Spoilers ahead for multiple Star Wars movies!
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens now out on DVD, a natural response is to delve deeper into the filmic universe, to uncover and investigate conspiratorial fan theories that have captured our attention. Some of them have long enthralled us — from decades ago in The Empire Strikes Back; some of them involve J.J. Abrams’s latest global sensation, the seventh episode. This article will examine and naturally debunk five fan theories that have emerged over the years.
1. The ‘Jar Jar Theory’ aka ‘Darth Jar Jar’
There has been a movement over the past few months suggesting that Jar Jar Binks is the true phantom menace in George Lucas’s prequel film Phantom Menace (and also, by extension, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith).
YouTuber Vincent H. Valentine’s video has gone viral, surging over 4,000,000 views. In it, the narrator provides over eight minutes of voiceover suggesting that Jar Jar is the secret behind George Lucas’s films. Did he push the Jedis to find young Anakin? Did he mock Qui-Gon Jinn behind his back, providing Anakin with an example of how to disrespect Jedi authority?
The video goes on to point out an abundance of other fine details in the prequels that suggest that Jar Jar Binks, the Gungan outcast from Naboo, is a Sith lord and the superior to Senator (soon Chancellor) Palpatine/Darth Sidious. He has stellar mind control abilities and can seemingly manipulate The Force.
Valentine and Cinema Blend’s Cory Chichizola continue to expound this theory, drawing examples from Jar Jar’s abilities to play dumb and feign innocence. He can leap 20 feet through the air and can swim yet he panics when his ship crashes into shallow waters. He seems to tinker with parts of ships — possibly to destroy them. But all of these far-fetched theories are probably just extraneous; products of a hyper-active and highly astute fandom.
Still, we must conclude here today that Jar Jar Binks is just a well-meaning, friendly — albeit clumsy — Gungan who just happens to be from the same planet (Naboo) as Palpatine. Just a coincidence; though suffice to say an elder Obi-Wan would not agree with it being pure luck. (Oh, and Sen. Jar Jar does convince the galactic senate to relinquish much of its power to Palpatine.)
2. Supreme Leader Snoke is Darth Vader?
What? Not quite. While it has gotten Star Wars fans thinking, let’s just say that Snoke cannot be Darth Vader, who is redeemed at the end of Return of the Jedi, and who moves off past purgatory — maybe with the likes of Bilbo Baggins from Return of the King. But we digress. While Snoke is quite intimidating and is an all-around grouch, that curmudgeon is definitely a separate identity from Darth Vader. What ill will would Snoke (aka “Vader”?) want to spread to Luke and the rest of the Jedis — which includes Rey, possibly a Skywalker — if his conflict has been resolved and he’s off to greener pastures?
While it’s not out of the realm of possibility, we still maintain that Snoke is another strange being: gigantic, shrewd, and hellbent on a reincarnation of the Empire, in some form.
Nevertheless, keep it in mind as we move from The Force Awakens to Episode VIII; and take note in the anthology movies — perhaps Snoke is there. He is said to be hundreds of years old. So, before the days of Anakin and Luke, perhaps Maz Kanata and Snoke vied for control of the galaxy — and helped flesh out the powers of The Force (both sides of it).
On the matter, Clint Burton of Movie Pilot writes:
Now I’m 100 percent sure that Snoke isn’t Vader for lots of reasons. So reason number one, Vader redeemed himself at the end of Return of Jedi by saving Luke and killed Sidious so why would he screw all that up. Reason number two, after redeeming himself, Vader caught a bad case of death and after escaping the exploding death star, Luke burned Vader’s body and plus we see his freaking ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi.
But keep track of these sometimes outlandish but ultimately perceptive fan theories.
