An epidemic has hit Star Wars. No, not an epidemic: a disease. It threatens the very existence of the fandom we love.
Everyone thinks every character is someone else.
Too dramatic? Yeah, probably. But the point holds true, as does the emotion of it.
In the original trilogy, the reveal of Darth Vader as Luke’s father rocked a generation. People spent three years in between films questioning the validity of the claim, only to find out that (shock! awe!) he was telling the truth. But the identity game was left there. Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker and everyone else was exactly who they said they were as well.
With the prequel trilogy, we knew where everything was going. Who was going to die, who was going to live, and vaguely how the pieces fit together. Therefore the shock was not in major reveals of an identity crisis within the character, but rather the focus was on the story of those characters. This is a reality that seems to be overshadowed about the original trilogy when considering the reveal of Vader as Anakin. This was done not for the shock factor, but rather because it made the best story.
Now, with the sequel trilogy, we are standing in an unprecedented landscape. We have no idea what is going to come, as was true of the original trilogy, but so many ideas to share about where it is going. Whereas people of the original trilogy generation would just talk about it with their friends on the playground or the coffee shop, we now live in an era where we can share it with the world.
And this massive ability to share with the entire fandom is not always a good thing.
Nowadays, we are all movie critics (myself included). We all have opinions, no matter how valid or invalid, or for that matter researched they may be. Truth be told, I am fine with that. The reality is that in anything, everyone has an opinion. The best analogy for this would be sports. There are entire packages for cable and satellite revolving around sports channels, most of which are channels centered around shows featuring “pundits” and “experts” sharing their opinion. Our fandom is not too different.
Consider that, except for Vader’s reveal, we have not had any earth shattering revelations in the Star Wars galaxy. Leia as Luke’s sister was a twist, but it feels like trying to reach the bar Empire. Han and Leia getting together was foreshadowed since the prison break in A New Hope. In the prequels, the only things that could be considered shocking are Palpatine being behind the war, which only really counts if you are a complete Star Wars novice, and how Padme died, which is really more about who killed her (Anakin choking her, a broken heart, Palpatine’s manipulation of the midi-chlorians, insert other ideas here) than that she died.
So in essence, when considering shocking reveals in a Star Wars film, the only frame of reference we have is that of identity. Which is more than likely the cause of the plethora of “this person is that person” theories that have come out since the announcement of Episode VII.
There is, of course, the Rey lineage that plays a major role in this. Truth be told, it makes the most logical sense that, were there to be a shocking identity reveal, it would be in the case of Rey. So that part of the saga aside, let’s look at some of the more “popular” speculation that has come out of late.
Luke Skywalker is Kylo Ren.
Ben Solo is a double agent.
DJ stands for Dark Jedi.
Benicio Del Toro is Ezra.
Snoke is everyone.
Now, let’s be clear that the speculation game is a fun one. The danger is not in the speculation, but instead in how we limit ourselves only to what we know. We know that in Star Wars, a hidden identity and family lineage rocked our socks off (or gloves… sorry Luke…). And we go from there. Alas, if we keep walking, though, we might walk ourselves right off a cliff, coming up with so many ideas of who is who that the depth and complexity of the characters that are actually revealed within the story are disappointing because they do not live up to our expectations.
Then again, Snoke could be a time traveling Jar Jar Binks with a Napoleon complex.