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.
This column is probably going to look pretty different next week, because I’m sure it’ll be full of new theories prompted by the first episode of Game of Thrones, rather than just the last gasps of the pre-season theorizing. And, yes, there’s still Avengers: Endgame coming a few weeks later. Before all heck breaks loose, though, we’ve got four entries this week. First, Samwell Tarly schools us, then the Night King builds a wall. After that, we’ve got a pretty interesting Avengers theory, and a rough one. Let’s get started
SOME GAME OF THRONES THEORIES ARE “DANGEROUSLY CLOSE,” BUT MOST ARE RUBBISH
John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly on Game of Thrones, spoke with HuffPost ahead of the Season 8 premiere, and he fielded a whole bunch of questions about fan theories. Bradley gave a few fun answers when asked to evaluate theories about why the White Walkers spared Sam in Season 2, whether Sam will survive to write the story of Game of Thrones, and why Podrick Payne is so good at sex, but he didn’t confirm or deny anything, really.
More interesting was Bradley’s take on fan theories as a whole. Essentially, there are some good ones, but they’re safely hidden by mountains of trash.
“Most of them, with regards to the final season and just with regards to the show in general, are wide of the mark and they’re interesting, but they’re just not right,” Bradley said. “They just don’t get it right on a purely factual level.
“But some of them you read and, well, they’re actually dangerously close to the truth. Some you think are actually uncomfortably veering quite close to what actually happens,” Bradley continued, before explaining why he’s not too worried about the show’s big secrets being revealed.
“You take comfort from the fact that [the good theories] are kind of in amongst all the nonsense, so as long as they’re swamped by nonsense, as long as they’re kind of the grain of sand on the beach of nonsense, then you’re happy because you think people might take this — insert your favorite theory here — as being the truth,” he said.
See, fan theorists? You gotta call your shots.
THE NIGHT KING BUILT THE WALL AND MADE A DEAL THAT PREVENTS HIM FROM CROSSING IT
Here’s hoping that the final season of Game of Thrones will reveal something — anything — about the Night King. Because he doesn’t speak, and there’s no real sense of what he really wants, fans have attempted to fill in the blanks with all sorts of kooky theories. (Yes, “Bran is the Night King” is a kooky theory).
A new theory that aims to explain the Night King is making the rounds, having been aggregated from a Reddit post. The theory posits that the Night King built the Wall in the first place during the Long Night, having used his wintery powers to construct the icy barricade to protect the White Walkers from men and the Children of the Forest. The theory goes on to explain that mankind, having been unable to defeat the Night King, claimed that they built the wall as a bit of legendary propaganda.
This would be a wild twist, one that would change the way the series works. If this were to be true, then originally the White Walkers were the victims, and wanted only to hide from the onslaught of men and Children of the Forest.
That’s a hell of a thing to throw into the last season of such a complicated story, though, and it seems doubtful that the show could successfully unload all this backstory from ancient history and turn the White Walker into a sympathetic character when, up until now, he’s essentially been death personified.
Plus, within the fiction of Thrones, this doesn’t make sense. The Wall had magic in it that prevented the White Walkers from crossing it, which doesn’t fit into the theory that the Night King built it. Another Redditor suggested that the Night King “made a deal” with Brandon the Builder, who then put spells on the Wall to prevent the Night King from returning.
It’s all needlessly contrived and complicated at a point in Game of Thrones’ lifetime when things are getting, on average, less complicated. The Night King’s a destroyer, not a builder.
CAPTAIN AMERICA WILL FINALLY PICK UP THOR’S HAMMER, MJOLNIR, IN ENDGAME
Thor’s beloved hammer can only be picked up by the worthy, and Steve Rogers seems pretty dang worthy. In Age of Ultron, he was the only Avenger who was able to make Mjolnir budge at all, and he’s wielded the hammer on several important occasions in the comics. (Fun fact, Superman wielded Mjolnir in the DC and Marvel crossover comic, but that’s neither here nor there.)
This “fan” theory — which was written by IGN Comics’ senior editor, but non-media fans have had similar theories in the past — argues that Endgame would be the perfect time for Captain America to finally swing Mjolnir around.
“Cap accomplishing this unthinkable feat is more than just a superhero getting to use a cool weapon,” IGN writes. “It’s is an affirmation of this weary soldier’s bravery and pure-heartedness. It’s a momentary reward, a literal gift from the gods for living his life as a shining beacon of morality.”
It’s true. Captain America lifting up Mjolnir is a big deal, as evidenced by the righteous backlash Marvel faced after letting a Nazi version of Steve Rogers wield the hammer in an infamous comic story. If this is truly Chris Evans’ last hurrah in the MCU, and by extension Steve Rogers’, it would be a fitting send-off to have Cap prove himself worthy.
Problem is, Mjolnir was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok, as the IGN article notes. While normally that would be a pretty good death knell for a theory, perhaps there’s hope. Set photos indicate that the heroes will travel back in time in Endgame, going back to the events of the Battle of New York in the first Avengers. Thor still had Mjolnir then, meaning there might be a possibility that Steve can pick it up and go to town.
All in all, it’s a pretty good theory. It has reasonable emotional and narrative stakes, has plausible precedent, and the potential to come true without a bunch of complicated contrivances. None of that’s a guarantee that this will happen, but Samwell Tarly probably won’t mind this theory too much.
THANOS WILL USE THE MIND STONE TO TURN CAPTAIN MARVEL EVIL
By the typically abysmal standards of the Daily Express — quite possibly the single worst site when it comes to reporting on fan theories — this one isn’t awful. That doesn’t mean it’s good or plausible, though.
The article, which is almost entirely made of quotes from the original Reddit post, notes that Thanos never used the Mind Stone’s powers in Infinity War, as he only recovered it right before using all six stones to complete the Gauntlet and snap half of all life away. This theory posits that he will use the Mind Stone on Captain Marvel in the beginning of the film, turning her against the rest of the Avengers and forcing her to retreat.
Now, the observation that Thanos never used the Mind Stone, which Loki used to great effect in the original Avengers, is a pretty good one. It would make a certain amount of sense if Thanos displayed the power of all his toys.
However… this is where it’s good for fan theorists to remember the real world. Think about the optics if Marvel were to bring back their wildly popular Captain Marvel for her second solo outing, only to have their first leading female superhero get turned into a bad guy in the opening moments of the film. It’s not exactly a good look, folks.