We’ve all heard them. We’ve all got them. We all love them.
You know, like just what was in Marsellus Wallace’s suitcase? Or how Pixar has the whole cinematic universe thing going on.
We are, of course, talking about film fan theories.
Here at WTM? we’ve scoured the internet high and low for all manner of movie hypothesising – from the mind-blowing, to the mad, to the downright macabre – and picked our favourites.
For some readers, these will enrich their viewing experience. For others, it will ruin the film entirely.
Needless to say, SPOILERS lie ahead!
The Theory: Right, so here’s what we know already: there were two killers in the first Scream; two in the second; one in the third; and two again in the fourth instalment. BUT, what we don’t know, is if there was actually another killer lurking in the shadows who was never unmasked. Well, word on the streets of Woodsboro from many a Scream fanatic is that there was – that person, in fact, being the true mastermind behind everything in the series. Who might this masked genius of death be we hear you ask? None other than loveable, goofy, Deputy Dewey as a matter of (non)fact.
The Evidence: Do the maths, and it pretty much checks out. Access to confidential police information; hands-on experience with deadly weapons; always close to the film’s ass-kicking protag.; the handy knack of always surviving each and every knife wound that comes his way. In Scream 2, during one of his many spats with Gale Weathers, he even states the following, “How do you know that my dimwitted inexperience isn’t merely a subtle form of manipulation, used to lower people’s expectations, thereby enhancing my ability to effectively manoeuvre within any given situation?”
To quote WTM?’s fave film geek Randy Meeks, “You’re telling me that’s not a killer?”
The Theory: Get Out was perhaps 2017’s biggest surprise package. Jordan Peele’s feature-length debut was a rousing success: an entertainingly chilling, pertinent examination of racism in America that snapped up Oscar gold at the 90th Academy Awards and, more importantly, topped WTM?’s favourite films of 2017 list. And, somewhat inevitably, fans have taken to the web in their masses to explain what they feel are the many hidden messages and theories that are buried deep in even the film’s most sunken of sunken places. One such hypothesis – and our favourite – suggests that while Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris might grab the heroic headlines, it is in fact housemaid Georgina who is the tale’s true tragic hero.
The Evidence: Think about it. The tears, the ‘No’s, the moving of phones. In contrast to the other fully subservient servant Walter, the real Georgina is still alive and kicking in her body somewhere, fighting away with her new inhabitant. What if everything she is seen doing is actually a warning to Chris. After all, why do you think that closet door was so conveniently ajar, and that box of photographs so conveniently placed for Chris to see during the film’s big final-third twist?
Harry Potter 1-8
The Theory: Sorry die-hard Pott-heads, this one gives the fantastical, whimsical world of witchcraft and wizardry a dose of the Avada Kedavra. In its a place, a vacuum of sobering, depressing reality. What if everything J.K. Rowling so impressively created was actually nothing more than a figment of Harry’s imagination?
The Evidence: Depressed after the murder of his parents, abused and neglected by his Uncle and Aunt, what if, contained within the four walls of his makeshift room under the stairs, the boy who lived simply conjured up an entire magical world in which he is the most important person, has a load of friends, and is the only one who can bring down a powerful, evil villain who also killed his parents? Little damning evidence, but this is a world where we’re supposed to believe in flying cars, dragons, and a school seemingly immune from any form of OFSTED inspection…
…Hey, hey! Don’t throw your goblets (of fire) at me, I’m just the messenger.
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
The Theory: It’s no secret that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are good pals. One made a sweet, charming, emotional film about a young boy and an alien who form a unique and touching bond in 1980’s America. The other made Jar-Jar Binks. But here’s where it gets all intergalactical. E.T is, in fact, a Jedi. Well, that is according to a large proportion of folk down here on earth anyway.
The Evidence: Remember the Halloween scene? Under that bedsheet with eye holes, our little otherworldly friend appears transfixed by a kid they pass dressed as Jedi master Yoda – you know, as if maybe they’ve met before. Further evidence of this can be found during the galactic senate in The Phantom Menace where the hawk-eyed viewers among us might notice a handful of E.Ts gathered in one of the senate room pods. Oh, and the fact he can make flowers grow and bikes fly…you know, as if he had some kind of…force!
The evidence certainly strong with this one. Good film theory, this is.
