Warning: This story contains possible (and theoretical) spoilers for The Force Awakens.
The Star Wars universe is limitless. It expands thousands of years and thousands of lightyears in every direction, and there’s no telling where it ends. Ships can travel to different planets instantly with hyperdrive, humans live alongside droids, clones, and alien species, and there’s real magic to be found in the Force.
So it only makes sense that the theories and headcanon fans have dreamed up along the way is just as infinite.
In just a few days, millions of fans all over the world will finally see The Force Awakens, and despite it being arguably the biggest movie of the decade, director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm have told us nearly nothing about it. Sure, we’ve learned that Finn is an ex-stormtrooper gone rogue, Rey’s family abandoned her on Jakku as a kid, Poe Dameron is the son of two Rebels who fought against the Galactic Empire, Kylo Ren is a zealous Darth Vader fanboy, and Leia is now a general. We’ve heard plenty about the Resistance and the First Order, Maz Kanata and her watering hole, and that rascally adorable droid BB-8.
But what happened to allow the rise of the First Order? Who will die? What has the old gang been doing for the past 30 years? Who is Rey’s family? And where the hell is Luke Skywalker?
We’re not going to find anything out until people start seeing the film, of course. With nothing to do but wait until the big premiere, fans can only wonder and speculate—which can quickly get out of hand.
So which popular theories are right and which ones are wrong? Chances are most are completely off-base, but until we feast our eyes on The Force Awakens, there is only one correct response.
1) Luke = Kylo Ren
At first glance, the whole idea that Luke is the villain with the crossguard lightsaber is really out there. How can that be possible when Mark Hamill is back and we’ve already seen Adam Driver in costume without his mask? And not to mention the two actors look practically nothing alike.
But have you ever seen Luke and Kylo in the same room?
The evidence, which is probably thin at best, focuses on the scene in the third The Force Awakens trailer where Kylo is having a long and deep talk with Darth Vader’s mask and says, “I will finish what you started.”
— CinemaGuy (@CinemaNewsNow) December 5, 2015
Vader wanted to bring balance to the Force (back when he was known as Anakin Skywalker), but it was ultimately a challenge he failed. It could also be something that Luke, who stepped in as the Chosen One in the original trilogy, might aspire to complete. While the First Order was inspired by the Galactic Empire’s principals, who would know Vader’s goals better than his son?
Abrams told Empire Magazine that Kylo is not a Sith lord, but instead he works under Supreme Leader Snoke, someone who is connected with the dark side—so that might be a strike against Luke going full Sith.
2) Just where do those dang kids come from, anyway?
The running assumption with many Star Wars fans is that at least one of the new main characters in The Force Awakens is somehow related to the older generation from the original trilogy. It’s a fair point to explore, similar to the theories surrounding Jon Snow’s parentage on Game of Thrones, but it can also be based on convenience. Some of the new generation might have found their way into this new fight by happenstance, but we can’t yet discount a connection to Luke, Han Solo, or General Leia Organa.
While we know plenty about Poe Dameron’s parentage thanks to Shattered Empire, so it’s probably safe to say that his connections with the Resistance are purely by rank. But what about Finn, Rey, and Kylo—all of whom don’t have last names? (The name “Ren” isn’t a surname but rather a title that comes from the Knights of Ren.)
Even if they all turn out to have parents who don’t figure into the story at all, it’s fun to at least imagine how all of those relationships turned out—something we may not find out until later installments in the franchise.
Han + Leia = Rey
Rey is arguably the main hero in The Force Awakens: She’s prominently featured in the poster and she’s the one who appears to be asked the big questions by Maz Kanata. One of the biggest mysteries in The Force Awakens will likely surround her parents. Who are they, and why did they abandon her on Jakku as a child?
Han and Leia, as the main couple in Star Wars canon, would be the logical choice—because of course they stayed together all of these years. They’re powerful leaders in the Resistance (at least Leia is), and they’re probably high on the First Order’s hit list. So what do they do about their daughter, who would almost certainly be a target for kidnapping or assassination attempts?
