WMG / Looper

    What is the Rainmaker 
Nothing has changed, Joe is an idiot.

The idea of the Rainmaker as a Stable Time Loop makes no sense. We know that Bruce Willis killed his future self, so his future self didn't go after the Rainmaker, and HE STILL BECAME THE RAINMAKER! The only event that's happened that MIGHT prevent that future is that Sarah is now aware of the possibility, and will try even harder to raise him right...but, she was already trying to raise him right, so I don't know how much difference "try harder" will make...
  • The answer to this is actually really simple. He's no longer set on the path to become the Rainmaker, because Young Joe spent time at the house, and taught Cid to love his mother just a bit more, as evidenced when Sid screams "Mom!" instead of Sarah, and how he lets her kiss him goodnight.
    • Also alluded to by Word of God. Cid and Sarah didn't have the best relationship, and Cid alone, by himself almost killed Sarah on accident because he couldn't hold his temper. Where would the situation have gone if Joe hadn't shown up to force the situation of Sarah finally reaching Cid through his TK rage? He probably would have killed her just like he killed his aunt, and ended up the Rainmaker closing loops just because he didn't need Loopers any more. We saw that it happened with Joe not in the picture the first time around. Since he showed up, he was a stabilizing force for Cid to look up to, he took some of the pressure off Sarah, he got Cid to open up and he showed Cid what true sacrifice was. Not to mention helping Sarah finally get through to Cid about his gift. It might not change what happens next, but you can't deny that Joe's influence, plus all the money he left Cid and Sarah are going to be big factors in Cid's life. And knowing his mother is willing to die for him even though he told her numerous times that he hated her and she wasn't his mother? That's pretty powerful motivation for change. At the very least, his life is going to be a lot more sheltered and a lot more stable.
    • The original backstory for the Rainmaker was never meant to be a Stable Time Loop; Old Joe's actions would simply have made it that way, ensuring it happened over and over again instead of by chance. The original timeline probably involved a completely different looper shooting Sara (or Cid's unnamed aunt) for completely different reasons, and Old Joe's actions almost causing the same thing are likely an attempt by the universe to stabilize itself.

The Rainmaker in the first loop.
Naturally, spoilers past this point.

The main page wonders a few times how Cid became the Rainmaker in the future if Old Joe wasn't around to kill Sarah. And it does seem like Sarah's a pretty good mother even before the Joes intervene, and it's unrealistic to think that she wouldn't eventually tell him that she's his real mother, though she'd probably wait until he was older and mature enough to handle it. But recall that Old Seth said that the Rainmaker appeared out of nowhere about 6 months ago relatively speaking, and Sarah said Cid was 10, leaving him 30 years to grow into what we can assume is Neo-Hitler. Presumably (and this is pure extrapolation) he saw that Humans Are Bastards and decided to kill them all. The possibility of Cid becoming the Rainmaker is still around, but Joe's sacrifice could at least inspire him to be a bit more benevolent about it.

  • She lied about his age. Cid is a toddler/younger child. Hence the toddler toys and thick crowns. Plus *Sippy cup* Those are outgrown by five at the latest, no way would there be a sippy cup at age ten o.O
    • She definitely lied about his age—he's five, as evidenced by the hospital number indicating he was born in 2039 when the main plot of the movie takes place in 2044.

  • She probably still died. '40s Kansas doesn't look like a particularly safe place to live, and as established in the film, she is reticent to shoot people. Plus, if Cid's in the mix as well, there is a pretty good chance of the situation going all chunky salsa. So then we have a dangerously unstable telekinetic wandering the badlands with the power to instantly kill witnesses, and a hatred of crime/vagrants. With even a little training, he can write his own check. If he can take power and kill the people he hates, Old Joe's life unfolds as it should. Then the Rainmaker decides to get rid of time travel, per the Evil Overlord List, but Old Joe nixes that.

    • Though, the mounds of silver left on the farm by the Joes at the end of the film might have contributed to Cid and Sarah finding a better/safer life in the new time loop.

Seth is Cid's father.

Seth fully believes that women are really into his TK (despite Joe telling him otherwise); Sarah makes a point of mentioning that she would use her own TK to suppress men's when they tried to hit on her, and that one of them burst a blood vessel in his eye trying to lift a quarter, which sounds fully in line with something someone as impetuous and frantic as Seth would do. But more importantly, it's assumed that Sarah's TK is unusual to find, especially in a woman. If she slept with someone else with TK, it would definitely explain why Cid is so super-powered: he got TK from both parents.
  • Sarah mentions that she used to be something of a party girl in the city and knows what Loopers are, so it makes sense that they would have frequented the same few bars.

The Rainmaker is closing all the loops in the future...

...because the film's present era (2040s) will soon develop the 'tracking' technology that detects murder and dead bodies. Once that's invented, the program's no good to anyone.

The Rainmaker was using time travel to enhance his telekinesis mutation.
The effects of time travel and telekinesis both appeared at roughly the same point in history - the 2040s. This is because time-travel has the side effect of warping certain people's minds, because of quantum. Rainmaker, and possibly other people, have manipulated the Timey-Wimey Ball to advance his mutation, and make him a powerful psychic. The 'trackers making murder impossible in the future' are just a cover story. In the 2070s, certain people have to be sent back in time for the effects to be generated in the 2040s. That's why Old Joe is sent back but his Chinese wife is murdered on the spot in 2074. The Loopers are a handy way of making sure that whoever is sent back doesn't talk, and their job is still pretty much as it appears in the movie. Once the Rainmaker is satisfied that the effects have been generated, he wraps up the time travel business to ensure no further interference in his rise to power. Most of the mafia story is just bullshit, although Abe did use it, and some business savvy/unrelenting violence, to carve a nice niche for himself in the 2040s.

In the timeline where Joe shot Old!Joe, Cid killed his mother.

The Rainmaker is closing all the loops because remembers his mom being killed by a looper.
He just isn't sure which one, so he is getting revenge and trying to kill all of them.
  • This is pretty much confirmed in-universe, or at least heavily implied - he "saw his mom get shot" and "started closing loops like nothing else." These facts are most likely related, even without speculation.

The Rainmaker is closing all the loops because he wants to save his mother.
Cid spies on Joe and Sarah, and finds out Old Joe is a looper from the future. But he misses the discussion where Sarah says he knows Old Joe is a future version of Young Joe, so he doesn't know who Old Joe is. When Sarah dies while protecting him, Cid realizes Sarah loved him after all. After this Cid becomes obsessed with the idea of saving his mom, at any cost. But he doesn't know who his mom's killer was, and he didn't even get a good look of his face. All he knows is that Old Joe is a hitman from the future who used to work for a criminal organization. So he figures out the only way he can stop this hitman from killing his mom is to take over the criminal organization and eliminate all the time-traveling hitmen, which he does, thus becoming the Rainmaker. While he doesn't know it, Cid has become just like Old Joe: they're both willing to ruthlessly kill people in order to change the past and save a loved one (Joe's wife/Cid's mom). This also creates a Stable Time Loop: Old Joe tries to kill Cid because Cid caused his wife to die, which happened because Cid was trying to stop Old Joe from killing his mom, which happened because Old Joe was trying to kill Cid... The loop is only broken because of Young Joe's actions.

The Rainmaker is the good guy.
In the future, those organized crime people control ALMOST EVERYTHING... including the media. The Rainmaker is making inroads into that - his powers help him tell who's really good and who's really bad. The "innocents" reported killed actually weren't very innocent. The hospitals destroyed were a front for nefarious activities. Any children killed - that's an enhancement by the crime-controlled media. Of course then Joe goes and changes everything. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.

Alternately, the Rainmaker directed attention towards Cid's birth date because he's really...
...Cid's real father!

The Rainmaker is closing all the loops because the future is about to upgrade its tracking technology.
Because when you develop technology to stop all murders but you subsequently get a string of people being kidnapped and then vanishing without a trace, it's time to apply a patch. Once that happens, dealing with Loopers becomes totally impractical. So it's 'now or never' time for the mob.

The Rainmaker will have a younger sibling which will be good for his personality.
Not only did Joe help the Rainmaker keep his mother, but he got Sarah pregnant. Having and caring for a younger sibling gives a greater desire to master his own powers, thus making him a better person.

The Rainmaker sent Joe back to the past to wipe out the Mobsters.
He knew that Joe killed his mother, and he wanted revenge on the mobsters that set up the whole Looper system. So he started closing up all the loops, and as a previous WMG stated, the "innocents" he killed, weren't so innocent. Well, except for Joe's wife, who he had killed to start the whole Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Taking out Abe and his gang was part of the plan all along. Abe more than likely decided to go back to the past because the Rainmaker was hunting down all the bosses in the future.

