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What is Baby Yoda?

You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to know about Baby Yoda.

The adorable, green-skinned, Force-wielding toddler known as Baby Yoda made his debut in the first episode of The Mandalorian, the Star Wars spinoff series that premiered on streaming service Disney+ in November. From the moment Baby Yoda appeared on screen, it was a quick evolution to worldwide viral phenomenon for the character, who’s officially called “The Child” by series creator Jon Favreau, the rest of the show’s creative team, and Star Wars studio Lucasfilm.

Even after one full season of The Mandalorian on Disney+, there’s still plenty we don’t know about The Child, who remains “Baby Yoda” in the hearts and minds of his rapidly expanding fanbase. From his origins to his home planet, plenty of mysteries surround Baby Yoda heading into season 2 of The Mandalorian. Here’s what we know about Baby Yoda so far.

What species is Baby Yoda?

Little is known about Baby Yoda’s species. In fact, the toddler is only the third member of his species to appear in the live-action Star Wars universe over the years.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

In addition to famed Jedi Master (and franchise icon) Yoda, the only other members of Baby Yoda’s species we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe have been the female character Yaddle (who appears in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) and this new, young character that will likely be forever known as Baby Yoda, no matter how old he gets.

Unlike much of the Star Wars universe, franchise creator George Lucas intentionally left Yoda’s species unidentified. Given that nearly every creature to ever appear in a Star Wars movie or TV show has been given a species name — and in many cases, a backstory — the omission of Baby Yoda’s species has created a longstanding mystery in the Lucasfilm saga’s canon. That mystery was one of Jon Favreau’s inspirations for the series, and along with a heaping dose of cuteness, it’s made Baby Yoda the breakout character in Disney+’s flagship series, The Mandalorian.

What is known about Baby Yoda?

Two things we do know are that Baby Yoda is approximately 50 years old and a male of the species.

In the Disney+ series’s first episode, The Mandalorian (aka Din Djarin) is told that the target he is being hired to track down is around that age (which adds to the surprise when he discovers the young creature), and the ex-Imperial scientist who later examines Baby Yoda confirms that information. Yoda himself lived to around 900 years old in the Star Wars universe, so it makes sense that Baby Yoda would still be a young child at 50 years old.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

During his examination of Baby Yoda, the ex-Imperial scientist also refers to the character as “him,” confirming his status as a male of the species. Officially licensed Disney merchandise also refers to the character as a male, so that particular question appears to have been answered.

Is Baby Yoda a clone?

Early on in the Disney+ show, a popular rumor suggested that Baby Yoda could be, well … a baby Yoda.

The idea that Baby Yoda could be a clone of the original Yoda seemed to make sense initially, given the extensive use of cloning in the wars that preceded the formation of the Galactic Empire — appropriately known as “The Clone Wars.” As seen in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars prequel trilogy and the long-running Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series (which recently concluded on Disney+), the Galactic Republic used a massive army of clones in its battle with the trade federation, only to have the clones turn on the Jedi in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and lay the foundation for the rise of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars universe. One can only hope a Darth Vader-esque turn to the Dark Side isn’t in Baby Yoda’s future.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fortunately, in the seventh episode of The Mandalorian, Djarin’s new friend Kuiil appeared to debunk the clone theory when he indicated that Baby Yoda doesn’t look like the product of cloning. Given that Kuiil is a former Imperial worker familiar with the cloning process, he would likely know the telltale signs of a clone — even a clone as adorable as Baby Yoda.

How powerful is Baby Yoda?

Another thing the Disney+ series has made abundantly clear is that Baby Yoda’s species has a powerful control of The Force in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars universe.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Both members of Baby Yoda’s species we’ve seen in the past have been high-ranking Jedi Masters, and now with Baby Yoda displaying similarly potent abilities, it stands to reason that he is adept at using The Force, too.

It’s also interesting to note how much of a toll using The Force seems to take on Baby Yoda. The little guy tends to fall into a deep sleep after extensive use of his powers — something we never saw with the older Yoda. For Baby Yoda, mastery of The Force clearly requires some practice and some physical growth to fully harness its potential.

