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Forget ‘Bigger Luke,’ the Two Anakins Theory Solves One of Star Wars’ Biggest Enigmas

The Bigger Luke theory turns a technical discrepancy into an outlandish plot thread. But the Two Anakins theory is a little more plausible.

Star Wars fan theories can go to some wild places, adopting all manner of explanations to address offscreen events or onscreen discrepancies. It comes part and parcel with universes as developed as it is, and even the most ludicrous can be part of the fun if taken in the right spirit. The “Bigger Luke” theory, for instance, is one of the wildest and most widespread, explaining away technical discrepancies in Mark Hamill’s eye-line as proof that a second, “bigger” Luke exists in the Star Wars universe. And yet, it’s compelling enough to merit consideration as an intellectual exercise if nothing else.

Now, that theory seems to have spawned a spin-off — the “two Anakins” theory. It claims that the Emperor cloned Anakin, as a way of explaining differences between his character in the live-action movies and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. It’s equally intriguing, just as out-there, and another fun exercise in world-building elasticity. This time, at least, the incongruities it addresses go beyond filmmaking technicalities.

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The theory states that a second “evil” clone of Anakin is created to replace the “good” Anakin who fought in the bulk of the Clone Wars. The Emperor could turn the clone towards the Dark Side as it incubated, leaving it ripe for a full turning after it had matured. Once fully grown, the clone kills and replaces the “good” Anakin between his last appearance in The Clone Wars and the beginning of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He’s programmed to forget his origins and believe he is the original Anakin as he completes his fall to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader.

The two Anakins theory has little direct evidence in its corner, but that is beside the point. In this case, it fits the circumstances better than the Bigger Luke theory and requires fewer logical somersaults to justify. It’s intended to explain the differences in characterization between The Clone Wars and the Prequel Trilogy. Hayden Christensen’s turn as Anakin in Revenge of the Sith bore shades of his performance three years earlier in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, which depicted Anakin as immature, overconfident and petulant at times. The Clone Wars, released well after the prequels, had much more time to develop Anakin as a character, both in terms of onscreen running time and in the actual years that The Clone Wars was on the air. Accordingly, he comes across as more measured, thoughtful and mature, which can come as a shot when shifting from the end of The Clone Wars to Christensen’s angrier and more embittered Anakin.

RELATED: Star Wars: Do Sith Lords Have to Be Evil?

As with Bigger Luke, the reasons come down to narrative reality. The Clone Wars was intended to flesh out characters like Anakin and Obi-Wan in ways that the live-action movies couldn’t, and while George Lucas directed Revenge of the Sith as a continuance of Attack of the Clones, the animated series simply couldn’t stay bound to those smaller changes without doing a grave injustice to the character. The Clone Wars also made no bones about Anakin’s slide towards the Dark Side, rendering the discrepancy limited to mild variations in tone.

However, the theory carries an elegance with it that the Bigger Luke theory lacks, and while the evidence supporting it is purely circumstantial, it doesn’t violate canon. The Emperor’s obsession with cloning has been well-documented, and with a prize like Anakin Skywalker, he could have conceivably hedged his bets by preparing a clone he could more easily manipulate in the event Anakin resisted the Dark Side. Furthermore, as the Reddit post observes, it makes Obi-Wan’s claim that Darth Vader “betrayed and murdered” Anakin the literal truth, whether Kenobi knows it or not.

That elegance helps give the more off-the-wall theories some weight, but more importantly, it demonstrates the flexibility of a property like Star Wars and how readily interesting stories can be spun out of perceived gaps in continuity. Those gaps provide space for creatives like Dave Filoni to expand upon, and theories like the Two Anakins notion follow as a logical extension on a smaller scale. The facts fit, and they let fans look at the universe in an entirely different way.

A native Californian, Robert Vaux has spent over 20 years as a professional film and television critic: working for such outlets as Collider, and The Sci-Fi Movie Page. His favorite superhero is Nightcrawler and his lucky numbers are 4, 9, 14, 16, 36, and 40.

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