10 Intriguing Fan Theories About ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens is arguably the most hotly anticipated film of recent years, prompting fans to pen thousands of words speculating what surprises await. The movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, actually encourages it: “I’m always interested in seeing people’s theories. What’ll be cool [is] when people finally see the movie and see what it really is. Hopefully some people will say, ‘I was right!’ Other people will be like, ‘Ah-rah!’ You want people to be debating things even before the movie comes out.”
Be warned, some of the theories posted below might be considered possible spoilers. Or they might all be completely wrong. Read on and find out.
10Rey Is A Legendary Character’s Kid
From the trailers, it’s clear that the three main characters of The Force Awakens are Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). During a panel discussion, Ridley revealed that her character was a scavenger living in a ship graveyard on the planet Jakku. In one trailer, Rey is shown first driving a speeder toward, then climbing within a crashed Star Destroyer. Ridley said that her character’s adventures begin when she meets another protagonist. Most fans theorize that this person is Finn.
At the same panel discussion, Boyega revealed that Finn is a member of the First Order, this movie’s version of the Stormtroopers. From the trailers, these soldiers appear to serve antagonists Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma, and Supreme Leader Snoke. Boyega would only say that his part of the adventure begins when his character is in extreme peril that “launches him into the Star Wars universe in a unique way.”
Isaac was even more tight-lipped, saying only that Poe Dameron was “the best fricken pilot in the galaxy.” He added that his character enters the story during a mission authorized by a “certain princess.” We can assume he means Princess (now General) Leia.
With so little to go on, fans have tried to fill in the gaps. Rey, for instance, has not been given a last name by the filmmakers (nor, for that matter, has Finn). Abrams said “that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record.” As a result, fans have speculated Rey might be a Skywalker, Solo, or even Kenobi.
A possible clue might involve a Japanese television interview with Ridley and producer Kathleen Kennedy. Asked about her character, Ridley said: “I’m not sure how much I can say. I guess because I’ve said that I’m solitary, and that’s how I begin, that is probably a big clue as to what it is.” She and Kennedy then laughed nervously. Fans immediately jumped on the fact that “solitary” sounds quite like Solo. Some have even claimed that Ridley pronounced “solitary” as “Solo-tary.” That may or may not be the case, but speculation that Rey might be Han and Leia’s daughter is currently at fever pitch.
Another theory suggests that Rey is Obi Wan Kenobi’s descendant, although there’s little evidence to support that. The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the Battle of Endor, by which time Obi Wan was already dead. It’s unlikely the 23-year-old Ridley would play someone over 30, so if she is related to Kenobi, she would have to be at least his granddaughter.
9Finn Or Kylo Ren Is Luke’s Child
As well as Han and Leia, it’s confirmed that Mark Hamill will return as Luke Skywalker, leading to speculation that he might also have some kids running around the galaxy by now. The theory was reinforced by the second trailer, released last spring. In the trailer, Mark Hamill says in a voiceover that “the Force is strong in my family.” He declares his father has the “power” as did he and his sister (Leia). Finally, he declared, “you have that power too.” The most likely explanation is that he’s talking to either his or Leia’s child.
As has already been noted, Finn was also not given a surname, even though nearly every other character has one. Interestingly, he is also shown wielding Luke’s old lightsaber against Kylo Ren in one of the trailers. Concept art also shows Finn carrying Luke’s lightsaber on his belt, as if that’s something he does all the time. Was this given to him by his father?
Other fans insist that the villainous Kylo Ren is Luke’s son. Director J.J. Abrams has revealed that Kylo Ren was not the character’s name at birth. Ren is obsessed with Darth Vader, modeling his own mask after Vader’s melted helmet. Abrams said that the similarity between Ren’s mask and Vader’s helmet “is very much a part of the story of the film.” Is Ren obsessed with his grandpa?
8Darth Vader Is Alive
It’s pretty clear that Anakin Skywalker is dead, given that his ghost shows up at the end of the original trilogy. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been cloned. Adherents of this theory point to the fact that clones are already an established plot point in the Star Wars universe. It’s also established that clones don’t neccesarily look and act in exactly the same way. So it’s possible that Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, might be Darth Vader’s clone.
In support of the theory, fans point to Mark Hamill’s previously mentioned voiceover in one of the trailers: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it, I have it, my sister has it. You have that power, too.” Hamill later admitted that he had difficulty with the line because he kept saying “had” and the producers insisted he rerecord it with “has.” That seems significant.
