If you have no idea why anyone would think Jar Jar Binks is the most devious Sith lord in the Star Wars canon, then do wesa have a surprise for you.
A little more than a month ago, Reddit user Wumpawarroo posted a Star Wars fan theory which not only argued that Jar Jar Binks is “a trained force user,” but a “knowing Sith collaborator” who “will play a central role in The Force Awakens.” It sounds ridiculous – especially since Jar Jar Binks is considered a poor comic relief character at best by Star Wars fans – but Wumpawarroo dissects Jar Jar’s actions throughout the movies to make a surprisingly compelling hypothesis. Not only did readers react kindly to the theory, but Star Wars fans across the internet began pulling apart the prequel trilogy to see if there were any other clues that might point to Jar Jar having been the true “Phantom Menace” all this time.
So why is it that fans everywhere have bought so hard into this theory? To answer that, we’ll have to put forth a few theories of our own.
For those who have yet to dive into the Jar Jar theory, Wumpawarroo first posits that Jar Jar Binks exhibits uncanny strength and agility throughout the Star Wars prequel trilogy. While the audience may interpret Jar Jar as erratic in combat, many of his movements mimic “Zui Quan” martial arts. Zui Quan, also known as Drunken Fist wushu, is a fighting style that utilizes unpredictable momentum to surprise and attack opponents after they’ve let their guard down. By assuming Jar Jar Binks is indeed using this fighting style, it establishes the possibility that Jar Jar is not the bumbling buffoon we’ve been led to believe he is.
The theory goes on to speculate that Jar Jar not only shows hints of using the force, but in fact utilizes mind control akin to Jedi and Sith masters. Star Wars fans criticized Jar Jar’s presence in Episodes II and III for seeming out of place and unrealistic, but these qualms would be reconciled by believing Jar Jar was in fact manipulating everyone around him. For instance, when Jar Jar receives promotions as a Bombad General and Senate member, he can be seen visibly waving his hands – the usual tell tale sign of mind control. Jar Jar is also seen with Palpatine even well into Episode III, despite having no obvious reason to keep his acquaintance. Fans of the theory take this as a sign that Jar Jar and Palpatine are actually co-conspirators, and knowing both characters hail from Naboo further strengthens this argument.
You may be asking yourself: how plausible is this theory anyway? On one hand, significant figures involved in Star Wars have certainly fanned the flames of this conspiratorial fire. George Lucas has called Jar Jar Binks “the key to all of this” in behind-the-scenes footage of Episode I, and the actor who played Jar Jar even recently tweeted “I will say this, it feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen. No matter how long it takes.
#TPM.” On the other hand, The Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Jar Jar would not be appearing in the upcoming movie, which dashes the idea that Jar Jar would soon be revealed as a Sith master. This does not necessarily mean the theory is wholesale incorrect, but fans will be left guessing its validity for at least a few more years.
Yet the real question here isn’t whether or not the theory is real, but why so many on the internet have been vigorously discussing its plausibility to begin with. While it’s hard to speak for absolutely everyone, the theory shows that the character of Jar Jar Binks could have been redeemed in spite of his widespread hatred in the Star Wars fandom. Many consider the prequel trilogy to be a blight on the Star Wars canon, yet fans have since admitted that Episodes I-III were much more entertaining to watch with this theory in mind. The idea that such a major plot point could be hidden beneath the surface suggests the work of a genius, and revealing that the most reviled aspects of these movies were in fact deliberate clues and misdirection would be the greatest redemption story in cinema history. Yes, we may hate on these movies with every chance we get, but we don’t want to hate on these movies either. Finding a way to appreciate these films in spite of the pop culture ridicule in the past decade is a minor miracle in itself.
In the end, was Jar Jar Binks really a Sith lord all along? It’s certainly far fetched, but we may never know unless George Lucas tells us himself. Yet does it make for entertaining discussion and speculation? You bet! Star Wars would be nothing without the fandom supporting it for all these years, and watching fans find a way to “fix” movies in the franchise shows just how revered this series is. Perhaps the Gungan joker will never cross lightsabers with the heroes of Star Wars, but we’ll never forget the possibility of what-if.
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