In the intervening years between Sara's death and him becoming the Rainmaker, Cid becomes a looper himself for his future self who is sending back loopers and other people who might stop his plans.
There's a 30 year span between the events of the film and Rainmaker 'suddenly' appearing. So perhaps Cid, incognito, allows himself to be recruited as a looper. In the future, he sends loopers back to himself to kill them out of revenge. This is also how he's able to come out of nowhere to take over organized crime - he already know how it worked from the inside and had already manipulated things so that obstacles were already taken care of.

Cid created the looper program
In the timeline where he becomes Rainmaker, he realizes that he needs to eliminate loopers and criminals. But that's too difficult by himself (he's only so powerful and if you get a 10,000 strong army, a lucky shot will happen). So he sets up the looper program with a fake requirement that loopers must kill themselves. This is to ensure that his targets take themselves out in the timeframe he needs (Rainmaker's present when he's actually around). The victims are other criminals (hence the hood to avoid suspicion). This is also because he realizes that to avoid organized crime from stopping him before he has his powerbase and to ensure that his plan actually works, he has to create the looper program and cultivate it (not realizing that it's what caused his issues to begin with).

Cid is a male diclonius

His mother, being a person with an actual soul, decided to love him unconditionally despite his appearence, but smartly decided to cut the latter off and dye his hair to avoid Kids Are Cruel. As a result, his human-hating instincts didn't activate...until Old Joe killed his mom, which caused him to suffer a Freak Out! and declare revenge against the only person who truly cared for him. Hence, he became the Rainmaker.

Looper takes place in the same universe as Chronicle.

The alien artifact that gives the boys in Chronicle their telekinesis might not have been the only one of its kind. The three boys got such powerful telekinesis because they were so close to it, but if one was buried near a population centre, maybe limited proximity gives you just the ability to levitate quarters and such. This could also explain why Cid turned out so powerful: His father (or grandfather) may have been Matt, and apparently two TK bloodlines mixing amplifies the power.

Abe is Kid Blue from the future.

Abe is from the future, and we see the younger version of everyone else sent back from the future (Seth, Joe). Abe and Kid Blue have similar hairstyles, both speak with Southern accents, and the ages match up. More to the point, after Old Joe pulls Young Joe away from his apartment he calls him a "stupid little shit." That's the same thing Abe calls Kid Blue in the very next scene. And since Abe died before Kid Blue, we never get to see if he would have vanished like Old Joe. Also, why would Abe keep around a screw up (who also looked up to him) if he was some nobody? The only real evidence against this is the hammer scene, but we don't know how prosthetics and medicine are in 2074. Rian Johnson says that he loves the theory, and that there is a deleted scene that deals with it in some way.
  • A few cut scenes show that Abe puts a hit on Kid Blue after his mess up at the diner, so I think it's safe to say that, while it's possible in the final product, it wasn't originally Johnson's intention.
    • Although if that had been kept in, it could be easily explained: Abe is sensing that the situation is growing steadily worse. He's putting the hit out as insurance; if Kid Blue does his job right and finds Joe, everything is saved and he can take a breather. If Kid Blue fucks up, he'd rather be erased from history than have to face up to the awful things that his bosses will do to him for fucking up. You think Seth had it bad? Imagining the Doc cutting bits off your younger self in front of you...
    • There are two deleted scenes related to this; first Kid Blue is literally being dragged out the back of the club and down an alley by another Gat Man. Kid recognizes the spot as where fuckups are taken to be executed, and escapes after killing the other Gat Man with a holdout pistol in his boot. At this point Abe is absolutely sure Kid will be taken out the back and killed, sadly debunking the idea they are the same person. Much like Old Joe, Abe would only remember if Kid managed to escape after he did it.The second deleted scene involves Kid hiding out in a police cruiser and interrogating the officer about Joe when he returns; the officer apparently knows Kid and tells him Abe has put a significant bounty on his head. Before he's even finished trying to claim he'd never turn Kid over, Kid blows his head off.
    • While I personally think Abe = Old Blue is unlikely, the movie's inconsistent depiction of the physical link between a person's young and old self provides conflicting evidence that can go both ways. Abe doesn't react at all to breaking Kid Blue's hand (not to mention he does it without hesitation) or the bullet he receives courtesy of Old Joe. Old Seth doesn't feel any pain from losing his fingers either - just horror and grim realization. This conflicts with the fact that Old Joe very clearly feels pain on both occasions Young Joe gets shot. So, is Abe's lack of reaction proof he's not Old Blue, or inconsistency on the movie's part? You decide.