In fairness, it’s worth noting that the first three sentences of that voiceover are a direct quote from Return Of The Jedi, so perhaps the producers just wanted to keep the quote exactly as it was. But the theory has been fed by a rumor (and it’s only a rumor) that Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin Skywalker in the last two prequels, has been tapped to appear in the sequel, Star Wars VIII. But even if that’s true, he could just be appearing as a Force ghost again.
Plus, the obvious question is whether we really need Darth Vader to return. The rise and fall of Anakin was a key arc of six whole movies. Is there anything left to say about Vader?
7Boba Fett Returns In Some Way
During one trailer, a character is briefly seen sporting armor, a cape, and carrying a blaster. That’s strikingly similar to the look famously rocked by Boba Fett. The bounty hunter was apparently eaten by the Sarlaac in Return Of The Jedi. Did the Sarlaac spit him out? Or did he have a kid? Or maybe we all want Boba to return so badly we’re reading too much into a split-second shot.
Supporters of the Boba’s Back theory point to the fact that the new movie is co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, who penned Boba’s first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. Kasdan has admitted that he’s a big fan of Fett and it’s been suggested that he might write the script for a stand-alone movie about the bounty hunter.
Meanwhile, sharp-eyed fans have noticed that another trailer includes two banners bearing symbols that were worn on Fett’s armor. (They’re in the background of the shot where Han, Rey, and Finn are walking into a building at 1:38 here.) An Easter egg or a hint? A spread for Vanity Fair features alien criminals, including a character wearing a helmet reminiscent of Fett’s.
But opponents of the theory point out that the character in the cape is a villain known as Captain Phasma, apparently an officer in the First Order. Game Of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie is billed as playing Phasma. Presumably Christie isn’t playing an elderly man, but maybe she’s Fett’s daughter?
6Jar Jar Binks Is The Evil Supreme Leader Snoke
Fans have long enjoyed speculating that Jar Jar Binks, perhaps the most hated character in the franchise, was actually a sinister co-conspirator of Emperor Palpatine. Reddit user Lumpawarroo penned a hugely popular post arguing that Binks’ pathetic oafishness hid an athletic ability that rivaled the Jedi. This fan compared Binks’ antics to Zui Quan or Drunken Fist wushu, even providing gifs showing how similar Jar Jar’s moves are to the martial art.
To support the theory, Lumpawarroo points out that Jar Jar and Palpatine are both natives of Naboo and that Binks was instrumental in Palpatine’s election as chancellor. The post also suggests that Jar Jar’s evil side was to be revealed in the final two prequels, but George Lucas “chickened out” after the intense vitriol leveled at Jar Jar’s appearance in The Phantom Menace. Perhaps Disney now intends to resurrect that notion and reintroduce Binks as Supreme Leader Snoke.
It’s easy to snort and disregard this theory, but descriptions of Snoke are disturbingly similar to an evil Jar Jar: “The concept art reportedly shows Snoke to be a reptilian alien and his head is said to be shaped like that of a cobra. The character is said to have pitch black eyes and a closed ‘bulbous’ mouth. He is said to have an angry sneer about him.”
5Darth Vader’s Relics Are Central To The Plot
In two different trailers, we see Anakin Skywalker’s old lightsaber, which was given to his son Luke in A New Hope and lost during the epic father/son duel in The Empire Strikes Back. We know that Finn has the lightsaber when he duels Kylo Ren. This suggests that the lightsaber is extremely important to the plot. But how was it found? How did Finn get hold of it?
One theory is built around a rumor that the movie opens with either Luke’s severed hand holding his lightsaber or just the lightsaber floating in space. The theory goes that the lightsaber falls onto Jakku, Rey’s home planet. Rey finds it and, together with Finn, spends the rest of the film trying to return it to Luke.
In the third and final trailer, Darth Vader’s melted helmet is shown with Kylo Ren speaking to it: “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.” This suggests that Vader is revered by Ren and his dark forces. If that’s the case, Vader’s old lightsaber would be an heirloom Ren might try to take from Rey and Finn.
4Poe Dameron’s Torture Changes Finn’s Life
Based on the trailers and behind-the-scenes footage released at Comic-Con, one theory holds that Poe Dameron plays a key role in the beginning of Finn’s story. First, a brief image in one trailer shows Poe Dameron being tortured by someone—presumably Kylo Ren—using the Force. And a shot in the Comic-Con footage depicts a First Order stormtrooper marching Poe Dameron through what looks like a detention center. Dameron’s hands are tied and he’s wearing a brown leather jacket with red on the shoulders.
