We're still a few weeks away from the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and news about returning characters is slowly (but surely) trickling out.
We know for a fact that Leia Organa and Han Solo are definitely coming back and the internet is fairly certain that this metal hand belongs to Luke, of Skywalker fame. Newcomers Finn and Rey have caused an uproar from the Dark Side of the Star Wars fandom, but none of these people are characters I want to talk to you about.
There is one character that The Force Awakens truly needs in order to be a truly spectacular film. His name is Jar Jar Binks.
You don't need to be a Star Wars fanatic to know that Jar Jar Binks, the bumbling Gungan introduced in The Phantom Menace, is one of the franchise's most reviled characters.
Even before he made his first on-screen appearance, fans and critics alike were skeptical about what he would bring to the film. Unlike many of Star Wars's other fantastical aliens, the Gungans (and Jar Jar in particular) seemed to have been created for the sole purpose of appealing to children.
That, in and of itself, wasn't exactly a problem considering that these movies are rife with the boring, adult drama of intergalactic politics and senate battles.
The problem with Jar Jar, rather, had a lot to do with the fact that many of the character's mannerisms were rooted in racist stereotypes. Writing for The New York Times in 1999, Brent Staples derided Binks's "exaggerated West Indian patois" and his loping gate that Staples likened to a pimp walk.
"Binks is by far the stupidest person in the film," Staples argued. "His simple-minded devotion to his (white) Jedi masters has reminded people of Hollywood's most offensive racial stereotypes."
Strictly speaking, Staples is on the money. Most, if not all, of the scenes focused on Jar Jar revolve around his legendary incompetence that the Jedi find endearing, if rather pathetic.
By the time people actually had a chance to see Episode One, Jar Jar's fate to become the symbol of what everyone hated about the prequel trilogy was sealed. The character was loud, difficult to watch, and was more of nuisance than a help. At least that appeared to be the case.
What if all of Jar Jar's ridiculous antics were, in fact, part of a well-crafted, calculated plan crafted by the Gungan people and the nascent Galactic Empire?
As unlikely as that theory might initially sound to you, Reddit user Lumpawarroo has laid out the basic groundwork justifying the idea in extensive detail and it's way more plausible than most would care to admit. The core of the theory, Lumpawarroo explains, begins with a close analysis of Binks's physical prowess.
"Let's establish Jar Jar as a skilled warrior," Lumpawarroo explains. "While this does not in itself necessitate a connection with the Physical Force, it's highly suggestive in the Star Wars universe—very rarely do we see 'normal' characters exhibiting extraordinary stunt work or physical feats unless they are Jedi, Sith, or at least force sensitives."
What Lumpawarroo is referring to is a less commonly understood application of the Force that you've seen in the movies and TV shows, but perhaps not entirely understood. Jedi are able to move physical objects using their minds, but they are also known to use the Force to affect their bodies' own movement through space, allowing them to jump large distances or withstand falls from great heights.
In further support of their argument, Lumpawarroo picked out a number of different GIFs all purportedly showcasing Jar Jar's mastery of Drunken Fist wushu, a complicated form of martial art. The movements, Lumpawarroo asserts, explain Jar Jar's uncanny ability to evade harm while seemingly stumbling around like a drunk.
"This discipline seeks to imitate the 'sloshing,' seemingly random foibles of a drunkard," Lumpawaroo explains. "But in reality the staggering and stumbling is the use of bodily momentum, deception, and unpredictability intended to lure and confuse opponents."
In the course of his Reddit thread, Lumpawaroo further argues that a closer reading of Jar Jar's inexplicable luck, ability to charm Jedi, and his eventual path to becoming the Gungan representative to the Galactic Senate reveals him to be a skilled tactician.
"If you watch the prequels with the idea that Jar Jar might be a manipulative, dark character, you begin to notice just how insidious and subtle his manipulation is, and how effective, in almost every sequence he's involved in, and also just how hyper-aware of the overarching plot he really is."
The theory doesn't truly become interesting until you put all of the pieces together and consider what just what kind of role Jar Jar could play both in the films and as a part of George Lucas' ultimate vision for the larger story:
One of Lucas' big deals with the prequels was that they were intended to "rhyme" and mirror the original trilogy in terms of general narrative themes. So there should have been a seemingly innocent creature found on the side of the road that later reveals itself as a major player.
We do have a creature that this seems to describe precisely… Jar Jar… but of course he never develops into a "master" anything.
Here's what I think happened: I think that Jar Jar was initially intended to be the prequel (and Dark Side) equivalent of Yoda.
Just as Yoda has his "big reveal" when we learn that his tottering, geriatric goofball persona is just a mask, Jar Jar was intended to have a big reveal in Episode II or III where we learn that he's not really a naive dope, but rather a master puppeteer Sith in league with (or perhaps in charge of) Palpatine.
Where, if anywhere, does this leave Jar Jar? Technically, in a state of fictional limbo. While there are fan-edits to suggest otherwise, Binks is not, in fact, dead yet. Rather, his status is currently unknown. Last we saw him, he was still representing the Gundans of Naboo to the Galactic Senate.
But there's a chance that maybe, just maybe, Binks could return in The Force Awakens under a new name and a new role—one being motion-captured by Andy Serkis.
"If you are able to somehow change the nature of Jar Jar from embarrassing idiot to jaw-dropping villain, suddenly the entire prequel trilogy must be seen in a new light," the theory posits. "Because it becomes the setup for the most astounding reveal in film history: Jar Jar Binks is Supreme Leader Snoke!"
…think about it.
Disclosure: Fusion is partly owned by Disney’s ABC network. Disney also owns Lucasfilm and Star Wars.