Was Star Wars Prequels’ Worst Character Really Its Best Villain?

By Zack Zagranis | Published

george lucas jar jar binks
Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks. Chances are, if you’re a Star Wars fan who didn’t grow up with the prequels, you hate Jar Jar’s guts. But were the goofy Gungun’s incredibly punchable face and grating antics just a cover for his true nefarious purpose? Was Jar Jar Binks secretly a Sith Lord? No, that’s ludicrous.

But there sure are a lot of fans who think otherwise.

For anyone lucky enough not to know who Jar Jar Binks is, he’s a tall, rabbit-eared alien with Mr. Krabs eyes who lives underwater and talks in what is largely considered a problematic voice.

A surprising number of fans hold to the theory that Jar Jar Binks was secretly a Sith Lord, and we give our thoughts on the idea.

When George Lucas set out to make the Star Wars prequels, he apparently got it into his head that what the original trilogy was missing was a bumbling, Goofy-esque buffoon who steps in poop and says, “How wude!” Needless to say, fans didn’t agree.

To say that there was a backlash against Jar Jar is an understatement. Star Wars fans hated Jar Jar Binks so much that it’s a wonder they didn’t take to the streets to riot and burn him in effigy.

It didn’t help that Lucas went all in on the character. There was so much Jar Jar merchandise being shoved in kids’ faces in ’99 that it was hard to escape the doofus—and trust us, people tried.

Star Wars fans rebelled against Jar Jar’s annoying brand of comic relief to such an extent that, at one point, the actor who portrayed the character contemplated suicide. George Lucas must have received the message as well because while Jar Jar could be considered a lead character in The Phantom Menace, he has about five minutes of screen time total in Episodes II and III.

But what if Jar Jar was supposed to be hated? What if he was secretly a Palpatine-level Sith behind the scenes, manipulating things while pretending to be a clumsy oaf?

It sounds preposterous, but that hasn’t stopped a large chunk of the Star Wars fanbase from clinging to the idea that Jar Jar Binks was initially supposed to be some Machiavellian mastermind disguised as a racially insensitive clown shoe.

star wars jar jar
The Phantom Menace: Jar Jar bump into Qui-gon and Obi-wan for the first time, or is it all part of his plan?

Darth Jar Jar. It’s a fan theory that popped up on Reddit in 2015 and has been gaining traction ever since. A Redditor by the name of Lumpawarroo—the name of Chewie’s kid from the Star Wars Holiday Special btw—laid out a long thread detailing a convincing theory that Jar Jar Binks was secretly an evil Sith Lord with several examples to back up his claims.

But most of it comes down to “We refuse to believe that this character was really this bad and need to come up with a convoluted reason for why he was secretly brilliant so we don’t have to admit that St. George just plain screwed the pooch on this one.”

Except that, like with a lot of Star Wars “theories,” most of Lumpawarroo’s examples are just instances of bad writing on Lucas’s part or Jar Jar doing something just because that’s what the director wanted him to do.

One of the main points brought up in the Darth Jar Jar theory involves the character’s unlikely ability to accidentally win battles and escape danger despite being so clumsy he trips over his own feet.

Star Wars fans who subscribe to the Darth Jar Jar theory see this as proof that Binks is secretly using the Force to successfully take down tanks and battle droids despite acting like someone who would repeatedly score on their own goal during a soccer game. That’s a fun theory, but it’s simply not the case.

The Phantom Menace (1999): Jar Jar shocked there are fans who consider him significant.

Jar Jar comes from a long line of bumbling characters like Mr. Magoo or Inspector Gadget, who walk through avoiding harm through blind luck while remaining oblivious to the fact that they were ever in danger. Fans of the theory like to point out that there is no “luck” in the Star Wars universe, as if the only explanation for Jar Jar’s unlikely success could be secret Dark Side powers.

While that is, again, a fun theory, there is a much simpler in-universe explanation for Jar Jar’s impossible triumph in the face of exponentially more capable adversity.

The Force is protecting Jar Jar Binks from harm. Even if characters can’t use the Force, it doesn’t mean that the Force isn’t still looking out for them and occasionally shifting events to help them out.

A great example of this in Star Wars is when blind Force devotee Chirrut walks across a battlefield in Rogue One without getting shot once.

Chirrut isn’t some kind of latent Jedi or anything. He’s just a believer who thinks of the Force like some people think of God or any “higher power.” He trusts it to take care of him and guide him down the right path—exactly what it does for Jar Jar. The Force knows the Gungun has a part to play in the greater Star Wars universe, and so it keeps Jar Jar around until that role can be fulfilled.

“It feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen, no matter how long it takes.”

-Ahmed Best on the Darth Jar Jar theory

There are other things that Star Wars fans point to, like Jar Jar constantly waving his hands around when he talks or the fact that he “manipulates” Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan into letting him tag along with them.

But most of it comes down to “We refuse to believe that this character was really this bad and need to come up with a convoluted reason for why he was secretly brilliant so we don’t have to admit that St. George just plain screwed the pooch on this one.”

Fans like to bring up a cryptic tweet where Ahmed Best seems to confirm the theory as more proof that Darth Jar Jar is a real thing.

The Phantom Menace (1999): Qui-gon reacts to Jar Jar’s “wudeness”… or does he subconsciously sense the bottomless well of his Gungun Sith power?

“It feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen, no matter how long it takes,” Best once tweeted seemingly in regard to the Darth Jar Jar theory. The problem is that Best’s statements feel like an actor trying to justify a role that brought him nothing but depression and stress over the years by alleging now that there was some deep meaning behind the character’s tomfoolery.

It’s as if certain Star Wars fans just can’t accept that Star Wars’ target audience is kids, and George Lucas made Jar Jar a silly clown character to make them happy.

Because when it comes down to it, kids loved Jar Jar Binks. For many fans who were children when The Phantom Menace came out, Jar Jar Binks did exactly what he was supposed to do: entertain them on their own level.

It’s a shame that some Star Wars fans can’t just accept that Jar Jar wasn’t for them and feel the need to make up some elaborate plot about the character being secretly evil just so that they can tolerate him.

Now Obi-Wan being secretly evil, the guy who lied to Luke about his dad and straight up acted like he didn’t know his homie R2D2 when he ran into him on Tattooine, that we’d buy.

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