Note: Contains spoilers for Jumanji: The Next Level.
You may have missed it, but Jumanji: The Next Level delivered a major change from Welcome to the Jungle with its villain.
It appeared as though Jurgen the Brutal (played by Game of Thrones star Rory McCann) was just another NPC – non-player character – like Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) in the previous movie.
However, Jurgen the Brutal is actually an avatar in the world of Jumanji, being played by a person in the real world and Dwayne Johnson has teased that we’ll meet them in The Next Level sequel.
“Cool plot twist about Jurgan (for those who caught it) is he’s an actual avatar in the game. Meaning – SOMEONE is playing him. But who? That’s the big mystery. In the next Jumanji we’ll find out just who’s been playing the Jurgan the Brute,” he wrote on Instagram.
Now, it could well be that this mystery player is a new character that we haven’t met yet, but a new theory on Reddit suggests that it could be someone we know.
And that someone is none other than Peter Shepherd from the very first movie.
At the end of Jumanji, it’s believed that everyone has forgotten what happened when they played the Jumanji board game, apart from Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) who return to 1969 as children, effectively starting up a new timeline.
There are some fans who believe that Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) remember what happened, but for the purpose of this theory, they have no idea what happens when you play Jumanji.
The theory goes that Peter comes across the Jumanji video game at the high school and after Alex (Colin Hanks) was sucked into the game in 1996, as we saw in Welcome to the Jungle.
Peter starts to play it and his avatar is Jurgen who, at that point, isn’t a villain.
However, as in the first movie, Peter tries to cheat to win the game and escape. The game doesn’t like this and traps him in the game for what, to Peter, could feel like decades as we know the game can play around with time (Alex thinks he’s only been there for a few months).
During this time, Peter begins to forget who he is and his time in the game sees his avatar morph into the villain we meet in The Next Level.
While Peter is stuck in the game, his family assume the worst. The theory suggests this is why his aunt Nora (Bebe Neuwirth) moved to Brantford and bought the restaurant from Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Milo (Danny Glover), all to be close to her family.
This theory could also play out with Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst) instead – especially if the franchise wanted to add a more recognisable star.
However, the rules of the Jumanji universe seems to suggest if you escape the game, you go back to when you were sucked in and continue to live your life. So it’d require another big time jump – or some clever twist – to have an adult Kirsten Dunst pop-up.
Now, sure, this is pretty speculative and not really based on anything we’ve seen in the movies to date.
But given the return of Nora in The Next Level, you can’t dismiss the idea that the next Jumanji movie could bring back more original characters. By setting up this Jurgen mystery, what better way to resolve it than to be one of the children from the first movie?
A sequel to The Next Level has yet to be confirmed, but given it’s already taken almost $500 million worldwide after three weeks of release, it’d be a surprise if Sony decided not to continue this hugely popular franchise.
The credits scene brought the video game into the real world, setting up an intriguing direction for the next movie, a blend of the original movie and the video game approach of the newer movies.
If the fourth Jumanji movie wants to be the final one that brings the whole series together, they could do a lot worse than making Peter the overall Big Bad.
Jumanji: The Next Level is out now.
Digital Spy now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.
Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit ‘Like’ on our Digital Spy Facebook page and ‘Follow’ on our @digitalspy Instagram and Twitter accounts.