The Big Lebowski
The Theory: With good (or should that be ‘God’) reason, Jeff Bridges’ ‘The Dude’ from the Coen brothers’ 1998 cult classic has gone down in the celebrated annals of popular culture. Infectiously quotable dialogue, a generation of White Russian sippers, and even the founding of a religion known as ‘Dudeism’. But, there’s one big ‘IF’ that surrounds The Big Lebowski, and it has nothing to do with The Dude, or even bowling for that matter. Nope, this fan theory concerns The Dude’s fabulously foul-mouthed and unpredictable friend Walter (John Goodman), and Vietnam vet’s verbal punching bag throughout the movie – Steve Buscemi’s Donny. The argument here is that the character of Donny is actually only a figure of Walter’s imagination. More specifically, he’s a product of Walter’s PTSD and fractured psyche, and maybe even a friend of Walter’s who was tragically killed in ‘Nam, who now haunts his subconscious. That’s, like, f**king crazy, man!
The Evidence: Save for one or two moments, Walter appears to be the only one to acknowledge and interact with Donny (the infamous line “Shut the f**k up, Donny” constituting the majority of correspondence there). As for the few times when The Dude is seen to be interacting with Donny, the suggestion here is that His Dudeness is very much aware of Walter’s state of mind and is simply playing along in sympathy. Ah, but what about the scene with Donny’s ashes at the end we hear you all cry? Well, there’s no evidence to suggest these aren’t Donny’s ashes; but who’s to say Walter hasn’t had them in his possession this whole time and is finally allowing himself to let go by scattering them over a cliff?
The Theory: There’s actually two theories here (we couldn’t choose between them). One is a very out-there theory that gives everything we enjoy about the film – the traps that would’ve undoubtedly killed them in real life – a very dark twist indeed. The other is an absolute game changer.
The first claims that young Kevin grows up psychologically impacted by the events of the film, changes his name in a bid to distance himself from his past, and ultimately becomes the Jigsaw killer from the Saw films (just imagine…whoof!).
The second involves the role of the film’s more subtle villain in the form of Kevin’s snarly Uncle Frank. The theory here is that Frank was the orchestrator behind everything that happens to Kevin in Home Alone – from ensuring Kevin is left at home to employing the services of a couple of wet bandits.
The Evidence: The former has no concrete evidence to support, other than the increasing malicious nature of each trap (what ever happened to a good old filled bucket over the door?); but it’s a neat theory nevertheless.
As for the second, let’s break it down. Uncle Frank and Kevin never see eye to eye. Frank’s brother (Kevin’s dad) is much more successful, much wealthier and, we can imagine, has a much nicer home filled with lots of expensive things. With sibling jealousy and nephew-hatred his motives, Frank deploys Harry and Marv to kill two birds with one stone – raid his brother of his wealth, and kill Kevin in the process.
Ok, so while there’s little conclusive evidence linking Frank to the crime, never is he really concerned for his young nephew’s welfare; and, during one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot (and the one supporters of this theory cling to) at the airport shows Frank’s wife, Leslie, claiming she has called up everyone in their address book with little success. In the background, however, Frank is seen on the phone to someone. If they’ve tried calling everyone they know, who could Frank possibly be speaking to…?
The Theory: Grease isn’t the all-singing, all-dancing, all hair-product romantic extravaganza we all think it is. No, no, according to some fans, death is the word here.
So, we can all agree that there’s a line in the song ‘Summer Nights’ that goes, ‘I saved her life – she nearly drowned’, in reference to the time Sandy and Danny first met, right? Ok, but here’s where things get much darker, because one theory argues that Sandy actually did drown that day at the beach and the entire film is simply her oxygen-deprived brain conjuring up a fantasy during her final moments where her and Danny spend a magical year in high school together. Talk about a suckerpunch…
The Evidence: Tell me more, tell me more – we hear you all cry. Of course, you can interpret this as you will, but the song lyrics, the increasingly outlandish moments, the near-perfect romance, and finally the flying car’s ascent into the clouds (and possibly heaven?) at the film’s end…
The Theory: Don’t worry, it’s not another one of those theories about how there was enough room on that floating door for both Rose and Jack (there definitely was). No, no, this is actually another double-whammy of a fan theory that manifests much, much earlier in the film. It’s cheating, yes, but both are interesting in very different ways.
