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 deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get traction on news sites.
Game of Thrones is over, and now my watch is ended. Well, temporarily, at least. There are still going to be plenty of post-mortem Game of Thrones theories, along with rampant speculation about the upcoming spin-offs and (hopefully) upcoming final A Song of Ice and Fire novels. However, we're gonna take a break from Thrones this week. The two more persistent fan theories — that Bran is the Night King and that Littlefinger was still alive — didn't come true in the end, so consider this off-week a victory lap.
WHAT'S THE HIDDEN EPISODE IX SECRET IN THE VANITY FAIR COVERS?
Vanity Fair released the magazine's massive, beautifully photographed preview of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Wednesday, and the many stories gave fans lots of new information and plenty to speculate about. VF senior staff writer Joanna Robinson, who wrote a couple of the stories, tweeted that the two covers of the magazine, which feature Kylo Ren and Rey, have a hidden secret.
Robinson hasn't confirmed or denied any of the theories (though she did retweet a solid joke submission), so fans have taken to speculating. One of the leading theories is that, since both characters are hiding one of their hands on the covers, Episode IX will continue the Star Wars franchise's storied history of amputation. It's plausible, though such dismemberment would be an awfully big plot point for Lucasfilm to have given away this far ahead of the movie. A variation on this theory suggests they're hiding wedding rings, which would be an even bigger plot development to give away. Also, Wookiepedia doesn't say anything about engagement rings being canon in the Star Wars universe.
Other theories are more symbolic. The sun appears to be setting on Kylo's cover and rising on Rey's. Perhaps Kylo, despite being an actual Skywalker descendant, will meet his end in Episode IX, while Rey will be the "rising Skywalker" of some sort. Perhaps the twin covers mean that Kylo and Rey will join forces once again.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME WILL INTRODUCE NORMAN OSBORN
Peter Parker is going to have to deal with Mysterio on his upcoming European vacation, but this fan theory posits that he'll also encounter one of Spider-Man's most famous foes, Norman Osborn. But, the wrinkle here is that Osborn won't be his most iconic Spidey villain, the Green Goblin, but an evil Iron Man.
In Marvel comic storylines from the late '00s and early '10s, longtime Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn takes advantage of several crises to rehabilitate his public image, eventually using the PR to become President. He's still evil, though, and a part of his plan involves making himself out to be a benevolent superhero. His persona is Iron Patriot, an identity that harnesses Captain America's patriotism and slaps it on an Iron Man suit as a form of propaganda.
"So Tom Holland went on an interview a while ago and talked about how there's gonna be a scene in FFH that fans are gonna hate," the theory explains. "A theory also came out recently that Norman Osborn is gonna form the Dark Avengers. What if he shows up and calls himself the new Iron Man, and this is the scene Holland was talking about?"
It's an interesting theory, especially since we know that Peter is grieving Tony Stark's death. Seeing somebody else pretending to be him — or even claim that they're carrying on his legacy — would be upsetting, and it would introduce an iconic villain to this iteration of Spidey movies. But, what sort of an introduction would that be? Smushing (an as-yet-uncast) Norman Osborn and a fake Iron Man plot into Peter's European vacation might do the character a disservice, or threaten to distract from Mysterio. It's a good idea, but it might just be a pitch for a different movie, not a prediction of what's going to happen in this one.
SCARLET WITCH WILL INTRODUCE THE X-MEN TO MCU (ON DISNEY+)
The Scarlet Witch and Vision Disney+ series, which I still cannot believe is actually called WandaVision, is rumored to be set in the '50s. How, exactly, this will happen is a mystery, assuming the rumor is true. Maybe Vision will be brought back to life and he and Wanda will flee to the past for a simpler life using the time machine they invented in Avengers: Endgame. This fan theory posits that Scarlet Witch will use her powers in the '50s, and the power will be so immense that it will be responsible for the creation of the Mutant gene.
This could give Marvel a way to introduce Mutants and the X-Men in the present day, now that Disney has subsumed Fox into its empire and owns the rights to the film characters again.
As with the Far From Home theory, this is an interesting idea. Scarlet Witch is originally a Mutant in the comics, as she and Quicksilver are Magneto's children. This isn't the case in the films, obviously, but Scarlet Witch has always had strong connections to the X-Men. In a famous comic storyline, House of M, a disturbed Scarlet Witch is responsible for eliminating almost every Mutant when she utters the words "No more Mutants." It would be fitting, in a way, if she's the cause of Mutants in the film universe.
Still, there are some problems. The most nitpicky one is that it would violate the rules of time travel as established in Endgame. Going to the past creates an alternate timeline that does not affect the main reality, so while Wanda and Vision could go back to the '50s, their actions would not introduce Mutants to the main MCU. (Of course, Captain America seemed to throw these rules out the window when he reappeared as an old man at the end of the film, so who the heck knows).
The bigger stumbling block for this theory, in my own opinion, is that it relies on a TV show altering the main canon of the Cinematic Universe. Granted, the Disney+ Marvel shows have movie stars, huge budgets, and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige will actually be overseeing the Disney+ shows, whereas previous Marvel series came from Marvel Television, under Jeph Loeb.
While Feige's presence and all the resources Marvel is putting into the show suggest it'll be a big deal, it still seems unlikely that Disney would make the MCU introduction of the X-Men — arguably Marvel's most popular franchise — dependent on moviegoers having seen a streaming TV show about two Avengers B-listers who traveled back in time.