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, we've got another one of those Marvel theories that's a total shot in the dark, a Rise of Skywalker theory connecting Rey and Emperor Palpatine, and a theory about HBO's Watchmen. First, though, a note about Watchmen. There are a ton of Watchmen fan theories out there, which makes sense since it's a Damon Lindelof show. I'm not going to cover many of them in this column, though, because I've seen advance screeners of the first six episodes. So, rather than pretend that I don't know for sure whether a theory is correct or not, I'll abstain.
Having said that... just be aware that there are many other sites that are writing posts full of "spoilers" that have been repackaged as "fan theories." Seems kinda shady, imho.
KANG THE CONQUEROR WILL BE THE MCU'S NEXT BIG BAD
Nobody except Kevin Feige and his pals really know what's next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that hasn't stopped fans from trying to guess. One theory posits that the next Thanos-esque villain will be Kang the Conqueror, an evil descendant of Mr. Fantastic from a future alternate timeline who travels back in time.
In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark warns that if "you mess with time, it tends to mess back." Could, as this theory posits, Kang the Conqueror be time messing back? Kang is a Fantastic Four villain, meaning that Disney-owned Marvel now has the film rights to the character following the Fox acquisition. Could it happen?
Well, sure. It could happen, but it's less of a theory and more of a wild guess. Is there value in aggregating a wild guess and framing it as though the wild guess "reveals" the future villain of the MCU? Not especially, I'd argue, especially when the aggregation, uh, spells the villain's name wrong.
DARK REY IS EMPEROR PALPATINE
Star Wars fans have many questions going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, including "How is Emperor Palpatine back?" and "What's the deal with Dark Rey from the second trailer?" This fan theory argues that the answers are connected. Could Emperor Palpatine be Dark Rey, perhaps having transferred his consciousness into a cloned version of Rey? The idea of a cloned Rey isn't too crazy, and in the (now non-canonical) comics Palpatine was able to transfer his consciousness, so this isn't totally implausible. The main evidence, though, comes from the brief glimpse of (presumably) Palpatine in his floating throne, where we only see the back of his cloaked head.
"The cloak is the same. If you look at the hood at the shoulders, the folds are identical," the theorist wrote on Reddit, noting a similarity to Dark Rey's hood from the second trailer. "The top of the hood drapes in the same fashion as well. Dark Rey is on that moving throne."
It's likely that this theorist is reading way too much into a hooded cloak looking like another hooded cloak. Characters in Star Wars wear the same types of robes all the time, and matching folds are more likely a coincidence than evidence that the two wearers are the same person. Also, we've heard Ian McDiarmid's voiceovers as Palpatine in the trailers, which seems to imply he'll have a speaking role in the film. Would that mean that McDiarmid is dubbing over Daisy Ridley's voice? That would be, uh, wild. Chances are this theory is wrong, but it's coming from an earnest place at least.
CHIEF CRAWFORD WAS BEHIND THE WHITE NIGHT IN WATCHMEN
The second episode of Watchmen flashed back to the events of the White Night, a targeted attack on Tulsa police officers at their homes on Christmas eve. Angela Abar and Chief Judd Crawford were two of the few survivors, but this theory (which I do not know the veracity of due to the screeners I've seen) posits that Crawford was somehow responsible for the attack.
After taking out the first invader, Angela gets shot by a second masked gunman, and she's facing the barrel of a shotgun as she loses consciousness. When she wakes up, she's in the hospital with Crawford explaining what happened — with no mention of the second attacker. The way the scene is edited noticeably cuts directly from the attacker to Crawford, perhaps signaling a connection between the two.
Why would Crawford do this? One theory suggests the White Night was a false flag operation to prompt the Tulsa police into getting masks and more militant in their fight against the 7th Kavalry. Or, perhaps Crawford — who does have a secret compartment in his closet with a Klu Klux Klan robe — was always on the 7th Kavalry's side. There's certainly more to the White Night than the official story lets on, and given the revelations about Crawford, it wouldn't be too shocking if he was somehow complicit.