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The Week in Fan Theories: The real Joker, Baby Yoda the avenger, and the Bat-Signal
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.
If we're being totally honest, I'd rather watch Disney+ than dive deep into the fan theory wilderness, and chances are you feel the same. Let's make this quick, then. We've got yet another comment from one of the jokers behind Joker on a popular fan theory, a theory that connects The Mandalorian with The Rise of Skywalker in an especially infantile way (literally), and then a totally correct Batman fan theory. Here we go!
JOKER'S JOKER IS THE REAL JOKER, JOKES JOKER STAR JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Lots of Batman fans are trying to figure out how Joker, an ostensible stand-alone film, fits into any sort of larger Batman canon. One theory suggests that Joaquin Phoenix's character, Arthur Fleck, isn't the Clown Prince of Crime who battles Batman. Instead, Phoenix's character inspired the person who would go on to be Batman's greatest villain. After all, Bruce Wayne is only a little kid during the events of the movie. Director Todd Phillips, in an interview we covered in this column a couple of weeks ago, seemed to endorse the theory.
Phoenix, though, says he's the real deal. The actor spoke with The Los Angeles Times, who wrote, "For the record, Phoenix says, he does personally believe that Fleck is the actual Joker."
It's worth noting that Phoenix made it clear that this was his own personal opinion, and that he enjoyed the theorizing the movie inspired.
"It's been super interesting how people react to the movie and what they see — and to me, all of those answers are valid," he told the L.A. Times. "Normally you have to answer those questions. But this really is participatory and interactive. It's up to the audience."
"That's so rare, especially with a big studio movie, and I don't want to ruin that by saying, 'No, this is what it is,'" he continued. While I personally appreciate the sentiment, the continued existence of this column should make it clear that big studio movies aren't exactly stifling fan interpretations and fan theories.
'BABY YODA' FROM THE MANDALORIAN WILL GROW UP AND KILL PALPATINE IN EPISODE IX
The first episode of The Mandalorian is now streaming, so of course, theorists are trying to figure out how it will end — just kidding, they're trying to figure out how it will impact Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
The Mandalorian premiere ended with the reveal that the titular bounty hunter's target is a member of Yoda's unnamed species, who is a baby despite being 50 years old due to the way the long-living species ages. There are a couple of premature theories about what the TV show could mean for the next movie, including one that posits that the seemingly still-alive Palpatine harvested the Baby Yoda for his longevity. Another suggests that the baby will be 80 years old by the time of Rise of Skywalker, and it suggests that this Toddler Yoda will be the one to kill Palpatine.
This is all, frankly, nonsense. It is a huge deal that The Mandalorian is Disney+'s flagship show at launch. It is also a huge deal that Episode IX marks the end of the Skywalker Saga. It does not serve either story to link them at the 11th hour. The Mandalorian should stand on its own, and Rise of Skywalker shouldn't have Kid Yoda swoop in out of nowhere, push Rey and Kylo Ren out of the way, and then kill Palpatine's ghost with his laser sword.
Yes, Marvel's Kevin Feige has suggested that the Disney+ Marvel shows will be essential to understanding the films, but just how true that will be remains to be seen. And, we haven't made that deal with The Mandalorian yet. TV and movies are getting more connected, but a little green baby who appeared in the final seconds of a new TV show isn't going to drastically impact the conclusion of what's arguably the most celebrated story in pop culture.
THE BAT-SIGNAL IS THERE TO INTIMIDATE CRIMINALS... YES?
Normally I get mad because these fan theories are baseless and bad, but this time I'm irked because this fan theory is just... true? The theory posits that, rather than summon Batman, the Bat-Signal on the roof of the Gotham Police Department HQ is meant to intimidate would-be criminals by reminding them that the Dark Knight is out there.
The Bat-Signal has summoned Batman (though that hasn't really been as vital in many decades, as technology has evolved and Batman became a little savvier). But, like, it also scares criminals. It's a symbol meant to evoke fear in a cowardly and superstitious lot. Literally this exact scenario happens in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. This theory is obviously correct — I'm not sure why that means it needed to be content.