Star Wars 1Warning: spoilers ahead. Now that Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens has been out for nearly a month, I would imagine that the majority of Star Wars fans have seen it, but if you happen to be part of the small minority of people who haven’t yet seen the movie and don’t want to encounter spoilers, turn back now. I have seen it twice and want to discuss some of my favorite fan theories. I perhaps owe the internet an apology for not citing sources, but most of these ideas are actually pretty mainstream and easy to find in multiple places if you pay any attention to fan theories at all. There’s nothing here that’s directly lifted from one specific source.

Is Rey Luke’s daughter?

The biggest question raised by the new Star Wars movie is Rey’s identity. All we know for sure about Rey’s backstory is that she was left on the planet Jakku and is awaiting someone’s return. Maz tells her that she knows that the person she’s waiting for will never return, but that someone else might. The flashback that Rey has when she touches Luke’s lightsaber shows her as a young girl, tearfully protesting as someone leaves. Someone else is holding her by the arm, and a voice that resembles Kylo Ren can be heard. That’s enough information to inspire debate, but not enough to give a definite answer. Rey’s other visions could be flashbacks, but they could be insight about the future or about other people.

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter, and after much back and forth, that’s my guess. My main objection to it is actually that it seems too obvious, and I suspect the moviemakers want to spring a surprise on us. But Rey clearly has some kind of connection to Luke’s lightsaber, and the final scene, in which she returns Luke’s lightsaber to him, certainly looks like we’re supposed to view it as a father/daughter moment. The Star Wars franchise is quite fond of dramatic father/son moments, after all.

Star Wars 2 ReyNumerous fans have found hints to support this theory, such as the way Rey’s theme music sounds together with Luke’s, or the fact that she has a fighter helmet with her on Jakku. Then there’s her natural piloting ability, and, of course, the fact that the Force is strong with her, which seems to indicate that at least half of her parentage is Jedi. Considering that she has no Jedi training, it is a surprise that she’s a match for Kylo Ren, who has been trained by both Luke and, presumably, Supreme Leader Snoke, and is consequently well on his way to being a powerful Sith. And her connection with Luke’s lightsaber seems like a dead giveaway. Not to mention the fact that the entire Star Wars movie series is about the Skywalker family, so it only makes sense that the main heroine of the new movie is descended from Luke.

There aren’t many good arguments against it, but I think it still leaves some questions to be answered. For example, who is Rey’s mother? Certain books name Mara Jade as Luke’s wife, and some fans have guessed that the movies are going to go along with that idea, even though Mara Jade doesn’t show up in this movie.  My brother suggested the theory that Rey’s mother is the female Stormtrooper leader who Finn so intensely dislikes, who either turned to the dark side later, or who is acting as an undercover Resistance agent the entire time. I will have to watch the movie a third time in order to determine whether I think that makes sense.

Another question is why Rey doesn’t know she’s Luke’s daughter, and in fact, questions whether Luke and the Jedi are anything more than mythology. In her flashback, she appears old enough to know those kinds of things. So if she is Luke’s daughter, she was evidently separated from him even earlier than that, and it was someone different who left her on Jakku. And that makes me wonder, 1) who was her adoptive/foster family, and 2) why didn’t Luke and her mother raise her themselves?

Is Rey related to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

I thought that this theory was pretty fascinating, and in fact, when I first read it, I was pretty sold on it. The idea was that, while Obi-Wan was on Tatooine for all those years between Episode III and Episode IV, he had a wife and child that we never knew about, and Rey is either is daughter or granddaughter. Some people say that Rey’s father is Luke and her mother is a secret daughter of Obi-Wan. I’ve also seen mentioned the possibility that she is his niece or grand-niece, which I prefer because it doesn’t require Obi-Wan having a wife, which seems unlikely given that he was a hermit and that he never mentioned having family in the original movie. The best argument for this theory that I’ve seen is that Rey’s manner of holding the lightsaber is similar to Obi-Wan’s, although I admit that that’s hardly conclusive, as lightsaber-wielding surely is more influenced by one’s training than by one’s heritage. If Rey fights differently than other Jedi, it’s because she has no formal training, not because of who her father or grandfather is. Probably.

Is Rey Han and Leia’s daughter?

Star Wars 3 Rey and HanThe first time I saw this movie, this was my initial assumption, right up to the moment when Rey met Han Solo and acted as if she’d never met him before and viewed him as a celebrity. Even then, I was trying to piece together some way that it could be possible that she somehow didn’t recognize her own family members. To be honest, the best thing this theory has going for it is that it would be cool, but in my defense, I’m not the only one to have discussed it. Evidently, it does fit nicely with some of the non-canonical Star Wars novels that I haven’t read.

Did Rey have her memory wiped?

This opens up any of the above possibilities for her parentage, and it also opens up the possibility that Rey wasn’t a relative of anyone we’d recognize, but she was one of Luke’s students who survived the attack. Really, you can guess anything you want about Rey’s past if you assume she doesn’t remember anything. But I’m pretty sure Rey does remember who left her on Jakku; after all, she is waiting for someone and she evidently knows who. When Moz tells her that the person she’s waiting for isn’t coming back, but someone else might, that’s a pretty big hint. I just don’t know what that hint is telling us, exactly.

Who is the man in the opening scene?

