Out of the new cast of characters of the new trilogy, Kylo Ren was my favourite. But the direction that they went for the character sapped all enjoyment. Here is what I would have liked
Out of the new cast of characters of the new trilogy, Kylo Ren was my favourite. But the direction that they went for the character sapped all enjoyment.
Here is what I would have liked to have seen from the new Darth Vader figure.
Words cannot express how excited I was for the new Star Wars trilogy when it was announced. Yes, I would have preferred it to have been an old republic era trilogy. However, there was one scene which got me completely on board. When he is walking through the forest and ignites that crossguard.
This was something to get excited about, we get a new Darth Vader with increased mobility, seemingly more ruthless tactics and a cool new lightsaber. Sign me up! It seems like we are going to get what Anakin Skywalker should have been, and I was all the way on board. You know me, a sucker for an interesting villain.
The Force Awakens
So throughout The Force Awakens, we got exactly what I was hoping for from this character. He is a tortured wannabee Darth Vader, with a scary mask and temper issues. He even had his own version of the emperor; Snoke, and a squad that most people would kill for.
But he is also tortured by his past, needing to kill his own father to complete his transition. More importantly, he wears the mask to project fear and hide his identity, to not be associated with his family. A character tortured by the light and the dark side is one that we can all get behind.
Throughout the entire movie he is a menacing presence, the very first scene he shows off a new way to use the force and shows absolutely no mercy. He is prone to temper tantrums and destroying things, and no one is safe from him.
There is another aspect that makes me like this character; he’s competent. Sure, there are times when it doesn’t go his way but for the most part, he knows what his mission is and does it. He needs to capture Rey? He goes out and captures Rey. He needs to kill his father? He stabs him right in front of his best friend.
Not to mention he lead one of the coolest looking groups ever; the Knights of Ren.
The most captivating moment for me was when he killed Han Solo, his own father. It wasn’t an easy task, and you know it. That is one of the key aspects of making an interesting villain. I cover this in my Deliciously Complex Characters; Thanos review, check it out to see how this character trait makes us sympathise with the villain.
The fan art above shows how it must have felt for him to carry out this act, he killed the father who raised and loved him. Just to completely commit to the dark side of the force.
The Force Awakens left me super excited for what could come next.
The Last Jedi
Now we come to, what I believe was a strong film for Kylo Ren. Although there are many other issues with this film, it did a good job overall of portraying a character like Kylo Ren. He’s feeling inadequate and angry, and very ashamed that he was bested by Rey in the previous movie. In addition to this, the being that was a large influence in turning him to the dark side is disappointed in him. I think it would have been better to also show how tortured he was over killing his father, maybe memories of them together or him seeing visions. These would have actually made me feel that he regretted his decision.
Then we learn more about his past and why he turned to the dark side, how Luke Skywalkers error in judgement caused Ben Solo to die and Kylo Ren to be born. From the perspective of Kylo Ren it is understandable why you would want to pursue this path.
It’s also important to note for Kylo Ren how influencial Snoke has been to him, he is essentially the devil on his shoulder.
All of this created what I believed to be a tortured soul version of the character, one that is ready to let the past die and forge a new destiny. This new character was going to destroy the old ways in favour of balance. He has been seemingly abandoned by those on both the light and the dark side.
After he killed Snoke and fought the Praetorian guards with Rey, in what I found was one of the best live-action Star Wars fight scenes, he had a new mission.
No longer was he subscribing to the dark or the light side, instead he is forging his own path to bring what he considered peace to the galaxy. It is in fact a compelling argument, for thousands of years the Sith have fought the Jedi and it always results in more and more death.
This seems to be more in alignment with Grey Jedi, who don’t subscribe to either side of the force as they are both flawed.
Either way, The Last Jedi set this character up to have an awesome next movie.
The Rise of Skywalker
OK, now this is where it took a very steep nose dive off of a cliff for this character.
The beginning of the movie was perfect for him, the opening crawl stated that Supreme Leader Kylo Ren was raging across the galaxy. I had one thought to this; “Hell yeah”. I was pumped to see what him raging across the galaxy taking his plan into action.
But very quickly, in The Rise of Skywalker it went downhill. After getting to Mustafar and realising that the defining influence for every major decision in his life, Snoke was a clone, he should have broken down or went insane. He killed his own father at the direction of Snoke, and Snoke was just a clone? His whole life has been a lie because of Emporer Palpatine. This should have caused him to either try to kill Palpatine in anger or disappear somewhere to think on his decisions.
Nope, he just forgets all of that and goes along, with a sudden U-turn at the end of the movie to become Ben Solo again. Not for any particular reason other than his mom force called his name. He just went against everything he was originally fighting for to go with Palpatine, then does a complete 180 to the light side of the force. Then dies. Facepalm.
Better Examples Of What He Should Have Been
Its easy to critisice without any ideas of my own, so I will lay out three examples of what this character could have been. These examples will show how interesting characters have been created in the Star Wars universe.
Now most nerds who love Star Wars know how incredible the cinematic trailers are for SWTOR (Star Wars The Old Republic).
They blend the perfect mix of story, action and compelling characters. None would be a better example than the Knights of The Eternal Throne. If you don’t believe me check out the trailer below.
You get absolutely everything you need from this trailer, amazing story amazing visuals and amazing action. But more to the point of this article you get an amazingly compelling character.
Here we have a young girl who is naturally powerful in the force, and is unfortunately turned into a weapon by her father and sith sorcerers. Since she was given up by her mother, and was tortured before her mother came back to rescue her, she has already turned evil. Perfect story, and set in the same universe.
Another example from the same era would be the Knights of the Eternal Empire. Where a man is driven to the dark side and rage, through the ill-treatment from their father. Now this is also up there as one of my most favourite Star Wars stories, again told through a short video.
Both of the examples above are meant to show one thing; that there are multiple ways to write a character who turns to the dark side. More importantly we can show how these characters may return to the light side of the force if given the chance.
Personally, this is where I feel that Kylo Ren should have sat, straddling the line but with more of a justification of going to the dark side. I don’t think a third film sudden twist to become Ben Solo because “reasons” is the best way forward for this.
What if instead of having a tortmented character between the light and the dark, have the character completely commit to the dark side. The best example is Darth Malgus, he’s what we would call an angry individual to say the least.
He is one of my favourites in the universe because of his simplicity, he is pure rage and wants to destroy the light side of the force.
This is also what made Malgus extremely terrifying when on-screen he is a dominating presence and fights to kill. How about instead of trying to go the traditional redemption arc for Kylo Ren, imagine if he was an irredeemable rage-filled machine, who was efficient and did not hesitate in killing his enemies. The best example is when Malgus storms the Jedi temple in the Old Republic, he is absolutely ruthless in this scene. He takes on the Jedi master of the temple and wrecks through him like a bowling ball. It’s not just that he won the fight, its how ruthless and dangerous he showed himself to be. Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer below:
Any of these characters or stories are better written villains with compelling backstories and satisfying endings to all. I won’t discuss them here as I recommend playing SWTOR and finding out the conclusion to these storylines and characters.
So I have had many issues with this trilogy, but the one redeeming quality of the films was Kylo Ren as the villain. But TROS put the nail in the coffin for that to be a satisfying ending, so here we are.
Do you think that I have missed something?
Do you guys like how it ended?
Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading!