The Mandalorian hid Baby Yoda in marketing, but that was a mistake. In the months leading up to the show's premiere on Disney+, it looked like The Mandalorian was finally going to pay off fan hype over The Empire Strikes Back's classic bounty hunter scene. Instead, creator Jon Favreau and company threw viewers a curveball, when they revealed at the end of the first episode the show's actual story is far more interesting than some might have expected. Indeed, the series' breakout star is "The Child," or Baby Yoda, as he's affectionately called by fans.
In the weeks leading up to The Mandalorian's debut, it was reported there would be a major Star Wars canon spoiler early on. Few could have predicted it'd be seeing an infant member of Yoda's mysterious species (who's said to be 50 years old), and that's because there was absolutely no indication Baby Yoda would be a character in the show. Disney likes to play things close to the chest in regards to Star Wars promotion, but in this instance, they might have been better served spotlighting Baby Yoda earlier.
Why The Mandalorian Marketing Hid Baby Yoda
As stated above, Disney has made a habit out of being extremely spoiler-averse in Star Wars marketing. Dating back to the first Force Awakens teaser in November 2014, advertising materials barely scratched the surface of the project's story, relying more on tone and essence to sell the films. This strategy has continued (to arguably mixed results) in the Rise of Skywalker campaign, banking heavily on nostalgia and previously established iconography rather than showcasing something new. However, it is worth mentioning that Star Wars as a brand is recognizable enough that this approach can be effective. Solo notwithstanding, audiences have shown they'll come to the latest Star Wars movie in droves, even if they don't know anything about the narrative.
The Mandalorian put its own spin on this, with intentionally vague previews and synopses that merely revealed the show would follow the titular bounty hunter as he traversed a lawless part of the galaxy in the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War. Trailers weren't shy to highlight the show's connections to the larger franchise mythos (Imperial remnants, classic aliens, etc.), but it was difficult to tell what The Mandalorian was about just by looking at the promotional items. Most of the time, secrecy is welcome, and Disney certainly shouldn't spoil huge plot developments, but a case can be made they overcomplicated things here.
Hiding Baby Yoda Was A Mistake
It didn't take long for it to be established Baby Yoda is the best thing The Mandalorian currently has going for it. The adorable, scene-stealing toddler is the show's biggest talking point, as fans debate his role in the narrative and fawn over his cuteness. What's amusing about this development is viewers could have done those things even if Baby Yoda was in marketing. Clearly, there are big reveals to come regarding The Child, but Disney easily could have included clips from the first two episodes in trailers if they felt so inclined. The studio ended up manufacturing a twist, when it isn't that big of a spoiler Baby Yoda is in The Mandalorian. Official Star Wars social media channels are now posting about the character, only one week after the show premiered.
By keeping Baby Yoda under wraps, Disney made it more difficult on themselves to promote their own show (Baby Yoda is the crux of the first season's narrative) and on viewers to talk about The Mandalorian. As the first live-action Star Wars TV show, there was always going to be palpable buzz surrounding the series, but the hype would have intensified if Baby Yoda was revealed back in August when the first Mandalorian trailer came out. Additionally, Disney (surprisingly) cost themselves a golden merchandising opportunity. New Rise of Skywalker droid D-O isn't garnering as much interest as BB-8 and the Porgs in years past, so Baby Yoda could have been the must-have item of the holiday shopping season. Instead, because Lucasfilm felt it necessary to keep him hidden, Baby Yoda isn't on store shelves yet. That will surely change, but fans want a toy now while the iron's flaming hot.
New episodes of The Mandalorian premiere Fridays on Disney+