Welcome to The Week in Fan Theories, your guide to what fan theories 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.
So, here’s what to look for (and look out for) this week.
Is there a second, hidden twist in Us?
**Spoilers for Us ahead**
A great horror movie gets people thinking after they leave the theater, and Jordan Peele's Get Out follow-up, Us, is just such a movie. There are plenty of things for fans to wonder about (What happens next? Where did the Tethered come from? What do they symbolize?), but the leading theory in the week after the film's release is that there is a second twist.
Us ends with the reveal that the protagonist Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) had actually been her terrifying Tethered doppelgänger Red (also Nyong'o), and that the two had switched places as children. This fan theory argues that this wasn't the film's only switcheroo.
Reddit user hoopsterben posits that her son Jason (Evan Alex) switched places with his Tethered, Pluto, the summer before the events of the film. As evidence, they point to Jason's inability to perform his magic trick despite having learned it the previous summer (and that Pluto's facial burns were a result of Jason practicing), the moment when he builds a sand-tunnel instead of a sandcastle, and the fear in Adelaide's eyes when Pluto self-immolates. She realized, the theory explains, that it was her "real" son going up in flames.
"At the end, he has realized that his mother, at one point, has also switched bodies," the theory concludes. "She gives him a look almost like 'I also know what you know' and then he puts on his mask, as a symbol of the masks they will now wear for the rest of their lives.
It's indeed an interesting theory, and it makes sense thematically, which is important for such a thematically rich film. Jason and Pluto swapping places would only further a possible interpretation of the film, that there really is no difference between the Tethered and their doubles other than circumstance.
There are some narrative and in-fiction issues with this theory. How did the real Jason become so feral if he was only amongst the Tethered for a year, and why didn't Adelaide and Gabe notice the switch, given how obvious it was that there was something wrong with "Adelaide" when Red first took her place? Would such a reveal cheapen the Adelaide twist or strengthen it?
There are ways to explain these inconsistencies away, and given that the crux of the theory depends on an off-screen, unconfirmed swap that took place a year before the events of the film, there's room to let your imagination fill in the blanks.
That's the thing, though. Us isn't a puzzle box that can just be solved. It begs lots of different interpretations and readings. The Tethered can represent the worst in us, according to one reading, while another says they represent the underclass, put down and damaged by society rather than any intrinsic difference. Believing that Jason and Pluto switched places is a compelling idea, but there's not nearly enough evidence for it in the movie for it to be provable. It's just an interpretation, but even if it's not possible to nail it down, it's pretty solid engagement.
Ant-Man will defeat Thanos by going giant-size inside his butt
There's really no need to "explain" this is a very, very good fan theory any further. There is not a chance that it will actually happen (Disney is not going to turn Paul Rudd into a human suppository and then kill their ultimate supervillain with catastrophic anal expansion), but it's a great joke. That makes a big difference when it comes to fan theories — it's fun to play in a silly space, so long as the joke isn't taken too seriously. Oftentimes, that's what happens when a news aggregator frames a goofy theory in a plausible way in order to bait fans into reading.
That's not what Vox did, as their article explaining the theory leaned in to how absurd it is, treating it more as a meme than a legitimate Avengers: Endgame prediction. There's still some hedging involved, as Vox notes that there are some moments from the comics that could serve as (much less gross) precedent for such a move, but that's forgivable.
Talking about this stuff with a wink is fun, and in the nigh-impossible off-chance some aspect of this kooky meme actually happens, then at least Vox covered its ass (just like Thanos might want to, just in case).
Thanos will be dealt with in the first 20 minutes of Avengers: Endgame
Variations of this theory have been going around since Captain Marvel came out, and for good reason. Carol Danvers is so strong that it seems as though she would be able to handily defeat Thanos in a fight, especially if Thor is wielding Stormbreaker by her side.
"Only they can't use the Gauntlet, whether it is broken or none of them has the knowledge to figure out how to do it," writes Redditor repfect68, whose post served as the basis for most of the write-ups about this theory. "So at the end of the day, they won the fight but solve nothing. Going home, and we get the 'we should move on' attitude we saw in trailers. They are desperate but has nothing that they can do about it." [sic]
The theory continues, explaining that Ant-Man’s unexpected return will jump-start the action again, and from there, the movie will be about undoing the Snap, rather than defeating Thanos. This particular iteration of the theory argues that there's going to be "a complete start over" of the MCU, thanks to time travel. That's going out on much more of a limb, but the first part of the theory is truly worth considering. In the fiction of the MCU, Captain Marvel and Thor's Stormbreaker do seem to have the power to defeat Thanos. From a narrative perspective, setting up the plot this way would make Endgame different from Infinity War, rather than just a repeat of the "gearing up to defeat Thanos in a big fight" storyline.
It might not happen in the first 20 minutes exactly, but this theorist is on to something when they argue that undoing the Snap will be the real focus of Endgame, not defeating Thanos. That part's easy: just have Ant-Man crawl up there and be the galaxy's worst laxative.
Littlefinger is dead, says Littlefinger
There's a very popular theory that Littlefinger faked his death in the last season of Game of Thrones and that he will end up sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of the upcoming final season. It's a crazy theory, one that's born out by some creatively gleaned "evidence" from last season and a lack of understanding of how television narratives work.
It really would not be satisfying if the focus of Game of Thrones' final season suddenly swerved from the struggle between Jon, Daenerys, Cersei, and the Army of the Undead, instead revealing that the whole story was actually about this morally bankrupt secondary character who faked his death.
Beyond the narrative pitfalls of making the entire story about Littlefinger at the last minute, there's a pretty big stumbling block for this theory: Littlefinger would need to be in the show again. And actor Aidan Gillen recently told Today Extra that he's not in the final season.
Speaking of the fan theory, Gillen estimated that "maybe 10 people would come up to me every day about it, which is a lot considering I haven't worked on it for two years."
Now, actors lie to keep secrets all the time, but maybe, just maybe, Gillen’s telling the truth rather than scheming about this contrived plot twist. His character died last season when his throat was cut with Valyrian steel, and Occam's razor will keep him dead.