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 some updates on a Joker theory that was making the rounds before the film officially opened; an Endgame theory that takes some of the wonder out of Iron Man, imho; and a Star Wars theory that doesn’t check out. Never forget that there are far more fan theories than there are correct fan theories, y’all.
JOKER’S JOKER ISN’T THE JOKER (UNLESS THERE’S A TIME SKIP AND HE IS)
A couple of weeks ago, there was a theory that Joaquin Phoenix does not play the arch-supervillain we all know and love, The Joker, in the movie Joker. Because Bruce Wayne is just a child when Joker takes place, the timelines don’t exactly add up, so based on that discrepancy, the theory posits that Phoenix’s Joker-like character will inspire the “real” Joker, and that Joker will do battle with the Dark Knight.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Joker director Todd Philips seemed to give this theory some credence. “Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker. You don’t really know,” Philips said. “His last line in the movie is, ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.”
Joker made so much money in its opening weekend that it seems almost a given that they’re going to make a sequel, so perhaps we’ll soon find out how the once-standalone reimagining fits into any larger Batman continuity. However, there’s another theory that argues that Joker’s Joker is the Joker.
“When Arthur was talking to the psychiatrist at the end and he said ‘I just thought of something funny… but you wouldn’t get it,’ then a flashback to Bruce Wayne on the crime alley with his parents dead in the ground and I found it weird why would Arthur find this funny,” the theorist writes.
“What if that ending scene takes place in the future where Batman already exists and got the Joker put in Arkham but somewhere before that (or while inside Arkham) Arthur discovered that Batman is Bruce Wayne and realizes he created Batman the day he became the Joker hence why he finds it funny?”
It’s possible, sure, though your mileage may vary on whether or not Arthur looks old enough for Bruce Wayne to have grown old enough to be acting as Batman. Ultimately, though, theories that try to connect Joker to Batman are going to be somewhat fruitless, because the whole point of the reimagining was to tell a standalone Joker story. Linking that to Batman might be looking for something that intentionally wasn’t there.
TONY STARK COULD WIELD THE INFINITY GAUNTLET BECAUSE OF HIS ARC REACTOR
Apparently, some Marvel fans were able to see through their tears when Tony Stark sacrificed himself at the end of Endgame, and what they saw was a plot hole. How was Tony able to wield the Infinity Gauntlet, when even just touching the Power Stone alone would kill most mortals and the Hulk was barely able to withstand the might of all the Infinity Stones?
This theory finds a "solution" in a line from the first Iron Man, where Tony Stark notes that the arc reactor he built in a cave (with a box of scraps) could power “something big for 15 minutes.” Perhaps, this theory argues, it was the power of Tony’s arc reactor that allowed him to wield the Infinity Gauntlet.
This theory doesn’t really hold up if you want to look at the specifics. The "something big" Tony’s first arc reactor would power was his janky, cave-built Mark I Armor — not a reality-altering gauntlet of cosmic gems. While Tony’s tech got more advanced as the series progressed and he no-doubt built stronger arc reactors, this line from the first movie isn’t really a relevant hint. Also, the theory ignores that Tony had the advantage of his custom-built gauntlet (which the Hulk was able to use without an arc reactor, so that wasn’t a factor) and that he, you know, died after The Snap. He suffered some consequences, for sure.
But, the bigger problem with this theory is that it goes against one of the big themes of Tony Stark’s whole saga — that he’s more than just his technology. If you chalk up Tony’s usage of the Infinity Gauntlet to just being some really good Iron Man tech in action, you’re robbing him of his strength of character. And, when one of the magical MacGuffins in question is literally called the “Soul Stone,” we’re already working in a universe where these intangible aspects have power. There’s no need to chalk everything up to a sweet battery.
OBI-WAN KENOBI IS THE MOST POWERFUL JEDI
This theory comes from a long Reddit post that argues that Obi-Wan, not Anakin, Luke, Yoda, or anyone else, was the strongest Jedi — and that both Yoda and Palpatine knew it. This could have some implications for Rise of Skywalker, should one of the theories about Rey being Obi-Wan’s descendant pan out, but this theory itself is pretty circumspect.
Among the arguments for why Obi-Wan is the strongest is that he’s the only Jedi who never failed at a Jedi Mind Trick in all the movies. The problem there is that it’s just going off of what we see in the movies, as are arguments that Obi-Wan’s winning records in on-screen duels also prove he’s the strongest. None of it is that clear cut — the movies are just showing more of Obi-Wan’s strengths because he’s a more important character to the plot. Other aspects of the theory rely on some pretty big jumps to conclusions, like arguing that Palpatine sent more Clone Troopers after Obi-Wan than after Yoda, or that Yoda didn’t send Obi-Wan to fight Palpatine because he was too stubborn to believe that Obi-Wan, a student, could be more powerful than him, a master. That… doesn’t really sound like the Yoda we all know.
It’s fun to debate power levels, but these things tend to be subjective. Obi-Wan is a wildly powerful Jedi, but the argument that he’s the strongest isn’t nearly as air-tight as the theory seems to think.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.