How the Time-Travel in Looper Works
I've read everything Rian Johnson has said on the plot. This is how Time Travel works in the Looper universe, and why the plot makes sense:

1)The first thing you have to understand is that Old!Joe and Young!Joe are NOT, in fact the same person. They are similar iterations of the same entity from two different timelines. Every time you travel back in time in the Looperverse, you create a different strand of time. Similar, but with minor differences. Butterfly effects, and all that.

2) Why do Old!Loopers accrue the damage taken on by their younger counterparts? It is, according to Rian Johnson, the universe's feeble attempts to correct paradox. Thus, when you stab the eye out of a young looper and the Old!Looper loses an eye - it's not because you've literally changed the timeline of the Old!Looper so that he's always had a missing eye - it's the universe imposing the paradox on the Old!Looper as they exist NOW in the current timeline. So Old!Seth experiences bodyparts being removed from Young!Seth, but the fridge logic of how did Old!Seth run away if he didn't have freaking legs doesn't kick in. Old!Seth DID have legs. But the timestream is attempting to resolve a paradox by removing them when Young!Seth's are removed.

3) This is why Old!Joe doesn't change in attitude towards Cid and Sara even though Young!Joe has bonded with them. Its also why Old!Joe retains memories of the last bits of his life despite the fact that Young!Joe's actions should have put him on a different life path. Old!Joe's timeline and past remains unchanged, but he has some of the memories and scars of this Young!Joe because it is history trying to resolve a paradox. You can't change the past, but the universe will attempt to resolve paradox by imposing physical and mental changes on an Old!Looper. When Young!Joe commits suicide, this doesn't erase the events of the movie. It just causes Old!Joe to die because the universe resolves the paradox by making Old!Joe superficially match what has happened to Young!Joe.

4) You may notice the funniest part of this: Loopers are completely superfluous. When you send someone back, they end up on a completely different timestream with absolutely no way of returning. There is no way they can affect you anymore. Only Abe insists that there is one timeline, and he's making money off the operation. The mob of the future is literally sending tons of gold and silver back in time and into essentially other dimensions for no reason. Why? Because they're dumb mobsters who stole a time machine, not scientists.

  • If nothing else, even if they (Joe) were in separate timelines, by traveling back and now existing in the same timeline, they, from the moment that Old!Joe first arrived, became the same person. That moment of arrival is what binds them together - up until then, they're separate.

The Loopers lead to the creation of the murder-detection technology that makes them necessary in the first place.
Joe mentions that they "aren't the most forward-thinking people," it's entirely feasible that several Loopers did a poor job of disposing of the bodies. And the future mob is sending all of their hits back in time to the loopers, there's no way that Kansas City is the only operation. Dozens, if not hundreds, of unaccounted for dead bodies, filled with buckshot, showing up all over the country, clearly shoddily attempted to be disposed of? It would make perfect sense for the government to develop technology to attempt to bring these random murders under control.

Cid is not the Rainmaker.
I mean, the guy who gave Future!Joe the code might have been wrong. You can't take any information for granted. And as for Future!Joe's disappearance after Present!Joe kills himself, isn't it fundamentally because his past self is dead rather than having anything to do the Rainmaker's (non-)existence? After all, the story would've been more complicated had the Rainmaker been Cid. If s/he really is Cid, then Future!Loopers wouldn't have been sent back, Present!Joe wouldn't have met Future!Joe, and all this wouldn't have happened. Then Cid wouldn't have met both Joes and probably lived as normally as possible, resulting in him not becoming evil, which would make Future!Joe's return to the present timeline improbable.

Cid is actually/also the inventor of time travel.
He seemed to show hints of Child Prodigy on top of the TK skills.

The "tracking technology" of the future is similar to the precogs in Minority Report
Hence kidnapping doesn't show up, but murder does. Joe's wife is only shot by accident (they thought she was holding a gun, not a trowel), so it wasn't premeditated. They set the house on fire to throw off the authorities.
  • Aha! And Minority Report happens in 2054, ten years after this film is set!
  • This is now my head canon!

Cid IS the "Tracking technology" the crime bosses are trying to avoid.
His powers enable him to tell when people are killed and stop it. Time travel gets around that. This is why he's taking out the Loopers - after they're all gone he destroys the machines. He still has to send the Loopers back, because then the past would realize something's fishy.

