ByJames Moreing, writer at
Open to all things
James Moreing

All stories have their villains, and all good storytellers know that the plot relies on that villain's ability to scare the pants off their audience. We could go into some long tangents about Joseph Campbell, George Lucas and Carl Jung's thoughts on mysticism and human individuation, however the simple fact of life is that the antagonist provides the obstacle for our heroes to overcome. (The Yin to our Yang, so to speak.)

The greater the challenge, the greater the rewards of success, and for the viewer, a far more intense viewing experience. That said, you can tell where I am going with this: Kylo Ren (Nero-Lyk) is THE most important figure in this new trilogy. Aside from Ian McDarmid's wonderful but scarcely showcased embodiment of Palpatine, the prequel trilogy lacked a central villain to symbolize the "unstoppable force" to our hero's "immovable object." Or vise versa; see what I did there? Aside from Sidious, the PT villains were quickly wasted instead of accumulating into an ultimate culmination of Good vs Evil. The dynamics & character development simply weren't there & that lack of a pressing threat did not do the earlier installments any favors. Not to mention that god awful dialogue haha. Don't worry, we're done talking prequels. In this new trilogy i'm confident that we will see a return to the classic character format & with it, a villain that really works. Now in order to bring with him the same gravitas Vader did, Ren must be this generation's incarnation of dogmatic fervor, zealotry and brutality, to give the audience that sense of danger to their own cultural values.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that he must be compelling enough to keep movie/myth goers invested throughout this new saga, and despite the risk here, I believe he will be. Here's why: ever since I saw that first teaser of him stomping around in the snow, I noticed a few obvious themes playing at his character. First was his tattered garb and his intimidating stalk towards an unseen threat. The otherwise empty shot makes his reasons unknown to us & consequently, shows us his menace.

Portrait of a Knights Templar, 1300
Portrait of a Knights Templar, 1300

The first thing that popped into my mind was - no, not Revan - but that this guy is a Templar! His hooded tunic and wrapped grieves are there to inform you that this persona is devoted to some order, and in this case, we now know it is called The First Order. Secondly, it was made certain when his cross-guard/great-sword saber fired up and removed all doubt that he is in fact some type of medieval themed crusader. ( it just me or do things like good/evil castles, the catapult, black knights, chrome troopers & the abruptly named Excalibur lightsaber suggest more OT Arthurian Mythos as well?). Now I do think that there is a Revan connection only as far as both of these characters are meant to portray crusader types. Where as Revan left & founded his own order to fight against the Mandalorian "hordes," Kylo leads The First Order & its war against The Resistance. Both of these are very much symbolic of the Anglo & Frank Crusade Wars waged against the Muslims, who were also referred to as the infidelic "hordes." Coincidence, I think not.

Kylo Ren's crossguard saber
Kylo Ren's crossguard saber

The recently leaked plot synopsis of Star Wars The Force Awakens: “When a ruthless prince rises to power and threatens galactic peace, a runaway soldier, an uncongenial scavenger, and a hot shot pilot find their fates intertwined as they embark on a journey to find the most powerful warrior in the galaxy.”

Piecing together a little bit of what we know as the plot, we can infer that this man is meant to represent the Arthurian Black Knight on a holy mission to claim for himself the 'holy grail' of his kingdom. Namely, Vader's old lightsaber. This is a great way to infuse those original religious & Arthurian themes back into Star Wars, but this time, even more so on the nose. My guess is that Kylo fashions himself as a conqueror, a prince and a 'Führer' after the likes of Napoleon and Hitler. I say this because, as I likened his crusade to the holy grail, it is equally representative of the two former dictator's historical habit of seizing the Spear of Destiny and declaring their own 'divine providence.' Napoleon even crowned himself Pope! Many believe that this spear that pierced Jesus holds mystical psychological power that obeys the will of one who posses it, though we will have to wait and see what tangible benefit 'Excalibur' provides, and why our warrior monk wants it so badly.

The Arthurian 'Black Knight,' offers us more clues.
The Arthurian 'Black Knight,' offers us more clues.

A little on Ren's personality. He is not Vader no matter how much he may strive to be. Ren is a new villain, a copy cat that undergoes a metamorphosis into something new & terrifying in the process of masquerading as Vader. By the time he realizes his own potential & is disenfranchised with Vader as it was ultimately him who was responsible for the Empire's fall, he may even be worse! Regarding his appearance, I do like the fact that Ren has a mask but only selectively uses it. His shroud is a symbol meant to inspire fear in those who would doubt him & I feel they will dive into the topics of both shadow projection & identity crisis. Notice the reflections in his helmet are much like a Rorschach test & his unsymmetrical helm suggests he crafted it himself. Ren is part of a generation that followed the OT (As well as the generation that grew up watching it) & through him we will see escalation & a wild rage for those that oppose his self identity. He will not be as collected as Vader was. I believe......Spoilers..........he is meant to represent the child who doesn't accept his own depraved circumstances & is damaged by his own broken home. (Mr & Mrs Solo, if you know what I mean) This is meant to give real depth to Kylo Ren as the majority of children today now come out of divorced families. A nice way to relate real world issues to the story's conflict while simultaneously making the audience sympathize with the villain.

I believe that J.J. is attempting to give us our own 'mad-dog' like threat in Kylo, that will stop at nothing to achieve his own 'divine' rule. He truly believes he was born for this role and would sacrifice his humanity to elevate his ego. This is exactly what Star Wars needs and exactly what will renew in us the ancient argument of defining the 'self,' as well as the conflict of the state vs the individual. Yes, Star Wars was always political you just never realized it. Haha, but I digress, while I am supremely excited to see Adam Driver bring this religious and political zealot alive, I have faith that Kasdan and Abrams have given us a worthy opponent in Kylo. As for me, in Kylo Ren I have no lack of faith... for he will be most disturbing.

If this intrigues you, you can find more of my speculation on The Force Awaken & Kylo Ren in my new post. See the link I've posted in the comment section & most of all, thank you for reading!,manual,manual,manual


Do you agree with my analysis of Kylo Ren? If not, post your thoughts below.


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