This is the 14th post in a daily series. Read about it here and see the list of previous posts here. A new post about “Star Wars” will be posted every day for 40 days leading up to the franchise’s 40th birthday on May 25th.
In 2015, a Reddit user named Lumpawarroo painstakingly laid out a theory that Jar Jar Binks was was not just misunderstood, but a Force user unmatched in his abilities. From the introduction to Lumpawarroo’s essay:
…Jar Jar Binks, far from being simply the bumbling idiot he portrays himself as, is in fact a highly skilled force user in terms of martial ability and mind control.
Furthermore, I assert that he was not, as many people assume, just an unwitting political tool manipulated by Palpatine– rather, he and Palpatine were likely in collaboration from the very beginning, and it’s entirely possible that Palpatine was a subordinate underling to Binks throughout both trilogies.
Lumpawarroo argued that Jar Jar was not clumsy, but rather intentionally modeled after the King Fu discipline of Zui Quan, which is also called Drunken Fist. Lumpawarroo theorized that Jar Jar’s hand-waving was a form of Jedi mind trick, and that his ability to get through battles unscathed was because he was tapped into the Force.
Many Reddit users embraced the theory, and more than a few think pieces dissected the possibility. Lumpawarroo’s long and involved essay was full of conviction, even if it failed to convince everyone.
But Lumpawarroo was not alone in his attempt to connect Jar Jar to the Sith. A few creative YouTube users uploaded even edited Jar Jar into the trailers for “The Force Awakens,” in some parts replacing Kylo Ren with Jar Jar.
The theory that Snoke has a Jar Jar connection gained traction again when earlier this year, writer Chuck Wendig included Jar Jar in his novel, “Empire’s End.” The book was the third installment in Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, set between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” The fate of Jar Jar seemed bleak: banished by the Gungans, he was forced to wander the streets performing for children as a sad clown. The novel mentioned nothing of Jar Jar being a Force user, but did mention him meeting a “disfigured orphan” whose “scar tissue runs up from his jaw, over the hole that used to be his ear, and to the scalp.” Jar Jar offered to train the child, causing many to say, “Well, duh, it’s totally obvious that scar-faced child was Snoke, and he totes learned how to be an evil Sith from Jar Jar, because obvi.”
In a piece for Slate, Jacob Brogan expressed incredulity at the Darth Jar Jar theories, though he explained what made these ideas appealing, even charming:
Ultimately, the Darth Jar Jar theory tells a story about fan desire. Almost accidentally, Lumpawarroo touches on this very point, writing, “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.” Appropriately, it’s “you”—you the viewer, you the fan—who has to make the change here. We embrace theories like Lumpawarroo’s because we love “Star Wars,” and because we want it to be good. But of course it has always been the fans that have made Star Wars great, perfecting it with their devotion.
Brogan has a point, of course. When we contort ourselves into pretzels to try to prove that Jar Jar is actually trained in the ways of the Force and secretly in collusion with Palpatine, that says more about us than Jar Jar or Palpatine. It demonstrates our inability to admit that maybe, just maybe, George Lucas made a shitty trilogy and the trilogy’s failings were actually failings rather than clever plot twists camouflaged as bad writing.
In an interview for the web series “These Are the Actors You’re Looking For,” Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best hinted that there could be a kernel of truth to the Darth Jar Jar theory:
What I can say about it is – and I kinda said this on Twitter – there’s a lot about it that’s true… There are some things that are not true. Could Jar Jar have evolved into that? I think the answer is yes. Because of the backlash, and rightfully so, Lucasfilm backed off from Jar Jar a lot. But a lot of the influence I put into the character mirrored a lot of what was already in the “Star Wars” universe.
If that seems like an unsatisfying non-answer, that’s because it is. When pressed further, Best coyly deferred, saying, “So, was there an official Darth Jar Jar in the works? That’s really a George Lucas question, I cannot answer that question.”
But Best was willing to posit what Darth Jar Jar might sound like:
Yousa terrified now, right? Mesa too.