The unexpected crossover of the year had a unique history.
The Simpsons producer Al Jean shares details on how the Maggie Simpsons in The Force Awakens From Her Nap short came to be and what other Disney properties the hit animated series can cross over with.
Simpsons and Star Wars
When it was announced that a Star Wars-themed Simpsons short would premiere on Disney+ on May 4, fans were quite taken aback and not just because there had been no leaks about it.
Simpsons fans know the series has taken scores of potshots at Disney over its 32 seasons, and that hasn’t changed even after Disney acquired Fox.
However, the series does air past episodes on Disney+, and as Jean explained to Variety, Disney had wanted a special short for the fan-favorite “May the 4th” date.
However, the request only came in early 2021, leaving the animators only a few months to prepare it and barely got it done in time.
And then they said, ‘we’d really like to time the Star Wars short for May the Fourth. Obviously, because that’s the big day. But that’s a very tight schedule. We immediately had to write it. I think the first draft is dated January 18. And we’ve been working on that staff with us and David and the animation ever since. We finally finished the mix on Friday last week. So I would say about three months is about as fast as you can do these things.”
The three-minute short has Baby Maggie put into a daycare packed with Star Wars characters. She ends up losing her beloved pacifier, leading to a clash with nemesis Gerald who’s drawn like Darth Maul.
The short is filled with Easter Eggs for fans from babies taking “naps” in carbonite to a shirtless child Kyo Ren.
Speaking to Comic Book Resources, Jean relates the dialogue-free short was designed for the one Simpson who never speaks.
“You know, so much of Star Wars is visual, and Maggie obviously doesn’t speak but is a very visually-oriented character. It just seemed that you could still fit all these characters in. You have nonverbal characters in Star Wars, like R2-D2 and BB-8, so that they would be ones that Maggie would communicate with well, and it just seemed to really work out. Maggie is just great, silent, tough, can take a fall — perfect silent comedian, like Buster Keaton.”
Star Wars-themed Simpsons short was for the fans
Like any Simpsons episode, the short has plenty of background gags that can only be noticed on pause. There’s also a tweaking of Star Wars via “rules” that include “no handrails” and “every episode must have at least two sunsets.”
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It wouldn’t be a Simpsons project without a gag on the chalkboard, which is in Aurebesh, the fictional alphabet of the Star Wars galaxy and has a special message.
“So I thought, “Oh, let’s put a message: ‘Congratulations, nerds. You figured it out.’ But they told us what we had written in our original color was, “Congratulations, nerfs!” They changed the F to a D and I appreciate the correction.”
While Disney isn’t known for poking too much fun at itself, Jean shared the company was truly open to what kind of gags would be used. Their only directive was not to utilize Grogu aka Baby Yoda.
We wrote the script and presented it to them, and they were extremely helpful. They only had one rule, which I totally got, which was they just said don’t overuse Grogu, because they were afraid — you know, the character is so popular that they don’t want to burn it out. They want to keep Grogu special, which I completely understand. So we just have a little tip of the hat to him.
They had other suggestions for characters we could use or things that would be accurate. They suggested the “No handrails” line, which was great. I really enjoyed the experience, so it was really a pleasure of collaborating with them.
More Simpsons crossovers?
The short has been a hit as it appears having the Simpsons do an official take on Star Wars is just what fans of both franchises have wanted.
Jean was cagey on the possibility of more Simpsons-Disney crossover shorts but indicated the possibility of the Simpsons going into the MCU.
“Well, we’re going to work with all of them on Disney+ roster, but I have a soft spot for Marvel, having started collecting comics when I was six, so it even predates Star Wars. And of course, there is a Star Wars Marvel comic, so!”
The short ends with shots mixing Star Wars and the Simpsons (Mr. Burns as Snoke) and leaves plenty of room for some future meetings of the two beloved franchises.
The Simpsons have never held back in taking shots at Disney.
Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens From Her Nap now streaming on Disney+.