[Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) was many things: exciting, nostalgic, and moving in equal measures. One of its greatest strengths was definitely the new characters, who were compelling and identifiable. Following the iconic Darth Vader was never an easy task, but the decision to make Kylo Ren a fan of Vader himself was an elegant tongue-in-cheek solution. And honestly, it's one of the best things about the film.
Kylo Ren is obsessed, trying his hardest to become Vader. This seems to form his entire motivation, as he promises to finish what Vader started. But as Abrams reveals, the crucial thing to remember about Kylo Ren is he's not a villain... yet.
Kylo Ren is well on his way to becoming just as despicable a villain as Darth Vader was: he's killed Jedi students already, and he's got the creepy torture routine down. Ultimately though, he's still got a long way to go, and that's exactly what Abrams intended.
Potential Is Everything
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. Abrams discussed the development of Kylo Ren with Entertainment Weekly, revealing how The Force Awakens was supposed to introduce us with a villain still in the making.
"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."
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. But there's one action which solidified Kylo Ren's role as a villain...
Han Solo's Final Stand
Of course, Han Solo's death is one of the biggest moments in The Force Awakens: killing off one of the original Star Wars protagonists was a bold move and one which brought many a fan to tears. But this wasn't just for shock value. As Abrams reveals, it was crucial to Kylo Ren's villain origin story.
"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 definitely made Kylo Ren that big bad we just love to hate. But there's something even more fascinating about Kylo killing Han: it's the exact reversal of Return Of The Jedi's conclusion.
Kylo Ren Wanted To Prove Himself
At the end of Return Of The Jedi, Darth Vader redeems himself by saving his son from the Emperor's wrath. One of the biggest unanswered questions of The Force Awakens was whether Kylo Ren knew this. The official novel revealed that not only did Ren know, Supreme Leader Snoke used this fact to teach him how the Empire failed.
"It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did."
Ren nodded once. "Sentiment."
"Yes. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today."
In all likelihood, Kylo Ren believed that by killing Han Solo he would be proving to Snoke that he would not fail in the way Darth Vader had: while Vader sacrificed himself for Luke, Kylo Ren kills his father in cold blood.
Villainy Or Redemption?
So what are the repercussions of this action? It looks like this could go one of two ways. Either Kylo Ren murdering Han will propel him further into the Dark Side, so that he can truly become a villain to equal Darth Vader. If what Abrams says is true, then this could well be what Lucasfilm are planning to do with the character. That could be great: watching Kylo Ren sink further into his evil ways would make Episode 8 very interesting, and this would also give us the villain origin story the prequels somewhat failed to give Anakin.
However, there is another option. The official script and novel both mention how Kylo Ren feels unexpectedly torn apart by remorse after he kills Han Solo...
Ren mentioned he felt conflicted in The Force Awakens, even telling Han he felt a great pull towards the Light. His guilt could very well tip the scale, and set him up for an ultimate redemption. Only time will tell but so far Kylo Ren's story is full of potential, and we can't wait to find out what happens next.