Jar Jar Binks is notorious as the bumbling buffoon of Star Wars lore - but could he be a secret Sith Lord? George Lucas has always maintained that Star Wars is for the kids, and when he was launching the Prequel Trilogy, he decided he needed to have some comic relief. That led Lucas to create Jar Jar Binks.
Jar Jar is generally viewed as the most annoying character in the entire Star Wars franchise, a bumbling comedy sidekick who somehow lucks out in battle and winds up elevated to impossible positions. Even Lucasfilm insiders weren't struck by the character; the Industrial Light & Magic animation team actually warned Lucas they thought he didn't work. But Lucas wouldn't flinch, and to this day Lucas still considers Jar-Jar to be his favorite Star Wars character.
But is there more to Jar Jar Binks than meets the eye? One theory suggests that Jar-Jar is concealing a dark secret; that his foolishness, clumsiness, lack of self-awareness and general stupidity is just an act. According to this theory, he is really Darth Jar Jar, Dark Lord of the Sith, and possibly even Palpatine's true Master.
The Darth Jar Jar Theory Explained
The Darth Jar Jar theory was first dreamed up by the Redditor Lumpawarroo, shortly before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He rewatched the Prequels with a critical eye, and began to realize that there was something distinctly odd about Jar Jar Binks. He noticed several signs of Jar Jar displaying flashes of unusual physical coordination, such as performing somersaults the likes of which are normally associated with Force users in Star Wars. On closer examination, he also noted that several of Jar Jar's action sequences resemble a martial art called Zui Quan, or Drunken Fist wushu. Interestingly, during the Battle of Naboo in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, there are even a handful of moments where Jar Jar shows preternatural awareness - dodging blaster shots before they're fired, or knowing a droideka is behind him when it's been completely silent.
Like any Jedi or Sith, Jar Jar tends to gesture with his hands when he's attempting to persuade others - and, significantly, he performs hand gestures in scenes where he's promoted to Bombad General, or to Senator. He even uses his hands in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, in the scene where he persuades the Senate to hand control of the galaxy over to Palpatine. Given this is the case, then - combined with Jar Jar's occasional physicality - it hints Jar Jar could be a Force user too, perhaps even the Sith Lord Darth Jar Jar.
That raises the disturbing possibility that Palpatine and Jar Jar were collaborators. They both originated from the same planet, after all, and Jar Jar serves Darth Sidious' purposes on many occasions. In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Jar Jar plants the idea that the Queen is hot in Anakin's mind, and encourages the young would-be Jedi to question the Jedi methods from the start. In Attack of the Clones, he's key to Palpatine's acquiring emergency powers. Years after he has been useful, in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Jar Jar is still shown in Palpatine's company - not something that would happen if he were really as useless, clumsy, and embarrassing as the films portray him to be. All this suggests that Jar Jar is part of Palpatine's inner circle, a secret Force user who helped the Dark Lord of the Sith achieve his goals.
Was Darth Jar Jar The Mirror Of Yoda?
At first glance, all this seems pretty unlikely; however, all that changes when you factor in the Star Wars "Ring Theory." Lucas said that he considered the Star Wars saga to be poetry; as he famously said during the production of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, "It’s like poetry, they rhyme. Every stanza kinda rhymes with the last one." According to Ring Theory, the Star Wars narrative is a loop that doubles back on itself structurally. Literature traditionally does this with keywords, but Ring Theory suggests Lucas did it using broader story structure and cinematic language.
The Empire Strikes Back introduced viewers to Jedi Master Yoda, a character who Lucas deliberately designed to represent the fairy-tale trope of a character you would otherwise overlook secretly being the master wizard. Yoda was originally presented as whimsical, mercurial, and frankly annoying in terms of his sense of humor. Although Yoda himself appears in the Prequel Trilogy there's no direct parallel for this role, which seems odd. All that raises the question of where Jar Jar Binks - whimsical, mercurial, and with an annoying sense of humor - was an inversion of Master Yoda. The apparent fool is actually the master wizard; but this time a dark master, allied with the Sith, perhaps even numbering among them. There are certainly enough evident parallels to make this seem feasible.
Was This Really George Lucas' Plan?
Of course, the reality is that this probably wasn't George Lucas' plan at all. He intended Jar Jar to appeal to children, and as such it's highly doubtful that he'd have written the character as a secret Dark Lord of the Sith. All the unusual flashes of acrobatic skill and so on are presumably due to inconsistent treatment of the character than to any intentional subterfuge, and the hand gestures likely represent Lucas' desire for Jar Jar to have a sense of physicality to him. The slapstick, Zui Quan-style martial arts aren't a dark, subtle secret; they really are slapstick, coming from the same man who created the Ewoks and had Threepio produce a stream of one-liners during the Battle of Geonosis.
The truth is that Jar Jar wasn't Palpatine's ally or even master; he was the Sith Lord's patsy. In fact, in an interview with EW actor Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar, revealed there was a deleted scene featuring the Gungan. "In Revenge of the Sith, there was a scene that was cut where I'm walking down a long pathway with Iain McDiarmid before he is turned into the Emperor," Best recalled, "and Palpatine kind of thanks Jar Jar for putting him in power." It's an undeniably dark moment, showing the evolution of Jar Jar from fun-loving kids' character into a manipulated politician. "But yeah," he added, "George’s take on it is Jar Jar is now just a politician.”
The Star Wars 7 Jar Jar/Snoke Theory
The Darth Jar Jar theory got something of a boost when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, simply because some fans began to speculate that Jar Jar was secretly Supreme Leader Snoke. The new would-be galactic tyrant seemed set up to be somebody important, and as a result there was intense interest in his backstory. Was he really a new character - or did he have secret ties that ran back through the Star Wars franchise? Fans picked up on the Darth Jar Jar theory, and suggested that Snoke was secretly Jar Jar Binks. They picked up on some vague references to early concept art for Snoke, which described him as having a hooded head like a cobra and thick, bulbous lips, and suggested that description corresponded with Snoke. The hologram in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was easily explained away as a fake image, used by Snoke to conceal his real appearance.
Of course, in the end, Star Wars: The Last Jedi put paid to that theory. Supreme Leader Snoke does indeed appear to be a brand new character, and director Rian Johnson treated his origin story as an irrelevance, killing him off without dropping any real hints at all. He most certainly didn't have any ties to Jar Jar Binks.
The Legacy Of The Darth Jar Jar Theory
Jar Jar may not be the secret identity of Supreme Leader Snoke, but that doesn't mean the Darth Jar Jar theory is dead. It's still popular - even after the Aftermath trilogy of novels included a scene on Naboo, that showed an aged Jar Jar treated as an outcast by the Gungans because of his unwitting complicity in founding the Emperor. Proponents of the Darth Jar Jar theory suggest he was just lying low, and even point to the fact he was offering to teach someone his crazy tricks; they suggested he'd identified another dark side user, someone who he could bend to the ways of the Sith.
The human mind tends to draw patterns, even ones that aren't really there, and Darth Jar Jar is one of those. It's a theory that works, that draws together all the inconsistencies and annoyances about Jar Jar's character, and turns them into something far more interesting and exciting. But the reality, sadly, is that George Lucas never intended Jar Jar to be anything more than light relief, and then turned him into a failed politician and patsy, probably partly because he realized nobody was reacting well to the character. Of course, Lucas isn't involved anymore, and it's possible Lucasfilm will revisit Jar Jar with a retcon. But it's doubtful they'd go down such a direction with a character Lucas still says he loves.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019