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 is all about the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, specifically the part at the very end where it sure looks like Rey has turned to the dark side. For this column, though, we're just going to touch on one Dark Rey theory that's not nearly as implausible as it ought to be. Then we'll touch on Dark Threepio, who hasn't been getting enough love. To wrap it up, we're gonna take a truly irresponsible post about Spider-Man, Sony, and Disney to task. Let's get crackalackin'.
DARK REY IS A CLONE
Remember how the second trailer for The Last Jedi made it seem like Rey might turn to the dark side? Like, when she says "I need someone to show me the way," and then the trailer cuts to Kylo Ren outstretching his hand? Well, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you, Disney. I won't be fooled again.
Despite the new Rise of Skywalker trailer ending with a shot that looks like a Sith-aligned Rey, it feels pretty unlikely that she's actually going to turn to the dark side. Perhaps it's a vision — something not unlike what Luke encountered in that cave in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Rey looks a little artificial, and her skin looks awfully nice for someone on the dark side, so this being a vision feels the most likely.
But what if she's a clone? This theory has been making the rounds, and although "Character X is a clone" is usually a really contrived theory, it kind of makes sense here. Star Wars has a history with cloning — there was that whole thing on Kamino in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, after all. More than that, though, there is precedent from the old Expanded Universe (now called Star Wars Legends, which are no longer canon), that make a cloned Rey a possibility.
In the early '90s comic series Dark Empire, Emperor Palpatine comes back to life six years after the Battle of Endor by cloning himself and using his Force powers to transfer his consciousness to a cloned body. In the original Thrawn Trilogy, it's revealed that Palpatine made a clone of a Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth, and the clone was named Joruus C'baoth. After Palpatine's death, the cloned Jedi master ordered the creation of a Luke Skywalker clone named Luuke Skywalker.
Sadly, Rey does not have a U in it, meaning this bizarre "extra U" naming convention couldn't be continued, but the idea of Palpatine being involved in cloning and making clones of powerful Force users isn't a new one. It's also possible that Rey — the main one that we've been following from the start — has been a clone herself the whole time, and Dark Rey is just another clone. Giving Rey this cloned backstory would have the added benefit of technically not undoing The Last Jedi's reveal that her parents were nobodies while also fulfilling J.J. Abrams' desire to make everything an interconnected puzzle box.
C-3PO'S RED EYES MEAN HE'S EVIL
Enough about Dark Rey, though. Let's talk about the potential heel turn of another Star Wars character, one who has been there since the very beginning and has always been a good guy. A quick shot in the Rise of Skywalker trailer shows C-3PO with red eyes. Was Threepio high on death sticks, or does this indicate that he's broken bad?
Perhaps not. One leading theory is that the red eyes are part of a new "battle mode," which makes a certain amount of sense, as an early poster for the movie showed the normally passive Threepio carrying Chewbacca's bowcaster.
Other theories suggest he's got red eyes because his programming has been taken over by the bad guys, which could happen. Less likely is the idea that he's turned evil because of some deep code that his creator, Anakin Skywalker, buried in him decades ago that has only just been activated by Palpatine's ghost or someone in the First Order. Star Wars already has plenty of blasters, so it doesn't need to turn C-3PO's hidden code into the galaxy's most pointless Chekhov's Gun.
SONY AND DISNEY ARE PLAYING THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHESS, IRRESPONSIBLE CONSPIRACY THEORY ALLEGES
Reporting on fan theories — reporting on all fiction, really — is an inherently weird form of journalism. Journalism should be about reporting on the truth, which doesn't quite exist in the same way when you're dealing with made-up characters in a made-up story, and especially not when the story is about speculative fan theories. But that's fine — there can and should be different standards for "reporting" on fiction, although good pop-culture journalism should still have some sort of standards, rather than just writing about any baseless theory in an attempt to get clicks.
The problem with this theory, though, is that it's not about fiction. It's suggesting that Sony and Disney — two real-life companies with shareholders and motivations that are much bigger and more expensive than who Spider-Man fights — have cooked up a "brilliant scheme." Allegedly, the whole fight over Spider-Man is actually just a ploy to bring him back to the MCU in five years to great fanfare.
This is not a fan theory, it's a conspiracy theory. It's not making a guess about why a robot may or may not be evil, but making baseless claims about the real world. It's misleading readers rather than informing them, which is, you know, not great journalism.