The Mob keeps sending people back to the same time period.
Whatever the economic situation of the United States is in 2044, the odds are good it changes eventually for better or worse. For those in the future looking at history, there is a window of time where Kansas in 2044 is the perfect place to run a major criminal syndicate. The future mob doesn't necessarily have to send people back precisely 30 years, they could send them back 30 years, or 50 years or 200 years to any location on Earth.

Kansas 2044 represents a golden era where a criminal syndicate can operate in some measure of peace with enough vices to keep the Looper operation occupied and secret. It also has enough history and rule of law so the Mob knows everything that SHOULD happen in Kansas 2044 so the Loopers can move in without disrupting the timeline. By the time the economy or political climate changes to make this operation impractical, the loops are closed and another person like Abe is sent back to resume business.

Looper takes place in the same universe as Star Trek.
They have time travel, and they have hover bikes. They have huge cities, surrounded by farmland. The gangs controlling everything? They're the reason Earth has the Eugenics Wars. Khan Noonian Singh was, like the Rainmaker, probably another TK mutant. The TK virus was an attempt to genetically engineer a race of supermen; hence Young Joe's statement about "superheroes".

Time Travel was developed and outlawed around the same time children with powerful reality warping abilities started turning, with only a few criminal syndicate types making use of it. Given the limited understanding and control they seem to have of it, it seems likely it was the result of a chance discovery of a child with the right TK abilities.

While we do briefly see an actual technological time machine in 2074, this doesn't discount the possibility of there being a small child entombed inside of it.

Time Travel caused the TK children
Due to excessive amounts of time travel back to the "present" of the film, this caused physics to go all wonky in that particular area of time. Thus, children began to mutate due to exposure to radiation that shouldn't even exist on Earth. This could have also happened in several other periods of time, which could explain witches, psychics, poltergeists, perhaps even gods.

Looper is the prequel to 12 Monkeys

Old!Joe wasn't erased at the end - the old adage, energy cannot be destroyed, only transferred. He got caught in the eye of the storm, a storm of horrible changes to time that careless, criminal time travel had caused. When he returned to his own time, the damage to the history of the universe in which he came from was so awful that everyone believed it to be 1997 rather than 2070, and that humanity was destroyed by a virus rather than damages to time. Joe ended up imprisoned below ground - along with all the other criminals who messed with time. Unfortunately, the damage to time also did damage to Old!Joe as well. He was de-aged a few decades and his long-term memory fried, so that he could barely remember any old information, just snippets (e.g., his name starting with a J). The council of scientists below ground clumsily identified him as an obscure ancestor of his and sent him back in time with the knowledge that he had survived it and could do so again. Ultimately, Old!Joe did get sent back in time to die...but was killed in front of his ancestor, James Cole.

Looper is a solo story of Arthur
After Cobb went straight, Arthur was hired to extract information about time-travel technology from the head of its inventor, but said inventor had come prepared with his own team and drew Arthur into an extended fantasy world in limbo, tailor-made to befuddle an Extractor. "Old Joe" is an actor (not unlike Eames) who spent a lifetime preparing for the role as Arthur's doppelgänger. At the last moment, "Young Joe" realised who he really was and what was happening - Cid reminded him not of himself, but of Cobb's children waiting for Cobb to come home. Killing himself, he escaped the dream and got not only what he was looking for, but the time-travel inventor's plans to create a network of "Loopers" using it. By this time, he'd started using a stopwatch as his totem rather than a loaded die - in the dream, the watch still works and is empty, while in reality it's broken and has a pic of his girlfriend in Shanghai.

Time travel in Looper has a similar but relaxed versions of the restrictions in the Terminator Universe

Namely that time travel only works if a live human is sent back in addition to some small amount of cargo directly on his person.

When time travel, was invented the original goal of the Mafia was not to use time travel to dispose of bodies, but to send silver and gold back to manipulate the commodities markets and make a whole lot of money. The need to send a live human and the absence of volunteers for this one way mind scrambling journey made them to decide to kill two birds with one stone. The Loopers are just not told the whole story, but a version where it sounds like their task is what is the most important.

  • What the loopers are told is also to increase their psychological control, if they just hired random mooks to pick up billions of dollars in untraceable currency, there would always be theft problems. Loopers' loyalty seemed to be specially cultivated, with Abe hand picking those he thinks will buy in and be loyal. "Closing one's own loop" becomes a sort of morbid inventive not to steal and to stick with the organization, it is proof positive that even though you have been transporting billions of dollars, they let you live a full 30 or so years with the fruits of your labor.

  • This could also explain why time travel would be outlawed due to the way it inherently involves a human 'sacrifice' of sorts.