filoni and Favreau have followed the principles of becoming a Jedi with the character, emphasizing the need for him to devote himself and take the time needed to harness his abilities. As Luke tells Mando before taking Grogu, "Talent without training is nothing."

While Grogu has left Luke's tutelage behind for the time being, that doesn't mean his training is over. Mando undoubtedly has a lot to instill upon his surrogate son ahead in Season 3, even if it isn't of the Jedi variety. Grogu straddling the line between two worlds, one of the Force and one of the Mandalorian, will make his growth going forward feel even richer whilst honoring Lucas' hopes for the character moving forward.

This isn't the only key piece of advice Lucas instilled on the current team at Lucasfilm, with the Star Wars creator even having a major influence on the crew's design philosophy.

George Lucas' Greatest Star Wars Lesson is to Simplify

George Lucas, Phantom Menace, Star Wars logo
The Direct

As it turns out, Lucas had an indirect influence on a decision made for The Mandalorian's "Chapter 15 - The Believer" as revealed by concept artist Doug Chiang - thanks to a set visit for Rogue One:

"An early idea was that the Imperial drivers were wearing the same armor as the AT-AT commanders [from The Empire Strikes Back]. Ultimately, we decided to go with the tank troopers from Rogue One [a design chosen by George Lucas on a Rogue One pre-production set visit]."

Concept artist Doug Chiang explained in the book's foreword that The Mandalorian's art department continues to follow the guiding principles of design Lucas established for Star Wars:

"So, what makes a strong Star Wars design? The guidelines established by George Lucas are simple: Design as if a child could draw it. Design for the silhouette. Design for the iconic logo. Keep it simple. Give it personality and make it believable."

George Lucas Proves He is Still the Master of Star Wars

Old and Young George Lucas with The Mandalorian
Star Wars

Darth Vader. Yoda. R2-D2. The Mandalorian.

Name the Star Wars character, and there's an iconic silhouette. Each human, alien, and droid has a distinct look that makes them instantly recognizable. The Disney+ intro for each piece of new Star Wars content illustrates this as well. There's a simplicity to the designs in the franchise, but the guiding principles of its creator have ensured that they all remain relevant decades after their creations.

It's incredible that even after a decade has elapsed since the ink dried on Lucasfilm's sale, George Lucas continues to have such a remarkable influence on his franchise. It hasn't all been smooth; The Maker originally planned to be deeply involved with the sequel trilogy, but Disney threw out his story treatments and the writers and directors of the films didn't follow up his saga true to form. This largely turned Lucas away from his old company, and he's very much taken a back seat since.

But even his short set visits have yielded great results. Who better to pick out a design for a new trooper in Rogue One than the man who started it all?

And the choice later proved beneficial for The Mandalorian, as the right design already existed for the situation needed. During a set visit to Solo, Lucas suggested during the scene in Lando's closet on the Millennium Falcon that Han wouldn't care to put a cape back on the rack - he would just drop it. And that small action was Han Solo.

When it comes to Jedi wisdom and explanations about the Force, Lucas is naturally the man to go to. Dave Filoni has gone on epic rants about the Force himself, and everything he says, he learned specifically from George while making The Clone Wars. Lucas stated during the 40th Anniversary panel at Star Wars Celebration 2017 that he looks at Filoni as one of his kids, and the latter has done everything he can to remain faithful to his mentor's vision.

Grogu will next appear in The Mandalorian Season 3, which is rumored to premiere on Disney+ on February 22, 2023.

- About The Author: Andrew Gilman