007's dark side and other film fantasies

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Is James Bond more than one man? Who is the real hero of Harry Potter? Fan theories are more than just idle internet gossip. Stephen Kelly looks at how the best of them can add a new dimension to big-screen classics

There's always been something a bit off about that suave, mysterious, sexually charged murderer, James Bond: he appears to be a shape-shifting immortal. Or at least that's what the franchise suggests, what with the same man being played by six different people over 50 years, making for quite the hefty 00-pension. But where pop culture logic is broken, there's a fan theory to fix it. In this case: that James Bond is not a single man, but a code name given to agents who fit a certain profile.

Makes sense, doesn't it? For even if this is a profile to which psychologists refer as the Dark Triad of the psyche – a combination of Machiavellianism, narcissism and a psychopathic disregard for life – each incarnation does come with its own set of characteristics. Sean Connery, for instance, was smooth and deadpan; Geroge Lazenby: clunky and... forgettable; Roger Moore had fun with the role; Timothy Dalton preferred a serious, straight-edged approach; cigar-smoking Piers Brosnan played it rugged and old-fashioned; whereas Daniel Craig, moonlighting from his full-time job of protruding out of Mount Rushmore, portrays a more tortured, layered Bond.

Director Lee Tamahori briefly considered legitimising the theory in 2002 by having Sean Connery make a cameo in Die Another Day – an idea presumably vetoed on the basis of it being awful. In Skyfall, however, Sam Mendes goes in the opposite direction: controversially exploring Bond's past in such a way that we're in no doubt as to whether this is the same one man we've followed for the last 50 years. And thus he destroys the theory for good. Given the brooding, introspective tone of the new era, this feels inevitable, but also a bit of a shame. Not only did the theory add a sense of plausibility to the concept, it gave the character depth and made it far more interesting than a mere blank canvas for masculine fantasy.

Still, that's the beauty of fan theories. Starting out in the deepest, darkest sinkholes of the internet (forums and Reddit, basically), most are just idle speculation where reality and reason are snapped to fit a theory. Yet there are those special few that are so wonderfully convincing that they spew forth to become something more...

WHEN THE PLOT THICKENS

1. Star Wars' secret secret agents

Much like "Code Name: James Bond", most theories are aimed at making a story more credible than it actually is – to think around plot holes and fill them with reason. Take Star Wars. Ever since George Lucas insisted on shoving every character possible into his Star Wars prequels, the farce has been strong around the series' logic. Why would the Rebel Alliance wipe the valuable intel of both R2-D2 and C-3PO in Revenge of the Sith? And why doesn't Chewbacca mention to Luke at some point: "You know what? That Yoda guy sure sounds familiar"? The fan theory: R2-D2 and Chewbacca have secretly been rebel agents all along – with the former forgoing a memory wipe to be undercover and the latter secretly being Yoda's eyes and ears. It's certainly better than Lucas's explanation: "Uh, yeah, stuff."

2. DNA test, Forrest! DNA test!

Forrest Gump is given an interesting and sinister undertone once you read the theory that Gump Jr is not really his son, but a desperate ploy by love-interest, Jenny, to take advantage of his shrimp tycoon wealth – something hinted at after she first turns him down and he decides to go on that famous jog to clear his head. It's a harsh, cynical theory, but one that would fit with her self-destructive behaviour.

3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is nothing but a fantasy

This is a popular one. John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off becomes a bizarre mind-melt once you buy into the idea that the fun-loving Ferris is actually, Fight Club-style, all in his long-suffering friend Cameron's head. Not only does this shift the focus on to Cameron's story – one of repressed angst, loneliness and unrequited love for his imaginary friend's girlfriend – but it also explains why he's so wildly erratic. The idea, of course, falls entirely to pieces once you factor in Ferris's sister.

4. Harry Potter isn't the chosen one – Neville Longbottom is

Harry Potter is built upon the idea that the boy-wizard is the chosen one – but what if the prophecy was actually about another lovable geek? Both "thrice-defying" Voldemort and both born "as the seventh month dies", the theory goes that Harry was merely a ruse on Dumbledore's part to protect the real star, Neville Longbottom, who went on to play a vital part in the Dark Lord's death. That theory was, naturally, shot down by J K Rowling.

5. Willy Wonka and the Murder Factory

"A drug-crazed lunatic slowly kills children in front of their parents one by one." This is the adorable online synopsis of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that, thanks to Reddit, recently went viral. Fans are speculating that the clues lie in the props. After Augustus is sucked into chocolate oblivion, they board a boat with two seats too few, suggesting there was prior knowledge Wonka would "lose" two participants. The same goes for the four-seated car they drive later on. Why does he do this?

6. The Tarantino verse

Fans have long made links between the films of Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs' Vic Vega and Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega being brothers is a notorious one), but there's an even bigger idea that ties all of his films together. Reading deeply into the chronology, themes and character connections of each one (such as Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz fathering True Romance's Lee Donowitz, for example), fans have created their own Tarantino-verse where the brutal cinema killing of Hitler in Inglourious Basterds has created a society that is not only desensitised to violence, but places more cultural importance on film.

This article appears in the 27 October print edition of The Independent's Radar magazine

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high