The Star Wars universe has been around for over four decades by now, and when you have that kind of time to mull over three trilogies, three standalone films, dozens of television seasons, and countless EU books, it’s inevitable that some eager fans are going to devise their own ideas about the truth behind certain parts of the stories.
Due to the sheer number of these fan theories, the reality is that most of them end up being totally wrong. But every now and again – be it down to dumb luck, attentive viewing, or even a theory becoming popular enough to eventually be made canon – some fan theories end up with the high honor of being vindicated as true. Or at least, vindicated as being as true as possible given the turbulent nature of filmmaking, anyway…
Jar Jar Binks, Sith Lord
Hear me out: You may or may not be familiar with the iconic fan theory that Jar Jar Binks – the near-universally maligned comic relief Gungan from the near-universally maligned first installment of the prequel trilogy – was supposed to be revealed as a Sith Lord in later movies, but plans changed when fan reactions to the character were overwhelmingly negative. Proponents of this theory point to Jar Jar’s pivotal roles in a series of important plot points – not only does he secure Palpatine emergency powers, but if it weren’t for him causing a scene on Tatooine, Anakin and Obi-Wan would never even have met. As well as this, they contend that Jar Jar’s apparent incredible luck during the invasion of Naboo was in fact highly skilled manipulation of the Force that was disguised as imbecilic clumsiness to hide his true nature.
It’s a funny idea, but is there any truth to it? Yes, actually, according to Ahmed Best – who, being the voice of Jar Jar, might know a thing or two. When quizzed about the theory in an interview with YouTuber Jamie Stangroom, he confirmed: “There’s a lot about it that’s true… could Jar Jar have evolved into that? I think the answer’s yes. ” But “because of the backlash… Lucasfilm backed off of Jar Jar a lot.” Remarkably, this effortlessly hate-able goof may well have been a hair’s breadth from being a Sith mastermind controlling the entire saga. So, do not look down on Jar Jar in future. Yousa underestimate the power of the dark side.
Palpatine is Anakin’s father
Anakin Skywalker was built differently. No, literally – Anakin was ‘built’ (so to speak) differently to anyone else we know of in the Star Wars universe in that – according to Shmi Skywalker, his mother – there was no father involved in his conception. This not-so-subtle allusion to another famous desert handyman was, for a while, taken by fans to be just another of The Phantom Menace‘s numerous goofy misfires, but things changed come Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine tells Anakin he knows how to manipulate the Force to create life. Eagle-eyed viewers put two and two together, and put forward the shocking theory that Darth Vader was the Emperor’s attempt at a custom-built apprentice.
Well, according to a scene that was scripted but eventually cut from Revenge of the Sith, this is exactly what happened; to finally persuade Anakin over to the Dark Side, Palpatine tells him “I arranged for your conception. I used the power of the Force to will the midichlorians to start the cell divisions that created you. ” Though, as this was, of course, absent from the final film, viewers are still ultimately free to make up their own minds on this point. But given that Palpatine being Anakin’s father would make Kylo Ren his great-grandson, and that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter… well, I know what I’d rather believe.
Bragging to Luke and Obi-Wan about the speed of his trusty starship, Han makes the (now-infamous) claim that the Millennium Falcon once “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” Which, to the uninitiated, probably sounds pretty impressive. There’s a problem, though. A parsec is not a fictional piece of Star Wars jargon like ‘nerf herder’ or ‘jizz-wailer’ (which, since you ask, is the term given to musicians who specialize in the musical genre ‘jizz,’ exemplified by the trendy ensemble who perform in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. Yes, really). A parsec is, in fact, a real-life measurement, and it’s a unit of distance – not time. So, the equivalent would be to say: “You bet my car can go fast. It finished Route 66 in under 3 miles! ” which is not a boast you would make to anyone who you suspected might know what they’re talking about.