In other footage, Finn is shown standing in a desert (presumably on the planet Jakku) wearing his First Order uniform and holding Poe’s jacket. Was Finn the one who escorted Poe to his torture? Further scenes depict Finn wearing the jacket, presumably to replace his uniform (he’s also wearing it in concept art). But how did he get the jacket?
In one trailer, Finn pulls off his helmet and is visibly horrified by something he sees. Perhaps it’s a tortured Poe, prompting Finn to abandon the First Order. Finn then helps Poe hobble to a TIE fighter—one shot shows a TIE fighter lifting off from a hangar, firing at nearby TIE fighters. That same TIE is shown damaged and crashing on Jakku. Were Finn and Poe inside it?
3Luke Skywalker Is Evil
In all the trailers and footage released, there hasn’t been a glimpse of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. He isn’t even among the action figures released thus far. One intriguing theory is that he does appear—behind the mask of Kylo Ren. A close look at the movie poster featuring Ren holding his crossguard lightsaber reveals his right hand looks suspiciously like Luke’s mechanical hand.
One blogger argues that Skywalker turned to the dark side at the end of Return Of The Jedi. There was even an early script that ends with Luke smoldering with frustration and anger that he’d failed to save his father. Anger, as Yoda repeatedly insists, can be a path to the dark side. That version was rejected by George Lucas and replaced with a more upbeat ending.
Now, the problem with this theory is that Adam Driver is billed as playing Kylo Ren. And the voice and physique of the Ren seen in the trailers certainly seem to belong to Driver. But it wouldn’t be the first time that director J.J. Abrams has used misdirection to hide characters in his movies. For example, he repeatedly denied that Benedict Cumberbatch would play Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Abrams did say that he was drawn to the project by the theme “Who is Luke Skywalker?” In a weird coincidence, a 2005 episode of Dinner For Five featuring Hamill and Abrams included Hamill discussing the idea that Luke might become a villain.
Another theory tries to reconcile the concept of an evil Luke with the fact that Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren by positing that Luke is actually Ren’s Sith master.
2There Will Be Two Superweapons
The movie’s main poster features a ball-like space station resembling an updated Death Star. Oddly, the image doesn’t appear to line up with what we know of the First Order’s superweapon. At last summer’s Comic-Con, Domhill Gleason (General Hux) revealed that the First Order’s HQ is called Starkiller Base, a nod to Luke’s original surname in the first draft of A New Hope. The Star Wars official website describes Starkiller Base as “an ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon capable of destroying entire star systems.” But the image on the poster has nothing to suggest an ice planet exterior.
Additionally, the trailers feature Kylo Ren and Finn walking and fighting on the ice planet’s surface, evidently without the need for a breathing apparatus. Yet the image in the poster doesn’t appear to have an atmosphere. So could this be another superweapon?
One rumor (again, it’s just a rumor) suggests that General Hux was originally a member of the resistance who defected to the First Order when the rebels, led by General Leia, developed their own superweapon. Could this be the mysterious Death Star–like craft depicted on the poster?
1A Main Character Will Not Survive
This is a theory that’s almost certainly true, although most of us probably wish it wasn’t. In one trailer, Rey is shown weeping over what appears to be a body. The shot is fairly unclear, but some fans claim to have seen hair and a bandolier, suggesting that Chewbacca goes to Wookie heaven. Others see a leather jacket, which could belong to Han Solo, Poe Dameron, or Finn.
At another point in the same trailer, Han Solo is seen comforting a devastated Princess Leia. Could they be weeping over Chewie’s demise? Harrison Ford famously said that he asked George Lucas to kill off Han during the original trilogy, but Lucas refused. Did Abrams give him his wish?
Lucas once said that his Star Wars movies had a kind of symmetry: “It’s like poetry, sort of. They rhyme.” And while Lucas will not have much to do with the new movies, his previous work will be the template. In the opening episode of each Lucas trilogy, a mentor is killed in combat. Will a familiar character follow Quin-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Force Awakens?
Steve is the author of 366 Days In Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency: The Private, Political, And Military Decisions Of America’s Greatest President and his work has appeared in KnowledgeNuts and Gizmodo.