A great twist ending, big reveal or hidden meaning can make a movie even more fun to watch and rewatch, but sometimes, it’s the fans who end up crafting a theory that makes the original film seem even more brilliant than it could on its own. Not every fan theory is as inspired or clever as the best of them, but every so often, they make watching a classic movie twice as much fun – and can even make the original writers look bad.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Movie Theories That Completely Change Popular Films.
The Lord of The Rings
From the moment the giant eagles arrived to fly Frodo and Sam out of Mordor, fans and critics of The Lord of The Rings all asked the same question: why didn’t Gandalf the Grey just get the eagles to fly the ring into Mordor and destroy it the moment he found it? One fan theory claims that was Gandalf’s plan the entire time. But with Sauron’s spies lurking everywhere, he couldn’t share the plan until the Fellowship was in the clear, on the other side of the mountains where the evil wizard Saruman couldn’t stop them, or send word ahead to Mordor.
But when Gandalf ended up falling into the depths of Moria, he’d forgotten about it completely when he returned as Gandalf the White. Apparently, his last words to the Fellowship tried to clue them in: “Fly, you fools!”
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton’s stop motion musical The Nightmare Before Christmas was a surprise hit, making Jack Skellington, his ghost dog Zero and the vampires, skeletons, and zombie residents of Halloweentown a kids’ classic. But fans started getting suspicious when years later, Burton released The Corpse Bride, the story of a tall, thin man named Victor who took a trip to the Land of the Dead, a colourful world of skeletons and zombies, reuniting with his skeletal dog, Scraps. And when Frankenweenie starred a young boy – also named Victor – bringing his dog Sparky back from the dead, one theory emerged: Burton was telling the story of one man, and his dog, but in reverse order. The theory isn’t perfect, but as explanations of the similarities go, it’s hard to beat.
Mad Max Fury Road
When the mantle of Mad Max was handed to a new actor for Fury Road, it was clear fans would need to use their imagination. Officially, the character was still Max (in a universe where age doesn’t really matter). But as soon as the movie released, die hard fans saw a secret story underneath the surface. The grunts and wild side of Max could be a result of years spent in the wasteland, but one theory claims Tom Hardy wasn’t playing Max Rockatansky at all, but the young “Feral Kid” from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, all grown up.
Narrating Fury Road just like he did The Road Warrior, the kid grew up to idolize Max, keeping his music box as a gift (seen played just before the final chase sequence starts) and even dressing like his former hero. Only when he truly became a hero did he take up his idol’s name for himself. True or not, it’s worth another viewing to see for yourself.
The multiple actors who’ve played 007 make it hard to see the film series as one long story. But one creative theory solves the problem: what if ‘James Bond‘ is only a codename, reserved for the agents claiming the 007 title? It would explain why James regularly uses his real name despite being a secret agent, and would help MI6’s top agent gain legendary status around the world. When one gets too old or is captured, a younger agent takes his place as Bond, whose invincible exploits grow his reputation.
If it sounds good to you, fans can also look at Michael Bay’s The Rock as something of a sequel, with Sean Connery playing a British spy who spent three decades in prison – since according to America and England, he never existed…
Drag Me To Hell
Drag Me To Hell‘s grotesque horror story of a young woman cursed by an elderly witch fits right in with director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead roots, but what if the movie isn’t supernatural at all? If you pay attention to the character’s childhood obesity hinted at in the first act, and the struggle to leave her addict mother and her Southern accent behind, the movie makes way more sense as a woman with an eating disorder slowly driving herself insane. Notice how the vomiting witch always shows up in the kitchen, or tries to shove things down the main character’s throat? Or how a piece of cake comes to life to keep her from eating?
Eventually her illusions drive her past the brink and she commits suicide by jumping in front of a train, convincing herself it’s the work of a curse, not the side effects of starving herself beyond reason. Dark.
The story of Harry Potter began under a staircase in the home of the Dursleys – the worst adoptive parents you could ever hope for. But why were Harry Potter’s aunt and uncle so cruel, and why would his mother have left her son with such awful people? One answer can be found when fans remember the effect of a single Horcrux in The Deathly Hallows. The piece of Voldemort’s soul contained in a cursed locket fed on those around it, darkening their spirits until even the trio of best friends were paranoid and filled with hate and jealousy.
If Dumbledore was actually right when he called Harry a kind of Horcrux – the one that Voldemort never meant to make – it explains why his aunt and uncle might have been a loving family when Harry arrived… before years of sharing their home with a piece of Voldemort made them the cruel monsters audiences saw.
The Pixar Universe Theory
Everyone knows all about Pixar’s love of tiny connections and easter eggs, all hinting that the characters exist in the very same universe. But a larger theory asks one big question: what if every Pixar film is telling one massive story, but it’s just told out of order? It’s clear that the company ‘BnL’ (visible in Toy Story 3) is responsible for killing Earth in Wall-E, but only after the age of The Incredibles‘ superheroes ended, with their magic passed on to intelligent animals, or cars.
Some parts of the theory are hard to believe, but the best idea claims the stars of Monsters, Inc. were using closets to travel back in time, eventually leading Boo centuries back in time trying to find her furry friend… into a medieval cottage. That explains why the witch in Brave has carvings of Sully and the modern day Pizza Planet truck.
There’s nothing the Jedi love more than a prophecy, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy was based on probably the most important one ever written: “In the time of greatest despair/ a child shall be born/ who will destroy the Sith/ and bring balance to the Force.” Officially, Anakin Skywalker was this Chosen One, who tragically fell to the Dark Side and took the galaxy and Jedi Order with him. But some fans point out that Anakin wasn’t born in a time of great despair – his son Luke was.
It was a twist of fate (read: The Force) that led Luke into becoming a Jedi, and he ended up destroying the Sith by saving his father. The conclusion: the Jedi thought Anakin was the Chosen One, and he cracked under the pressure. But it was his son Luke all along. He didn’t just redeem his father, but proved the prophecy true after all. If you ask us, that’s the best way of linking the two trilogies that George Lucas never even thought of.
Older Disney fans may not remember that the story of Aladdin begins with a quippy shopkeeper in Agrabah looking to sell the audience on a golden lamp. But when the stars get their happy ending, the shopkeeper never returns. Theories began to spread that the entire movie was just made up to sell the lamp, since Robin Williams voiced both the Genie and the energetic peddler. Either that, or freeing Genie turned him into a powerless human.
Thankfully the co-director recently confirmed that Aladdin originally ended with the shopkeeper revealing himself to be Genie, making the entire movie a retelling of how he earned his freedom years, maybe even centuries before. Instead, Disney kept things simple – and open to sequels.
Every horror movie can learn a lesson from John Carpenter’s antarctic horror story The Thing, where an alien capable of mimicking humans starts picking off a research team one by one. In the end, only Kurt Russell’s hero MacReady and Keith David’s Childs survive. The movie ends with the men slowly freezing to death, wondering if the other is the alien in disguise, but one theory makes the ending a lot clearer. When MacReady is introduced, he’s losing a game of chess against a computer, but he gets the last laugh with a glass of Scotch, frying the computer’s circuits.
The same scene is repeated in the real life game of chess at the end – only it’s not Scotch in the bottle. It’s a Molotov cocktail from earlier in the movie, and Childs drinking straight gasoline reveals he’s the alien. MacReady laughs, since the script – and the actor – confirm he’s hiding a flamethrower just outside of the frame. How’s that for closure?
Those are the best theories fans have come up with for major movies that we could find, but which ones have we missed? Check out more details on the theories online and let us know what you think of them in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.