3. Han Solo was anticipated to die in Empire Strikes Back?
An article from Enki Village entitled “The Most Bizarre ‘Star Wars’ Rumors” suggests that a base of viewers believed that Han Solo — long a fan favorite — would perish in the second original film, The Empire Strikes Back. The text reads,
The famous and one of the most influential characters of the Star Wars series, Han Solo, proved to be the link between the franchise and the fans. After the release of the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back trailer in 1980, a lot of fans speculated that the plot of the film was being directed towards killing the star actor. This rumor just started as a joke but soon the diehard fans took is seriously (and) … it blew out of proportion. Fans were sending Lucas Film Company letters saying that they would leave the franchise if their favorite character was eradicated. The fans loved the chemistry between Han and the Princess…
There are plenty of moments where Han could’ve slipped away from us here: in an asteroid field, after Lando leads him into a trap, as he gets frozen into a block of carbonite, and as Jabba the Hutt tries to claim his rocky “remains.” Still, Han lives on for many decades.
4. Luke Skywalker kills Han Solo in The Force Awakens?
A bloggish post from Latino Review in 2014 — attempting to predict the plot points of J.J. Abrams’s blockbuster — suggested that in The Force Awakens:
Luke will not die. It’s the other way around. There is a fight at the end. Luke wants to kill Driver (Kylo Ren) and Han steps in. Luke then kills Han which brings Luke back to … sanity. Han with his dying words begs Luke to let Driver (Ren) live, to trust him that everything will be alright and the he won’t succumb to the Dark Side. Luke trusts Han and does not kill Driver (Ren) – which will be a big mistake as we will see in Episodes VIII and IX.
While deeply creative and thought-provoking, this forecast was not too accurate. The media hype surrounding The Force Awakens was one like moviegoers have not seen in quite a while. And a part of this hype is a bevy of fans who would not rest until all three acts of Abrams’s film were plotted out. While they were right with a portion of the prophecy (Han’s fate that is), in no way does Luke Skywalker become a pivotal character (at least physically) in the seventh episode.
5. Maz Kanata is a part of the Dark Side and/or affiliated with Snoke?
There is much to say about Lupita Nyong’o’s character in the sequel trilogy, Maz Kanata — mainly that she fills a gaping hole left vacant by a certain green fellow, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, Yoda. She’s wise — in perfect accordance with her years (certainly not “beyond her years,” for she’s over a millennium old), and she has a peculiar and distinct connection to The Force. She has held onto Luke’s lightsaber.
She is also seemingly prone to premonitions, and has already guided the Jakku scavenger who’s become the main character of the sequels (Rey). But what of Maz’s past? Is it a dark one? What has she seen in all her years?
Jack Carr of Movie Pilot writes, “We’ve seen how J.J. Abrams loves to draw parallels between the old and the new, but it would still be a major shock if Maz was revealed to play a Palpatine-esque role in Episode VIII: a double agent, ostensibly an asset to the Resistance but secretly working against them.”
He goes on to say that:
You could even take the theory one step further by joining the dots and claiming that Maz is Snoke, but that doesn’t really fit with what we’ve been told about Snoke’s height, or what we’ve seen of his appearance. It’s more plausible that they’re working together for a common cause, and that Maz is his Lady Macbeth. Or, perhaps, Maz is aligned with the Dark Side but has no ties whatsoever with Snoke, and has an entirely different end game of her own.
The following analysis goes hand-in-hand with the consensus on the Darth Jar Jar spiel. Maz Kanata is simply too crucial to the Light Side of The Force to be a double agent, to be taunting Rey and Finn and ultimately Luke. She needs to be a Yoda-esque ally that will help guide and possibly even train Rey as she becomes one with The Force. Sometimes an amateur Jedi does not know how sensitive he/she is to the Midi-Chlorians that sustain The Force. Maz needs to be the Yoda that shows Rey the way. And what of Finn? Is he, too, a Jedi? Or a Han-esque figure close to The Force but not quite sensitive enough to it?
Let’s not discount this theory just yet, but keep in mind that it is crucial for Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow (Episodes VIII and IX directors, respectively) to utilize her strengths, not her weaknesses.
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