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, I feel like I'm having deja vu. Part of that is because of two of the big theories that were making the rounds on the entertainment content circle are wild guesses about the distant future of the MCU, and we deal with these all the time. The other reason is I covered pretty much the exact same theory about Star Wars back in July. The theory is about time loops, but when it comes to the Fan Theory Industrial Complex, time truly is a flat circle. Anyway, let's commence.
ANT-MAN 3 WILL INTRODUCE THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Marvel confirmed this week that director Peyton Reed will return to direct the third Ant-Man movie, which is expected to begin filming in early 2121, meaning it would likely come out in 2022 as part of the MCU's Phase 5. Fans don't know anything else about the movie because, again, it was just announced and won't start filming for over a calendar year. Despite (or perhaps, because of) this lack of any information, at least one fan theory has emerged that connects Ant-Man 3 with another supposedly forthcoming Marvel franchise that we know even less about.
What if, the theory posits, the Fantastic Four were exploring in the Quantum Realm, rather than outer space, when they got their superpowers. There is a brief glimpse of what looks like an advanced domed city in the Quantum Real in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which some fans believe could be Chronopolis, a city created by the Fantastic Four villain Kang the Conqueror. Could Marvel introduce its First Family in the next Ant-Man flick now that the studio has the FF's film rights after acquiring Fox?
As with most theories that attempt to predict or connect movies that are literally years away, it's certainly possible that this theory is true. There's so little public evidence of Marvel's plans for either Ant-Man's or the Fantastic Four's futures that it could be this. But, Ant-Man has always been one of the MCU's lighter, less-essential franchises — by design. Sure, the post-credits sequence of Ant-Man and the Wasp was essential to the plot of Avengers: Endgame, but the movie as a whole was deliberately low-stakes and featured fewer connections to the wider MCU, especially in the wake of Avengers: Infinity War. It seems unlikely that Marvel would use Ant-Man to casually introduce one of their most important franchises, now back in Disney's grasp as part of a massive corporate takeover.
DEADPOOL AND CABLE WILL JOIN THE MCU VIA TONY STARK'S TIME TRAVEL DEVICE
Deadpool fans are wondering how (or if) Disney is going to introduce the Merc With a Mouth to the MCU. There are many theories about how this could happen, including several involving Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but this theory has another idea. What if Cable, in the future, finds the ruins of the upstate Avengers Compound and discovers one of the time-traveling watches that Tony Stark created for Avengers: Endgame? Tony's device looks like the device that Cable uses to go back in time in Deadpool 2, after all.
Except, no, it doesn't. The original Reddit post of the theory contains a picture comparison of the two devices, and it's clear they're not identical. Nor should they be, since one was a prop made by Fox and the other was a prop made by Disney. Furthermore, Deadpool takes place in the present day, so even if Cable found the ruined Avengers Compound in his future and traveled back in time, that wouldn't account for Deadpool's absence in the MCU.
This isn't meant to be an attack on the Redditor who came up with the theory. It was less of a fully-fledged theory and more of a legitimately neat little observation that the two time-travel plots are similar enough to have some fun with. But all of these in-universe theories about how Deadpool and Co. could enter the MCU are missing the larger, meta point. Before figuring out a way to bring Deadpool into the MCU's fiction, Disney needs to decide what it's going to do with the popular R-rated franchise and the MCU, its all-ages cash cow. That's a big decision that's as much driven by monetary calculations as it is by creativity, so all these dubiously clever, Easter-egg driven means to get Deadpool into the franchise are premature.
REY WILL GO BACK IN TIME AND BECOME SHMI SKYWALKER
This theory posits that Emperor Palpatine sent Rey back in time because she's the perfect candidate to be Anakin Skywalker's mother, who we know as Shmi Skywalker. An almost identical version of this exact theory was popular back in July, but since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker doesn't come out for another month, there's still time to recycle some content.
I wrote about why this theory is almost certainly wrong back then, noting that it would mean that Rey's ultimate purpose would be to go back in time, lose her identity, become a slave, give birth to an Important Man, marry another man, and then get tortured and die in her son's arms. Disney ain't about to do that to Rey, a character who is an icon for a generation of girls and young women.
The whole theory really withers under that criticism, but it's worth noting that, if this latest iteration of the theory is true, that means Palpatine's grand plan was to go back in time and create the person who would eventually betray and kill him. Cool plan, idiot.
Check back in like a month when this theory will probably manage to get one final write-up in this column, or check back in a little more than a month in the extremely unlikely event that I'll post a video of myself eating a literal crow.