But in that case, why couldn’t they have left her with someone they trusted to take care of her (if that wasn’t the case with Jakku) or put together some sort of Resistance Kid daycare center for everyone else in that position?
Han and Rey apparently meet again years later, and at some point she’s seen sitting in one of the pilot seats of the Millennium Falcon. Considering that Han loves that ship practically more than life itself, that’s a big deal.
Han + Leia = Kylo + Rey
The other main Star Wars parent theory uses H+L=R and takes it further: Not only are Han and Leia Rey’s parents, but she and Kylo are twins. It would not only mirror Luke and Leia, who are twins, it could even be a parallel to Jaina and Jacen Solo from the Expanded Universe. While Rey ended up on Jakku, Kylo may have been kidnapped and raised by the First Order.
Take, for instance, the main poster for The Force Awakens. Rey and Kylo are side by side, with his crossguard lightsaber and her staff mirroring each other.
— Star Wars (@starwars) October 18, 2015
Some believe that Rey is Force-sensitive while Kylo has demonstrated at least some control of the Force; at the very least he knows enough Jedi lore to construct his own lightsaber. And having Leia, who is Force-sensitive herself, as a mother could be a factor in that.
With their allegiances in check, that realization might not be as happy as when Luke revealed to Leia that they were siblings.
Luke is Rey’s father
To the new characters who inhabit the Star Wars universe, Luke is practically a myth. The First Order knows him as the man who destroyed the Galactic Empire, and he may be in exile, although the reason why is up for debate, whether it’s to protect the galaxy, his friends and family, or even himself. That exile, if Rey is his daughter, could explain why he left her on Jakku.
Jedi are prohibited from forming attachments to the world such as family and love, so for Luke—regardless of how much control of the Force he has—having a daughter may be dangerous. Remember, Obi-Wan and Yoda went to great lengths to hide Luke and Leia from their father the minute they were born. Of course, that could’ve also been due to who their father was, not just because he was a Jedi.
Finn is Lando’s son / Lando + Leia = Finn
— SuperBroMovies (@SuperBroMovies) November 7, 2015
The product description has since removed any mention of Lando on the puzzle tin, but it’s unclear if it was removed for inaccuracy or because it’s a potential spoiler. The puzzle set now has plenty of negative reviews from fans who accused Blue Water Product King, which is selling the set, of misleading fans and coming up with fake spoilers just to sell a product.
“Maybe they have a puzzle of Mace Windu’s grandson instead as apparently Mace and Lando are the only two black people in the entire Star Wars universe and any new black character must be related somehow,” one angry fan wrote.
There is also a report that claims that according to the second draft of the script from Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, one of the characters is listed as Lando’s son (although Finn isn’t specifically mentioned). While you should probably take that with a giant grain of salt, it also does say that “the lead character is Han and Leia’s daughter.”
But as for linking Lando and Leia together? One person possibly believes that Leia got Luke’s lightsaber from Lando (presumably after returning to Cloud City after the Battle of Endor), but that meeting wouldn’t necessarily mean that a child came of it—one that could possibly have been kidnapped by the First Order.
Han + Sana = Finn / Finn is Mace Windu’s grandson
In the ongoing Star Wars comic that takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, we’re introduced to Sana Starros, a bounty hunter who initially introduces herself as Han’s wife. And while their “marriage” is part of a scam she and Han have pulled off before, it’d be quite a twist if that’s how Finn came into the world.
While Sana isn’t in the films, her newfound presence in the comics makes her part of the Star Wars canon. And until we find out otherwise, we can’t assume she’s dead.
It’s hard to imagine Mace Windu breaking his Jedi vows to have children like Anakin did, but the rumor that Finn is Mace’s grandson persists—and it even got some attention from John Boyega at last week’s The Force Awakens press conference after he was asked about his favorite fan theory.
“I was at a party and someone behind me just tapped me on the shoulder and was like ‘Yo, black Jedi!’” Boyega told reporters. “I turned around and it was Samuel L. Jackson. He was like, ‘You’re my son!’”
