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Welcome to The Week in Fan Theories, your guide to what fan theories, good and bad, are taking the internet by storm!
With so many fan theories floating around the web, it can be hard to know which ones to take seriously and which ones are wildly off the mark. Some theories are brilliant breakthroughs that reveal a whole new understanding of what a work of fiction means, or they're spot-on predictions about what's going to happen in the next installment. Others are specious bunk, deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get aggregated by some of the less scrupulous news sites.
This week, we've got two theories in the wake of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Both are almost certainly wrong, but the second one is interesting, at least. Then, we'll finish with some almost certainly correct theories about the big shocker at the end of Stranger Things Season 3. There are gonna be spoilers for both Spider-Man and Stranger Things, obviously.
MYSTERIO LIVES ON (AS A ROBOT)
The first of Far From Home's two post-credit scenes reveals that Mysterio managed to launch one final attack at Spider-Man from beyond the grave, having released an altered video that frames Peter Parker as a villain and reveals his secret identity to the world, but what this theory posits is, what if he's not dead? Well, not really dead.
This theory was seemingly prompted by a dubious claim that it "almost looks like [Beck's] eye contracts when he dies. It's almost mechanical, almost like a robot." That's a stretch, but the theory goes on to argue that having Mysterio be a robot would solve some alleged discrepancies with how he managed to fake that footage inside the Tower Bridge. Finally, the theorist notes that in Marvel's Ultimate line, which inspired a lot of the look and feel of the MCU, Mysterio is a robot piloted by someone from an alternate universe.
Look, Mysterio was a fun villain, and Jake Gyllenhaal was great in the part, but Spider-Man has so many great baddies in his rogues gallery that it would be a bit of a waste to bring Mysterio back instead of featuring a new villain in the next Spider-Man movie. And bringing Mysterio back via a retroactive reveal that he was a robot the whole time is just needlessly complicated. Any "problems" with how Mysterio faked that footage at the end aren't solved by making him a robot. The dude's entire shtick was deception, so it makes a lot more sense that he and his team falsified some footage rather than them creating a sentient Mysterio-robot.
(For what it's worth, it's also possible that J. Jonah Jameson had a hand in manipulating the footage — he doesn't historically like Spider-Man much, either.)
IRON MAN 2 VILLAIN JUSTIN HAMMER IS BEHIND THE SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS
This theory is not especially plausible, as while there's some convincing evidence within the fiction of the MCU, it's not likely that Marvel is actually going to make it canon. Still, Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer is by far the best part of the much-maligned Iron Man 2, so I'll indulge a fun theory that gives him more opportunity to be the MCU's smarmiest little weapons designer.
Essentially, the theory explains that Hammer, who was last seen in prison in a Marvel short, holds a grudge against Tony Stark, and while he doesn't have Stark-level genius, he's a pretty good designer. The theory argues that it's Hammer who helped Vulture create weaponry out of Chitauri tech, and it's Hammer who helped Mysterio and his gang get their plan in action — a pair of hands seen at the end could even be Hammer's, perhaps.
Will this theory happen? No. Having Hammer be secretly responsible for both of Spider-Man's villains would steal some of their agency, and to what end? Would Vulture be a better character if the baddie from one of the MCU's less acclaimed films been behind him the whole time? Does Hammer even have the technical abilities to build any of Vulture's weaponry? His inventions in Iron Man 2 kinda sucked, and he needed Ivan Vanko's help to make the more complex ones.
Nah, Justin Hammer is not the MCU's next Thanos, secretly working behind the scenes of all the Spider-Man movies. Fun idea, though.
HOPPER IS TOTALLY NOT DEAD, NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND, LOL
Not since Jon Snow has there been a character "death" that fans haven't believed will stick less. Hopper 'dies' in the last episode of Stranger Things Season 3, but there are a million theories arguing that he's actually not dead, and they're probably right, even if the specifics might not be.
Essentially, most of the various theories posit that Hopper escaped death when Joyce blew up the machine by entering the portal to the Upside Down. As evidence, the theorists note that we don't see Hopper's body or the remains of what would have been his corpse, whereas the Russians who died in the season premiere left behind an obvious stain. Hopper also has experience going into the Upside Down, so he could plausibly survive the journey. Toward the end of the episode, Peter Gabriel's cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" plays, which is notable because the same song played when Will's "corpse" was found in Season 1, and Will certainly wasn't dead.
Also, the post-credits scene reveals that the Russians have an American in captivity, which fans assume must either be Hopper or, possibly, Dr. Brenner. There are mountains of evidence within the fiction of the show, and in the real world, it doesn't seem likely that Netflix would actually write David Harbour off of the hit series, so expect this theory to be proven true, in one way or another.