Now, it’s true enough that 2018’s Solo explained this incongruity by showing Han take a shortcut through the Kessel Run via the Akkadese Maelstrom, cutting the distance from 20 parsecs to (just over) 12. Well, it was lovely of Disney to tie up that loose end for us, but in actual fact, there has been another, much simpler answer to the parsec problem at least since 1977. Of the countless fan theories that have been floating around ever since. A New Hope debuted, one held that Han was simply throwing fancy-sounding gibberish at Luke and Obi-Wan because he was in debt and needs their money (after all, he just was approached by a teenage bumpkin and an old guy who lives in a cave. not try your luck?). Well, for the 40 years before Solo came along, this interpretation was spot on; a draft script for A New Hope from 1976 states that, after the “Kessel Run” brag, Obi-Wan “reacts to Solo’s stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation. ” These certainly seem to be the directions Alec Guinness follows in the finished movie, quite clearly responding to Han’s boast with an unimpressed frown. Disney’s explanation makes sense too, of course – but it’s nice to know that even before that, there was still some logic behind Han’s parsec peculiarity.
Darth Vader had always been planning to overthrow Palpatine
On the surface, this one’s hardly a surprise. Out of his first four film appearances, Vader compels various characters to help him overthrow the Emperor in two of them (Luke in The Empire Strikes Back; Padmé in Revenge of the Sith), and then, in Return of the Jedi, he finally makes good on his plan and throws his boss down a reactor shaft. Nonetheless, there was debate in the fandom for some time whether his killing of Palpatine was a spontaneous decision or something he’d been plotting for years. Pieces of evidence from the EU, like the theory that Palpatine constructed Vader’s suit to limit his powers in case of rebellion, or the events of the non-canon. The Force Unleashed, were used to bolster the arguments.
As later movies and media made clear, the idea that Vader had it in for his master pretty much from day one isn’t so much idle speculation as much as it’s the only sane conclusion to draw once we learned how Sith apprenticeships actually work. In The Phantom Menace, Yoda establishes “always two, there are. No more, no less – a master, and an apprentice. ” But The Clone Wars goes into a little more depth. Darth Bane, sole Sith survivor of the Sith-Jedi war, was the first to take seriously the issue of the Sith’s chronic backstabbing disorder – “the Sith killed each other. Victims of their own greed, ”in his own words. But how do you solve such a problem? The answer is to work smarter, not harder. Why try to stamp out your people’s reflexive lust for disloyalty when you can simply re-work the whole system around it? Bane’s ‘Rule of Two’ demanded there were only two Sith Lords in existence at any one time, the apprentice being obliged to murder their master in order to become one themselves. So, when Vader signed on as Palpatine’s apprentice, the idea that he would someday try to overthrow him was more or less part of the contract.
The Death Star was an inside job
This is one of the earliest and most famous fan theories, giving rise to an endless stream of jokes, memes, and parodies almost as soon as A New Hope came out. After all, isn’t it a little weird how Vader left the Death Star mere moments before it blew up? He was in it the whole time, man! But even on the more serious side of things, theories have held for decades that the only explanation for an exhaust port at the end of an X-wing sized trench that, if shot, would instantly blow the whole station, was that someone must have put it there on purpose.
As it happened, the only thing these theorists really got wrong was the identity of the saboteur. While a popular Reddit post suggested that the port was built out of revenge by Geonosian slaves, the movie Rogue One revealed that the architect of the Death Star’s destruction was one Galen Erso – an imperial scientist who developed a conscience. Erso was considered indispensable to the Death Star’s creation, so he feigned loyalty to the project whilst secretly designing it with its iconic fatal flaw in the hopes that the Rebellion would get hold of Death Star plans and work out how to destroy it. Given its position as quite possibly the first fan theory Star Wars ever spawned, it’s fitting that the conspiratorial origins for the Death Star’s absurdly vulnerable exhaust port were eventually immortalized in canon.
Next: The Craziest Fan Theories About Famous Movies