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.
The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters tonight, so we're gonna hold off on any Episode IX fan theories, though a retrospective look at all the theories — good and especially bad — is probably merited soon. In the meantime, we’re gonna scratch that Star Wars itch by following up on a seeming debunking of a major Mandalorian theory, tackle an Avengers theory that actually seems quite credible but hopefully won’t ever come into play, and then finally we’ll make a doomed attempt to try to distinguish a joke from a fan theory.
BABY YODA IS NOT A CLONE
With only one episode left to go in The Mandalorian’s first season (Episode 7 hit Disney+ early to avoid competing with The Rise of Skywalker’s theatrical release), there’s still a lot we don’t know about Baby Yoda. The episode did appear to have debunked one of the leading fan theories — that the Child was a clone. The theory made waves a couple of weeks ago, when eagle-eyed fans noticed that Dr. Pershing has a patch on his uniform with an insignia that resembles one seen on Kamino, the planet from Episode II where the Clone Army was created. Might this mean he’s a clone of the real Yoda?
In Episode 7, however, the Ugnaught Kuill (RIP) says that Baby Yoda is not a product of genetic engineering or cloning, and that he can tell because of his days in forced servitude to the Imperials. Apparently, the lil guy is 100 percent natural. Now, this could still mean that Dr. Pershing and his bosses want Baby Yoda because they aim to clone him, but the Child’s origins are perhaps an even bigger mystery than they were before, even with this popular theory ruled out.
THANOS IS STILL ALIVE
Thanos died twice in Avengers: Endgame — once when Thor went for the head, and then again when a version of him from a past timeline attempted to invade Earth, only for Tony Stark to use the Infinity Gauntlet to turn him into dust. But, is turning into dust actually dying?
This theory suggests no, for a couple of reasons. Doctor Strange revealed that The Ancient One, and presumably Strange as well, can’t see the future after their deaths, and yet he was able to see Endgame’s future, meaning he saw after the point at which he’d been snapped away, possibly suggesting that is isn’t exactly death. Also, Bruce Banner demonstrated that while he was able to bring back people who have been dusted by the Infinity Stones, he wasn’t able to undo Black Widow’s death, suggesting her demise was of a different, more permanent sort.
This distinction is furthered by a quote from Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito in the Avengers: Endgame art book. "When someone dies, you cannot bring them back,” he said. "It's not like when Thanos snapped his fingers. You can reverse that."
So, this would indicate that Thanos is gone rather than dead. Where he and the rest of his dusted army is is a whole other question. This intriguing idea leaves open the possibility that he could return, but let’s hope that Marvel never resorts to that. Thanos was the bad guy looming in the background of a decade’s worth of films, and Endgame was his grand defeat. Even if he isn’t technically dead, his story should be considered over and done with for all intents and purposes.
DR. MARIO IS A THIRD MARIO BRO.
Daniel Kibblesmith is a writer who has written comic books for Marvel and is on the staff of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. He’s geeky and funny, and if you’re on Twitter, you might have seen his jokes (and if you're a listener of The Fandom Files, you've probably heard them, too). Earlier this week, he tweeted his belief that Doctor Mario is Mario’s brother, rather than just an alter-ego with an M.D.
“Mario is a surname,” he wrote, referencing the (partially confirmed) belief that the “Mario Bros.’” names are “Mario Mario” and “Luigi Mario.”
“Mario and Doctor Mario are two different playable characters in Smash,” he continued. “Therefore, Doctor Mario is not Mario dressed as a doctor, he is a third Mario brother (likely twin) who rejected the family business and went to Med School.”
Look, Kibblesmith’s logic is bulletproof here (although Link and Young Link are both in Smash but are the same person), it's just funny because the Mario series has not traditionally been rich in lore or consistent with its canon. Are Mario and Bowser enemies, or are they buddies who go-kart together and compete in the Olympics against Sonic the Hedgehog?
So, even though I fully support this “Dr. Mario is the third brother” conspiracy, it feels strange to see it framed as a straightforward “fan theory” in this aggregation. It just seems like a lot of credulous words spent on a funny, fewer than 240-character Tweet. Can we just let a joke be a joke instead of dissecting it, like I’m doing right now?