Have you felt it? [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) has finally been released, fulfilling fan hopes and brilliantly setting up the rest of the saga. We've got our plucky new heroes and brand new foes for them to face in the form of Kylo Ren and the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke. Quickly becoming iconic, Kylo Ren captured the minds of many fans before Star Wars 7 was even released. And now it seems he's a far better (or worse) villain than we ever imagined...
Spoiler warning: warning, spoilers! Now's the time to make the jump to hyperspace if you haven't seen the movie yet.
So can Kylo Ren live up to Darth Vader's legacy? It turns out yes, he can, and he's already far more interesting than Anakin Skywalker...
Continuing The Legacy
Now that The Force Awakens has been released, we have the answers to some questions about Kylo Ren's characterisation. He's the son of Han and Leia, he betrayed Luke Skywalker, and he's obsessed with continuing Darth Vader's mission (whatever that may be). He wants to be a big damn villain but crucially, he isn't one yet.
That's the glorious thing about Kylo Ren's characterisation: right now he has all the potential to become the greatest villain the Star Wars franchise has ever known. He isn't yet, but after killing the much-loved Han Solo, Kylo Ren is well on his way to being that big bad you just love to hate. JJ Abrams recently told Entertainment Weekly that Han's death was the best way to propel Kylo Ren to the giddy heights of iconic villainy.
"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 fucking bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters."
This really makes a lot of sense, and this move has already ensured that Kylo Ren's journey to villainy is just so much more heart wrenching than Anakin's.
Raising The Stakes
The prequels did have a tricky job ahead of them, that's true. But one of the reasons they never really chimed with fans was because Anakin's journey to the Dark Side just kinda... fell flat.
It's difficult to know where to start when discussing how the prequels kinda failed to do Darth Vader's origin story justice. Essentially, his motivations were all over the place. Anakin was just sort of disgruntled a lot, and then got it into his head that Padme would definitely definitely die because of... a dream. Easily manipulated by Palpatine, Anakin's journey to the Dark Side was complete when he was persuaded by some pretty faulty logic. Just to hammer the point home that Anakin was irredeemable (kinda), he then killed a bunch of kids.
Yeesh. And of course there's this line...
Sigh. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, kills his father in what is definitely one of Star Wars' most tragic and touching moments.
"Can you help me? There's something I have to do, but I don't think I have the strength to do it..."
Of course, Kylo Ren still has a ways to go before he becomes a villain to rival Vader.
Potential Is Everything
So far he's still following orders from Snoke, and while Darth Vader was essentially the Emperor's puppet, it would be nice to see Kylo Ren become something more. His backstory and motivation still has to be sorted out, something Star Wars Episode 8 will no doubt reveal as Snoke promises to complete Kylo Ren's training.
Ultimately, Star Wars 7 wasn't meant to give us a villain to rival Darth Vader, but rather to reveal one that could, one day, surpass the iconic figure he reveres.
"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."
As Rey masters her Force powers, so will Kylo Ren, and we have a story which shows them both racing to become the best they can be, before they inevitably confront each other again. Episode 8 will be fantastic, guys.
But back to the point: is Kylo Ren better than Darth Vader? Not yet, but after killing Han Solo, and with a clear character development path, he could become a better villain. Is he more interesting than Anakin, though? Almost definitely.