Where did Baby Yoda come from?

We don’t know much about how Baby Yoda came to be in the care of a group of heavily armed bounty hunters on a remote planet, but the second season of The Mandalorian seems primed to investigate that question as Djarin attempts to bring Baby Yoda home.

It’s reasonable to expect that part of The Mandalorian’s mission will involve him retracing Baby Yoda’s path to that barren planet, so some clues could present themselves as the Disney+ show progresses deeper into the Star Wars universe’s lore.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why do the ex-Imperials want Baby Yoda?

So far, the Disney+ show hasn’t fully explained why the enigmatic former Imperial agent known as “The Client” — or his even more deadly superior, Moff Gideon, who served under Darth Vader — want Baby Yoda so badly. In the brief time that Baby Yoda was in their care, the former Imperial scientist was instructed to extract something from the Force-wielding toddler’s body. That’s led some fans to suggest the former Galactic Empire is looking to reassert its power through experiments with midi-chlorians, the fictional cells in the Star Wars universe that allow someone to manipulate The Force, which could theoretically be in abundance within a Force-wielder as powerful as Baby Yoda.

Knowing all of that, it’s easy to see why Baby Yoda’s powerful control of The Force — and connection to one of the greatest Jedi Masters of all time — would make him an intriguing asset for the remnants of the Galactic Empire to investigate. The danger in the Star Wars universe, it seems, is far from over for Baby Yoda.

Why isn’t Baby Yoda in the movies?

The Mandalorian is set between the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so with members of Baby Yoda’s species living hundreds of years, there’s a good chance that the show’s adorable co-star would still be alive and chomping on frogs when Rey, Finn, and the rest of the sequel trilogy’s heroes come together later in the Star Wars universe’s timeline.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whether that means Baby Yoda is destined to meet his end in the Disney+ show prior to the First Order’s rise in The Force Awakens or that he and (hopefully) Djarin are living out their lives in peace on some remote planet remains to be seen. One thing we do know is that neither Baby Yoda nor his caretaker appears in any of the three Star Wars universe films set after Return of the Jedi, which is certainly curious.

Is Baby Yoda a puppet?

In keeping with modern Star Wars movie magic, Baby Yoda is brought to the screen in The Mandalorian through a combination of practical puppetry, animatronics, and computer-generated effects. The Baby Yoda puppet was created for the Disney+ series by special effects studio Legacy Effects and reportedly cost $5 million to produce. Puppet technicians control Baby Yoda’s eyes, mouth, and other facial features, while a mixture of human and animal sounds are used for Baby Yoda’s voice.

On January 16, George Lucas even appeared in a photo posted by Jon Favreau holding the Baby Yoda puppet.

— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) January 17, 2020

Why was Baby Yoda kept a secret?

Secrets are increasingly difficult to keep in the Internet era, but that’s exactly what Disney managed to do with Baby Yoda, whose existence wasn’t revealed until the first episode of The Mandalorian was available on Disney+. Jon Favreau was reportedly inspired to keep the existence of Baby Yoda a secret due to a conversation with Solo: A Star Wars Story actor Donald Glover, who lamented the scarcity of true surprises in the modern entertainment world.

Disney made the surprising decision to go along with the plan and keep Baby Yoda a secret — delaying the availability of Baby Yoda merchandise and all of the revenue that went along with it — in order to preserve the discovery Disney+ subscribers would experience when Baby Yoda first appears in The Mandalorian‘s series premiere.

What happens to Baby Yoda in season 2?

Now that The Mandalorian has made it his sworn duty to protect Baby Yoda and return him to his home, we’re likely to learn the answers to some of these questions — including some of the big ones, if we’re lucky — when season 2 of The Mandalorian returns to Disney+ in October.

At this point, Disney isn’t revealing any details about what the future holds for Baby Yoda or Djarin, but even months after the conclusion of the Disney+ show’s’ first season, the Baby Yoda train doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

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Rick Marshall
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