Theory numero uno actually offers a reason as to why Jack couldn’t have possibly been saved even if there was enough room on that slab of wood. That’s because he never existed in the first place.
Yep, that’s right – the suggestion here is that Jack is simply a figment of Rose’s imagination; conjured up to, at first, distract her from her own misery, but ultimately represents the inner strength she finds within herself to finally break free.
Theory number two is far more out-to-sea; but the claim is that Jack is, in fact, a time traveller. A time traveller, yes; and one who must travel back to prevent Rose from throwing herself from the ship’s stern, which would likely cause Titanic to either turn back, or re-route, and thus changing the entire course of history. Jack simply couldn’t allow it.
The Evidence: For both theories, however outlandish, the evidence is actually pretty damning. For the first, is it more than a little coincidental that Jack shows up just as Rose is on the verge of suicide (and therefore saving her life). He also just happens to be the exact opposite to her insufferable fiancé Carl in almost every way – sympathetic, charming, creative, and unmaterialistic. He’s also the reason she is able to ‘fly’ in the film’s most famous scene. Doesn’t it also seem interesting that the film’s modern-day explorers inform a 101-year old Rose that there was never any record of Jack being anywhere on the Titanic?
The second, according to theory supporters and avid historians alike, can be explained by the fact that, again, there is no record of Jack aboard the titular ship; but also that he is seen sporting a backpack and haircut that by all accounts wouldn’t have been fashionable at the time, not becoming popular until years later. Similarly, Jack anecdotally mentions to Rose about his ice-fishing trips to Lake Wissota and riding the rollercoaster at Santa Monica Pier. The former – a man-made lake in Wisconsin – wasn’t built until 1917 (five years after Titanic sank). The latter didn’t have a rollercoaster on there in 1912.
Tut, tut, casual slips of the tongue there, Mr Dawson.
The Theory: Ok, so things get pretty dark herein. One of the overriding questions asked of the classic Peter Pan story is just why he never grows old. Well, what if Pan is actually an angel, and where he takes Wendy, John and Michael isn’t Neverland as we know it, but actually heaven?
The Evidence: Taking them from their beds? The ability to fly? Never growing old? Lost boys? What if they were all dead and Neverland an allegory for the afterlife? Sure, it’s dark as hell, but it kinda makes sense.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy
The Theory: Someone call Jezza Kyle for a DNA test on this one. Part of what makes Bruce Wayne Batman is his unfaltering dedication to keep the good name of his dead father, and the legacy he left, alive and kicking. But, what if his father – we mean his real father – never met his maker at the hands of an alleyway bullet, but had actually been there under his Bat-nose the entire time? Well, that’s exactly what one theory suggests. What if loyal, long-time butler Alfred is actually Bruce’s biological father?
The Evidence: Ok, so there’s nothing solid to back up this one, other than being an explanation behind Alfred’s unwavering loyalty to Bruce. It’s an interesting thought though: that while Mr Wayne spent his days over at Wayne tower, Mrs Wayne was off doing all manner of cosplay with everyone’s favourite cockney butler. It gives a further layer to Bruce and Alfred’s relationship, adds another sting to the pain Alfred feels watching Bruce delve further and further into obsession, and makes even more heart-breaking their farewell exchange in The Dark Knight Rises.
The Theory: There’s a lot to get your head around in Chris Nolan’s exceptional mind-bending sci-fi thriller Inception. But above all else, the thing that divides audiences more than anything is the final shot of Cobb’s spinning tractricoid top which cuts to black before we can know conclusively if he is dreaming or not. But, what if the real deception in Inception (nice) was that the dastard tractricoid we’ve been arguing over all these years was never actually Cobb’s totem? What if it was something else? Say (and many do) perhaps, his wedding ring?
The Evidence: We are told that Cobb’s tractricoid initially belonged to his dead wife, Mal; and so who’s to say that he keeps this with him to act only as a memory of her outside the dream world, and nothing more? As for the ring, despite shots of Cobb’s hands throughout the film being scarce (coincidence?), many argue that Cobb is seen wearing his wedding ring only when he is dreaming, but never when he is awake. In a film where the borders of dream and reality becomes increasingly difficult to identify, Cobb’s ring might just be the key to unpicking that very distinction, and yet another fascinating theory to throw into the Inception discussion pot.
Got a favourite film fan theory we haven’t mentioned? We’d love to hear it!