With the impending release of The Force Awakens, a lot of old Star Wars material is being revisited about the internet, including several fun conspiracy theories. I delayed writing this post too long, so you may have seen some of these by now, but here’s a roundup of my favorites.
Jar Jar Binks is a Dark Side Master
The one which has been shared most, I think, is the speculation that Jar Jar Binks was in fact supposed to be Yoda’s opposite number — apparently harmless, dismissed as silly, but actually a great master of the Force, this time of the Dark Side. When the character was handled so poorly and the fan outrage was so strong, the theory goes, George Lucas changed his mind and tried to minimize the damage.
I’m not going to recreate the entire theory here — this guy does a fantastic job and there’s no need to duplicate his effort, especially when he’s assembled video evidence all in one place — but whether or not it’s true, I’d like to believe there was maybe some well-meaning intention behind the character of Jar Jar, that maybe it was a poorly executed idea but not the utter ball-of-fail it appeared to be.
It’s worth watching his comparison videos, but if you want to skip to his conclusion, this is it:
Here’s George Lucas (from a documentary) talking about Yoda:
“Yoda really comes from a tradition in mythological storytelling- fairy tales- of the hero finding a little creature on the side of the road that seems very insignificant and not very important, but who turns out to be the master wizard, or the master thing…”
As we all know, one of Lucas’ big deals with the prequels was that they were intended to “rhyme” and mirror the original trilogy in terms of general narrative themes. So there should have been a seemingly innocent creature found on the side of the road that later reveals itself as a major player. We do have a creature that this seems to describe precisely… Jar Jar… but of course he never develops into a “master” anything.
Here’s what I think happened: I think that Jar Jar was initially intended to be the prequel (and Dark Side) equivalent of Yoda. Just as Yoda has his “big reveal” when we learn that his tottering, geriatric goofball persona is just a mask, Jar Jar was intended to have a big reveal in Episode II or III where we learn that he’s not really a naive dope, but rather a master puppeteer Sith in league with (or perhaps in charge of) Palpatine.
However, GL chickened out. The fan reaction to Jar Jar was so vitriolic that this aspect of the trilogy was abandoned. Just too risky… if Jar Jar is truly that off-putting, it’s potentially ruinous to the Star Wars legacy to imply that he’s the ultimate bad guy of the entire saga. So pretend he was just a failed attempt at comic relief instead.
This is why Dooku seems like such a flat, shoehorned-in character with no backstory; he was hastily written in to cover the plot holes left when villain Jar Jar was redacted. Yoda was meant to duel with his literal darkside nemesis and mythological equivalent at the end of AotC: not boring old Count Dooku, but Sith Master Jar Jar.
It’s hard to say if there’s anything really to this, but like many Star Wars fans who felt burned by the prequels, I will grasp at straws to make sense of the disrupted universe.
UPDATE: I’m still not convinced that it’s not a desperate stretch to make the prequels more tolerable, but it seems there may actually be some credible evidence to support this idea. First there was an old ask-me-anything by actor Ahmed Best which suggested the character of Jar Jar underwent significant changes in rewrites after The Phantom Menace. Okay, that could mean anything, including, as he said, “I think George wanted to give the fans what they wanted. That meant more lightsabers and less Gungans.”
But this tweet also by Ahmed Best, showing up just when the Jar Jar-as-Sith theory was most in discussion, is a bit more compelling:
I will say this, it feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen. No matter how long it takes. #TPM
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) November 2, 2015
This actually pleases me, on a tiny level. If this theory is true, it means that there was merely terrible execution, instead of both terrible concept and terrible execution. It brings a little bit of peace.
Luke Skywalker Actually Turned to the Dark Side
But here’s the fan theory which intrigues me most from a characterization standpoint: that Luke Skywalker actually surrendered to the Dark Side at the end of Return of the Jedi, and no one has noticed yet.
My first reaction was, “What? No. That’s contrary to the whole series plot.” But then I hesitated, because it does answer some lingering questions I’ve always had in the back of my head.
Even as a child watching the Star Wars trilogy, I felt that undermining Yoda was a bit cheap. Yoda, the wisest and oldest and most experienced, warns clearly that if Luke cuts short his training, he will fall to the Dark Side. Yoda’s not just whistling into the wind, as he has seen this before, and with Luke’s own father. And Yoda is consistently represented as on point about things, when he’s not pretending to be ignorant and harmless.
But then Luke cuts short his training, and he ignores Yoda, and yet he resists temptation and saves his dad and his friends all at once. Yoda was wrong. And even as a kid I assumed, that’s supposed to be Luke just being awesome and not being his father, okay, sure, that’s what happens when you’re the hero. Luke had to win, so Yoda erred.
But what if Yoda was right?
Check out this explanation of the theory. I’m not convinced, but it’s intriguing and certainly adds some nice complexities to story potential.
And it explains another narrative point which has always bugged me: Emperor Palpatine taunts and emotionally tortures Luke to push him into attacking, claiming it will cement Luke’s conversion to the Dark Side. And then Luke finally snaps and attacks Palpatine, and Palpatine laughs smugly. And then Luke is somehow still on the good guy side of the Force.
And that has interesting plot possibilities for Luke’s interaction with Mara Jade (back when the Extended Universe was still canon), who plays on both teams, Empire and Rebel.
The Death Star was an Inside Job
Here’s a stylized 9/11-style expose about the destruction of the Death Star. This is not so much a fan theory as just having fun with the concept of conspiracy theories in general. The video is listed as “An examination of some questionable events and circumstances leading up to the destruction of the Death Star, through the eyes of an amateur investigative journalist within the Star Wars galaxy.”
These are serious questions, people. Wake up!
What do you guys think about the above ideas? What other ideas do you have to share?
Also published on Medium.