So while it doesn’t seem like that one will come to pass, it’s good to know the stars are having fun with it.
3) “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story”
After everything Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca have been through in the original Star Wars trilogy, it’s a miracle that everyone made it out alive. We imagine that probably won’t be the case from here on out. Hamill revealed that he’s returning for Episode VIII—although whether he’s alive or a Force ghost is yet to be seen. The other characters may not be as lucky.
Harrison Ford has famously stated that he wanted Han to die in Return of the Jedi. Seeing how he appears to hold a high command and still flies the most recognizable ship to the First Order, he serves as a prime target.
But some fans believe that Chewy will die in The Force Awakens. He’s not around when Han, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 visit what some people believe is Maz Kanata’s castle in the main trailer, and having been part of that group previously, where could he be if he wasn’t left behind on the Millennium Falcon?
Later in that trailer, Rey is seen crying over someone’s body. Is that a familiar and furry body we see, or is it a leather coat that both Finn and Poe have worn?
4) Kylo Ren wants to bring Darth Vader back to life
As far as we know in Star Wars canon, there’s no way to bring someone back from the dead—although it was once used as a bargaining chip for Anakin to join the dark side. Or is there? One theory suggests that the Knights of Ren are trying to resurrect Darth Vader, with Kylo among them.
We already know that Kylo is obsessed with Vader and that the former Sith Lord could be seen as a martyr for the forces of evil. We’ve also seen from the trailer that Kylo is in possession of Vader’s helmet. But there’s at least one piece of Vader memorabilia (not including R2-D2 or C-3PO) that Kylo doesn’t have: Anakin’s original lightsaber.
And guess who has that lightsaber?
As for the how Vader could be brought back, whether figuratively or literally, is far less certain. But there are a couple potential hints from Star Wars Aftermath (an in-canon book that takes place after Return of the Jedi) that could possibly suggest a way to do it or characters who knew how.
Too bad the Knights of Ren totally missed Vader’s redemption that both saved Luke’s life and allowed for the Rebels to win the Battle of Endor—but they probably don’t teach that part in First Order academies.
5) Supreme Leader Snoke = Darth Plagueis
We know almost nothing about Andy Serkis’s Snoke, who Kylo reports to in The Force Awakens. He’s one of “only two performance-capture characters” in the movie (Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata is the other), and he’s playing the long-game with his schemes. Although Serkis says that Snoke is a new character in the universe, that won’t stop some people from theorizing that Snoke has been around for a while. And not just anyone: He’s Darth Plagueis, the former master of Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine), who we thought was killed by Sidious.
It’s a big stretch, but anything is possible in this galaxy.
6) Luke is guarding a Sith tomb from the Knights of Ren
Luke’s whereabouts are perhaps among the most asked questions from Star Wars fans, so it only makes sense that there’s a spectrum of ideas. Many believe that Luke is in exile, but this time it’s for a very good reason: to stop the Knights of Ren from accessing an old Sith tomb.
This theory comes from revealed plot points by Making Star Wars’s Jason Ward, who relied on anonymous sources, so you may want to take this with a grain of salt. But if that’s the case, it would explain why the Knights of Ren are searching for Luke’s old lightsaber.
7) Darth Jar Jar
Last month, a redditor came up with a wildly unbelievable theory linking the most polarizing character from the prequel trilogies to the dark side as source of great evil in The Force Awakens.
The theory has everything: tropes turned on their head, evidence from the films, and what might be the greatest twist in history. It not only made people appreciate Jar Jar more, it made them want to rewatch the prequels.
Abrams may have completely ruled out Jar Jar Binks’s return in The Force Awakens, but he does have a certain fondness for the theory.
“There was this unbelievably lengthy analysis, in a very seriously thought-out way, as to why it’s obviously true that he is [evil],” Abrams told Entertainment Weekly. “That to me is remarkable.”
If only he and Lucasfilm decide to make it so.
Photo via Star Wars/YouTube | Remix by Max Fleishman