It seems likely to me that the old man who had the map segment at the beginning of the movie was filling the same role for Rey that Obi-Wan was filling for Luke in the beginning of the original movie. That is, he was posing as a random hermit in order to keep an eye on her from a distance without interacting in her upbringing until she was ready to contribute to the Resistance. That would explain why he would have the map in the first place, especially if Rey is in fact Luke’s daughter. The plan was probably that, once Rey was old enough and skillful enough, he would bring her or send her to Luke, who would then train her as a Jedi. (This idea works even if Luke isn’t her father, as long as he is aware of her existence and the fact that the force is strong with her.) But that doesn’t answer the question of who he is in the first place. The best answer I’ve heard is that he is a rebel pilot from the original trilogy. They aren’t major characters, but they are important to the rebel cause and they are people that Luke would definitely trust.

Who is Finn?

Star Wars FinnAll right, he’s a Stormtrooper who doesn’t have the ruthlessness necessary to carry out the Stormtrooper agenda, I get that. But doesn’t that seem a little odd that there’s exactly one non-conformist Stormtrooper? If that’s even possible for a Stormtrooper to reject his training, wouldn’t it happen at least a few times? Some have wondered whether Finn might be related to Mace Windu from the prequels or Lando Calrissian  from episodes five and six. I don’t think it’s necessary to assume that all black characters in the Star Wars universe have to be linked, but I’m not rejected those possibilities, either. The Lando one seems pretty far-fetched, but the Mace Windu theory would explain why Finn is perfectly capable of wielding a lightsaber, despite having no Jedi training and being (evidently) less strong with the Force than Rey.

Who is Maz Kanata and how did she get Luke’s lightsaber?

Star Wars MazMaybe I missed something, but the only background information I remember getting about Maz is that she’s someone Han Solo knows and that she has connections with the Jedi and the force, even though she isn’t a Jedi herself. J.J. Abrams has been quoted as saying that Maz and Yoda had “at one point crossed paths”, and I had a sense all along that there was something Yoda-like about Maz. But that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The biggest one for me is how Maz ended up with Luke’s lightsaber.

Is Supreme Leader Snoke Darth Vader?

Fan theories include the possibility that the Supreme Leader is Darth Plagueis, a Sith Lord who is mentioned but not shown in earlier movies, or the Emperor, who supposedly died at the end of Return of the Jedi. An idea that I find particularly interesting is that he could be Darth Vader. After all, the scars on his head match those of Darth Vader. Of course, Darth Vader was also supposed to have died, and he became a good guy immediately before dying. I’m actually not a fan of any of the three aforementioned theories, but I don’t have a good alternate idea to suggest. I did read one theory that suggested that he’s actually smaller than human size, since we only see him as a hologram. That’s interesting, but it doesn’t tell us who he is. And one thing is relatively sure: Supreme Leader Snoke is going to turn out to be someone we’ve met before.

What’s the deal with Kylo Ren and Han Solo?

Star Wars 5 Kylo RenWe know that Kylo Ren, originally Ben Solo, is the son of Han and Leia. We know that he was in training under Luke, and that he turned from the dark side and slaughtered all of the other students at Luke’s Jedi academy. And we see him trying to live up to Sith standards and drawing inspiration from his grandfather Darth Vader. (Some have criticized the acting and Kylo Ren’s coolness as a bad guy, but I’m fine with it because he’s clearly a wannabe Darth Vader who hasn’t reached that level of Sith-ness yet. He’s more like Anakin in the end of Episode III than Darth Vader in the original trilogy.) But we don’t know how or why he turned to the dark side in the first place, and I personally have a lot of questions about his relationship with Han Solo. It has even been suggested that Kylo Ren started out as a sort of double agent, joining the dark side in the hopes of getting rid of the Supreme Leader, but quickly becoming completely won over. (I will cite this one back to Reddit user vrso3g, since I have that information available to me and it sounds like this one was an original theory.)

My biggest question is what the deal was in the scene where Kylo Ren kills his father. The first time I saw the movie, I assumed that Han Solo made himself vulnerable with the assumption that Kylo Ren wouldn’t hurt him and the hope that he could convince him to turn back to the light side. But upon discussion with my brother and a second viewing of the movie, I now see Han’s actions as self-sacrificial. In fact, maybe the parallel to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original movie was not just something the moviemakers threw in there; maybe Han Solo himself believed that he was doing for his son (or perhaps Rey and Finn) what Obi-Wan did for Luke.

Who’s alive and who’s dead?

Star Wars 4 PoeWe all know that Kylo Ren survived just because the movie didn’t conclusively eliminate that possibility. I personally think Han Solo is really and truly dead. Really, the only reason I can see to doubt that is because it’s so sad for him to be dead. But the Star Wars franchise has never cared about our feelings before. I love Star Wars, but it’s true. Which brings me to my next point. It was just really weird for Poe Dameron to come back the way he did. It seemed pretty clear that he was dead and pretty unnecessary, in terms of plot, for him to come back. Some fans have suggested the idea that he really is dead, and that the person we think is Poe later is actually a spy disguised as Poe. I’m cool with that theory.

Star Wars droidsThere is, of course, a lot more to be said about all of these theories. This is by no means supposed to be a comprehensive list or a detailed exploration. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments, especially if they’re new and original. I’d love to hear them!