The second episode of the Mandalorian premiered on November 15, and with it came an explosion on social media, mostly centered around the character unofficially named “Baby Yoda”. The character, a fifty year-old baby with no official name, was unveiled at the end of the first episode as a surprise main character, and quickly rose to internet superstardom.
Following the release of episode two, the hashtag ‘BabyYoda’ rose to number one trending on Twitter for a short while, being rivalled only by the “Mandalorian” hashtag, which was also heavily trending. Thousands of tweets flooded the hashtag, centering around how cute Baby Yoda is, how it needs to be protected, and even memes involving the alien baby. Fans simply can’t get enough of the small force-wielding alien.
Perhaps the massive excitement and reactions can be attributed in part to the fact that Baby Yoda, and much of the Mandalorian in general, was kept a secret. Creator Jon Favreau said in an interview with Collider that he and his team fought valiantly to prevent Disney and Lucasfilms from creating and selling merchandise for the show, and to keep as much of what happens in the show under wraps as possible. The move contrasts with the long and iconic history of the Star Wars franchise selling merchandise for its new releases, which functioned as one of the best forms of promotion and profit, but also one of the biggest sources of spoilers.
Favreau wanted to prevent the risk of any spoilers and did so by making an agreement to put merchandise the Mandalorian temporarily on the back burner. The agreement keeps the element of surprise for each twist and turn, generating more intense fan reactions and cultivating a steady investment for the show. The move allows for surprises such as Baby Yoda to have such an enormous reaction, something that wouldn’t have been so intense had fans been exposed to merchandise of the baby alien months beforehand.
The Mandalorian premieres every Friday on Disney Plus.