Interpretation and analysis are just some of the many joys of being a movie fan. Even some of the most seemingly straightforward plots can inspire intense speculation as fans pick out overlooked themes or details which are capable of painting the movie in a whole new light. Most of these theories range from interesting and plausible to bordering on insane, but there’s no denying that there might just be something you’ve missed in those movies you’ve watched time and time again.
10. Sid from Toy Story Learned from his Mistakes
On first glance, it seems that the brief reappearance of Sid in Toy Story 3 is some sort of sweet karmic justice. Recognisable by the skull t-shirt he wore in the first movie, grown-up Sid is seen working as the local neighbourhood garbageman. However, one fan has speculated that Sid has learned from the events of the first movie and now saves abandoned toys from being sent to the trash dump and being burned in the incinerator – a fate that Woody and the gang very nearly find themselves in at the end of the movie
9. Loki Wanted to Fail in the Avengers
As the God of Mischief, Loki has a certain reputation to uphold. Some fans were apparently so unimpressed by his efforts to take over the Earth in the Avengers that they came up with a reason for his failure. One popular fan theory argues that Loki had no intentions of ruling Earth and that he wanted to lose so that he could find his way back to Asgard. It’s been speculated that this was also part of Thanos’ plan and that both villains are looking at the long game, but only time will tell if future Marvel movies reveal this intriguing villainous gambit.
8. Aladdin is Set in the Future
It takes a very overactive imagination to argue that one of Disney’s classic cartoons is actually set in a post-apocalyptic future, but then that’s the beauty of fan theories. The idea is that Aladdin is set in a far-off future where society and civilisation has crumbled from some sort of catastrophic event. Only Arabic and Greek culture has survived, the Muslim religion no longer requires mosques or Imams and there are few remnants from more technologically sophisticated times. Although the movie takes place in a non-specific time period, this entire theory rests on two comments made by the Genie. He says that he’s been in the lamp for 10,000 years and at one point refers to Aladdin’s clothes as so “3rd century”. This has been used to argue that Aladdin could be set around 10300 AD and that the Genie was imprisoned during some point in the 3rd or 4th century. But then we don’t actually know what he’s exposed to since he was last summoned – the Special Edition DVD has a tour of the genie’s lamp which shows that he has a huge living space – and seeing as he’s a massively powerful cosmic being he probably has a different perspective on time and reality anyway.
7. James Bond is a Code Name
James Bond is something of an anomaly in the world of cinema. The series has trundled on uninterrupted for more than half a century and cycled through 7 actors in the iconic role. Yet some fans of the series just can’t get on board with the idea that such an enduring character would simply be recast every few years. As a possible way to maintain continuity, one theory proposes that James Bond is actually a codename and each Bond actor was playing a new top agent at MI6. It makes sense when you also look at the fact that the three actors who have played ‘M’ all presided over different versions of Bond over the years, but it falls apart when Lazenby’s Bond marries Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She died at the end of the movie but his successor, Roger Moore, is seen paying tribute at her grave in For Your Eyes Only. Vague references to the marriage are also made throughout the series but Skyfall put the nail in the theory’s coffin when Craig’s Bond visits the gravestones of his parents and they both have the surname Bond.
6. The Ending of Taxi Driver is a Dream
The fairly uplifting ending of Taxi Driver which shows Travis Bickle being praised by the media is certainly a jarring change to the rest of the gritty film. Over the years fans and film critics alike have suggested that it’s all actually a dream. The theory argues that the closing epilogue is a form of wish-fulfilment as Travis lays dying from his wounds on the couch in the brothel and imagines that his murderous rampage has done some good in the world. Writer Paul Schrader has said that he intended the ending as a sort of loop which could go back to the very beginning of the film and that Travis is still like “a ticking time bomb.”
5. Bill Isn’t Actually Dead in Kill Bill
Non-linear storytelling aside, the plot of Kill Bill isn’t exactly complicated. Betrayed and left for dead by her former hitmen comrades The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, The Bride cuts a bloody path avenging those who have wronged her before she comes to her ex-boss and ex-lover Bill. However, one fan theory argues that the Bride doesn’t kill Bill when she performs the 5 Point Palm Fist of Death at the end of the second movie. The evidence centres on the end black and white credits which has a cross struck through the names of the actors whose characters were killed by the Bride. Daryl Hannah has a ? because we don’t actually see her die on screen but David Carradine’s name is left untouched. Why Bill might not be dead, however, isn’t as easy to explain.
4. Ferris Bueller doesn’t Exist
What if Ferris Bueller was simply a figment of his best friend Cameron’s imagination and this spontaneous, carefree alter ego is a way for him to escape the reality of his horrible home life and overbearing father? This popular fan theory argues that either the whole film is a fantasy or that Cameron plays hookey for a day with his fictional creations Ferris and Sloane (who may represent other people in his life – like the popular kid in school and a girl Cameron has a crush on) who help him reassess his life and make him realise he finally has to stand up to his father.
3. Stanley Kubrick Admits he Helped Fake the Moon landings in The Shining
If you’re planning on faking the moon landings, it makes sense to get one of the world’s greatest living film directors to help you with it. Fresh off the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey, this conspiracy theory argues that Stanley Kubrick was approached by NASA to help them shoot fake moon footage. When Kubrick made the Shining more than 20 years later, he apparently deliberately included clues about his involvement which included Danny’s Apollo 11 jumper, Room 237 (a reference to the distance between the Earth and the Moon), hexagonal carpet patterns which look like launch pads and other tenuous connections.
2. The Contents of the Briefcase in Pulp Fiction
Ever since the release of Pulp Fiction back in 1994, movie fans have bickered back and forth about the contents of that briefcase. Hitmen Jules and Vincent are tasked with retrieving the case belonging to crime boss Marsellus Wallace after it is been stolen by his wayward employee Brett. Vincent unlocks the briefcase with the number combination ‘666’ and when he opens it his face is covered by a glowing gold light. The most popular theory states that the case contains Marcellus’ soul, hence the unearthly glow and biblical number password. The gold light is certainly a tantalising effect, but Tarantino has dismissed theories and stated that the cool-looking McGuffin is “whatever the viewer wants it to be.”
1. Stan Lee is a Watcher
It’s fair to say that Stan Lee has become a pretty integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the comic legend has taken a backseat from appearing in non-Marvel produced adaptations, he always makes time for a cameo in the company’s own world-building efforts. Some have argued that these jokey appearances are perhaps part of something bigger and that Lee is actually playing a Watcher. The Watchers are one of the oldest and most powerful extraterrestrial species in the Marvel universe. They are tasked with observing and recording other species but have a strict policy of non-interference (although Earth’s watcher, Uatu, has broken this when it comes to big bad cosmic threats). Ignoring the fact that Stan Lee’s appearance is about as far away from the bald-headed, cosmic super-beings as you could possibly imagine, Lee’s ‘character’ has directly meddled in affairs in movies like Thor and The Incredible Hulk and is a bit too blatant to be a watcher. Although it’s yet to be seen if the Marvel Universe has big plans for one of its real-life creators, this theory seems to be very, very unlikely in the meantime.