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We Finally Know Whether Tenet Is A Secret Inception Sequel

Well, there goes that theory ... maybe.

In a recent conversation with Esquire, John David Washington — star of the upcoming brain-bender Tenet, written and directed by confusing movie connoisseur Christopher Nolan — was asked to address a few fan theories about the film. Perhaps the most compelling of these theories is the one that suggests Tenet is a sneaky follow-up to Nolan's 2010 masterpiece Inception.

Judging by the trailers for Tenet we've seen thus far, it certainly looks like the film will share a few themes and perhaps even plot elements with Nolan's earlier work. Heck, even we have addressed the arguments that Tenet could be a secret sequel to Inception – because while those trailers deliberately leave the film's plot vague, it's not too tough to see how the two movies could be at least tangentially related. 

When the question was posed to Washington, though, the star offered a cheeky response that appeared to throw cold water on the notion. "I'd say [Tenet] is an in-law to Inception," he said. "They're related by marriage. They get together for Thanksgivings, family barbecues, like that kind of thing. Other than that, one lives in Europe, the other one lives in Compton."

If Tenet is Inception's in-law, then what movie did Inception marry? When they get together for those family holidays and events, does time and/or space just start tying itself in knots? And, most importantly: Which movie lives in Europe, and which lives in Compton? We're a little disappointed with Esquire for leaving these burning questions unaddressed.

John David Washington really seems to enjoy shooting down fan theories

Washington was grilled on fan theories for a number of Nolan's other works, and he handled most of those queries with the same winking playfulness. For example, fans have long speculated that Inception is about making movies — that the various characters represent different parties involved in filmmaking, like the director, the production designer, the studio head, and so on. Washington's response: "Who's catering this thing?" He quickly arrived at the conclusion that Professor Miles, Michael Caine's character, was the prime candidate.

Other questions lobbed at Washington during the interview: Is the Joker actually the hero of The Dark Knight? ("This is twisted. The Joker a hero?! That's disgusting!") Are The Prestige, Inception, and Interstellar actually a trilogy? ("They're a trilogy as far as style... they're [Nolan's] babies.") Is the ending of Interstellar the main character's dying dream? ("It starts off with these older, more mature figures in like a documentary form... it didn't feel like... a manifestation of a dream.")

One of the more compelling theories, of course, had to do with Tenet. It posits that Washington's character, the Protagonist, averts a world-ending crisis at the beginning of the movie — which somehow causes him to experience time in reverse, forcing him to untangle the mystery of how to arrive back at where he started. Washington seemed to think it was a pretty juicy theory. His response: "Wow, that is an intelligent theory, that is really though out. I've gotta be honest... WRONG!" He then chuckled and repeated "you've gotta see it!" in a silly, sing-song voice.

We have no problem admitting that this is exactly how we would be handling press if we were starring in Nolan's new movie. Fortunately, there are only about six weeks of pre-speculation left to go before Tenet is released; once we've all seen it, the real speculation can begin. The flick is currently scheduled to hit theaters on July 17, 2020.