The best Star Wars stories aren't the ones you'll find in the movies. The best Star Wars stories are the ones that go far beyond the movies and live in the hearts and minds of fans — like the one about Ewoks eating people or the one where the prequels were just manifestations of George Lucas's hubris.
Like any good cultural touchstone, Stars Wars is the subject of myriad conspiracy theories that fans have created after watching, loving, and studying the films over and over again. They're created for fans by other fans who share that deep fondness for this franchise and its characters. And sometimes they're just too good to not be true. Here are seven of the best.
1) The only reason Han Solo is still alive is for merchandising purposes
Harrison Ford doesn't believe that Han Solo — the character he played in the original trilogy and will reprise in The Force Awakens — should be alive and kicking in the new film. Back in 2010, Ford told ABC news that the powers that be should have killed off Han by the end of Return of the Jedi:
"As a character he was — he was not so interesting to me," he told ABC News. "I thought he should have died in the last one to give it some bottom."
Ford went on to suggest that keeping Solo alive was purely a marketing ploy:
"George didn't think there was any future in Dead Han toys."
2) J.J. Abrams directed the new Star Trek films to get closer to Star Wars. Now Star Trek will be terrible.
J.J. Abrams is a Star Wars superfan, and before he signed on to direct The Force Awakens, he masterfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise. He was so good at his job that there's almost a clinical air to 2009's Star Trek and 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness — every detail and every lens flare is so meticulously constructed that the films aren't so much Star Trek movies as they are instructional or academic models for how to produce space action movies and reboots. Which is why some people view them as Abrams auditioning for Star Wars.
When it was announced that Abrams would be giving up his directorship of the upcoming Star Trek Beyond to take a stab at The Force Awakens, he told PBS that the idea of him jumping ship for something he liked better was preposterous. However, he also admitted to not always loving Star Trek:
That’s crazy. I would say this: As someone who has become a late-in-life Trekkie, I really think there’s room for both these things. It’s funny because Star Trek in some ways informs Star Wars.
Believability: 7/10 based on the pure WTF-ness of the Star Trek trailer.
3) George Lucas created the special editions and prequels to prove to his ex-wife that he was the real genius behind Star Wars, not her
Marcia Lucas saved Star Wars. Back before it became the juggernaut of a franchise it is today, the original film was a bloated mess, swollen in all the wrong places and lacking in all the right ones. But Lucas, George's now ex-wife (they were married while she edited Star Wars), was a brilliant editor who gave the movie some of its most memorable moments. Case in point: Marcia Lucas came up with the idea to kill Obi-Wan. George told Rolling Stone:
Anyway, I was rewriting, I was struggling with that plot problem when my wife suggested that I kill off Ben, which she thought was a pretty outrageous idea, and I said, "Well, that is an interesting idea, and I had been thinking about it."
That Marcia doesn't get enough credit for this plot point is a travesty on its own. But the conspiracy theory here is that after they divorced, George was bitter and resented the fact that his masterpiece was more her vision than his. This is why there are special editions of the first film that have cut out some of the scenes she edited, and why its story structure was changed. George's bitterness is also a possible explanation for why the prequels are bad movies: He created stuff that went against his wife's aesthetics and storytelling.
Believability: 6/10. The prequels were pretty terrible, and this is as good as any explanation of why they were so terrible, but it seems a little too mean and poetic to be completely real.
4) Jar Jar Binks knows how to use the Force
There is an extensive fan theory that Jar Jar Binks — the fantastic idiot of a character who was introduced in the first prequel and is universally reviled by fans — is actually in tune with the Force. The reason? His luck, his acrobatics, his fighting style, and his hand motions might indicate there's more to Jar Jar than meets the eye.
Believability: 2/10. While this idea is super entertaining and well-researched, it gives those terrible prequels too much credit in suggesting they're much more clever than they are.
5) The blasters are purposely bad weapons
The world of Star Wars is full of technological advances that blow the mind. The spacecraft are far more advanced than anything we have. Their submarines are pretty nifty. Their robots are amazing. So why are the blasters so crappy?
Blaster shots should be able to take advantage of lasers traveling at the speed of light. But they travel slow — slower than bullets— and they are easily deflected. And just like lightsabers, they cauterize wounds — something that seems counterintuitive if you want a weapon that will kill your enemy. There is no explanation as to why the blaster is so technologically superior to a traditional gun but somehow less powerful.
But what if blasters were purposely made to not be killing machines? The fan theory is that bullets — which are superior at killing people — were outlawed, possibly by the Galactic Senate. Maybe there was some giant war, and both sides suffered massive casualties, and the Senate decided to never let that happen again. Perhaps Star Wars implemented gun control.
Believability: 2/10. This is a fascinating theory, but as fans will tell you, there is a weapon called a "slugthrower" in the prequels that functions like a gun and shoots bullets.
6) E.T. and Star Wars take place in a shared universe
During a scene in E.T. where everyone is dressed up for Halloween, E.T. encounters a child in a Yoda costume and recognizes him. There's also a scene in the first Star Wars film where E.T.'s relatives appear in the Senate:
This has led fans to believe that E.T. and the Star Wars films take place in a shared universe.
Believability: 3/10. These are good Easter eggs, but the theory doesn't hold up. The "Yoda" that E.T. recognizes is a child in costume, signaling that Star Wars and the characters that appear in it exist as a work of fiction in the E.T. universe.
7) Ewoks eat people
When the Ewoks are first introduced in Return of the Jedi, they are trying to offer up Luke and Han to C3PO as a human sacrifice. But C3PO lets his friends go, and then everyone kinda forgets that these cute koala-ish beings were totally going to sacrifice them.
Then, at the end of the movie, the Ewoks are going crazy because they're so happy. This is not because they care about evil, or the Force, or whatever. They're happy because they will be able to eat more people. Just look at the "instruments" they're playing:
Are those bones? Those might be bones. And the drums the Ewoks are playpling are Stormtrooper helmets. Where are the Stormtroopers those helmets belong to?
Believability: 10/10. The Ewoks are definitely a human-eating species. That they live on a sanctuary moon is baffling and a testament to how much cuteness mitigates bloodthirsty violence.