It'll be difficult to write this piece without including spoilers, so you can expect a few big ones ahead
By this point many of us have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and know the biggest surprises the movie has in store for audiences. For example, we now know that Kylo Ren is Han and Leia's son, Ben Solo, who was seduced by the Dark Side of the force due to the influence of Supreme Leader Snoke.
Moreover, we've seen the harrowing moment where Kylo, confused and tortured, drives a lightsaber through his father's chest. Despite being horrific for your average Solo fan, this scene was exemplary! We see a tortured young advocate of the Dark Side struggling with the Light: it really is a nice new take on things.
This scene might tug on the heart strings and be visually stimulating, but did it have to happen? According to director, J. J. Abrams -- yes, in fact he thinks Han Solo's murder was an essential aspect of the movie.
So, what exactly did Abrams say? Well, during a post-screening at Q&A Writers Guild of America Abrams said the following:
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing? We knew we needed to do something f—king bold."
He has a point. Adam Driver has been criticized for his role as Kylo Ren, but he's trying to fill to shoes of the biggest sci-fi villain of all time!
"The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters."
So according to Abrams, Kylo Ren needed to kill a beloved character in order to truly become a villain, or at least take a leap towards it. Abrams continues by saying:
"Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain - and not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process."
Perhaps that's why people are struggling to see Kylo as on par with Darth Vader, who was a veteran villain. Kylo's not the villain of the story, not yet; right now he's being corrupted and struggling with the Light.
"As a father, as a friend to people who have children, I know what it’s like to see struggle, to be part of struggle. I know how painful it can be. I know how real it is. And this is, of course, an insane extrapolated version. It’s this massive tradeoff: how can we possibly do that!?"
You might ask why Han Solo had to die and why he needed to be murdered by his son; well Abrams makes it clear: because it needed to be real! We needed to see a troubled son decide that his only choice was to murder his father, who just happens to be a Star Wars icon. Abrams then finishes by saying:
But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
Why did Kylo have to kill Han? It's simple: it gave the movie a strong sense of depth and realism that made it believable for the audience.
Interestingly, unlike Anakin Skywalker, who fell to the Dark Side hard and fast in Revenge of the Sith, we're seeing a genuine process of self-discovery as Kylo chooses the Dark Side.
But what do you think?
Have another look at the trailer!
Do you think Kylo Ren killing Han Solo was the right choice for the movie? (Remember to let me know in the comments!)