Since we were children, generations of us have been intimidated by Darth Vader. It could be his mask — a helmet that completely hid his head and face, giving no hint at what lay beneath, large black eyes gleaming and unblinking. Perhaps it was his all black suit with dark cape flowing out behind him that made you cringe every time he stepped on screen. Or maybe it was the creepy, mechanical ways Vader sounded as he spoke and breathed. For others, the Dark Lord was the ultra bad guy for the cool, calm demeanor he kept, even when using the Dark Side to carry out unspeakable deeds.
Whatever the reasons, Darth Vader stands out as one of the scariest villains of all time. So, how can anyone ever hope to live up to such a legacy? Kylo Ren finds himself in this position, being the grandson of Anakin Skywalker himself. With all that power running through his veins, one would imagine Kylo could do something useful with it. But how does the Master of the Knights of Ren measure up against the Dark Lord of the Sith? CBR made this list to help try and put the matter to rest. Read on to decide who you think would win if they ever faced off!
[WARNING: Some spoilers for The Last Jedi are contained in this list!]
16. KYLO: MASK OPTIONAL
An intense battle with Obi Wan Kenobi and an unfortunate dip in some lava left Darth Vader on the brink of death. Were it not for the intervention of his creepy master, Vader would have met his funeral pyre earlier. Instead, Darth Sidious encased Anakin’s scarred remains in metal and life support systems, completing Anakin’s transition to Darth Vader. These modifications did give Vader inhuman strength, and protection against toxic chemicals, but it was a pretty lousy tradeoff.
However, it left him in constant pain, and limited his ability to use Force Lightning. Additionally, as we learned in Return of the Jedi, Vader couldn’t live long without his life support systems. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, shows us that he is in full health and can live without his helmet, or any other gear. In some scenes, he shows us a bit too much. “Can you at least put a cowl on or something?”
15. KYLO: JEDI MIND TRICK THE AUDIENCE
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has stirred up much controversy in pop culture. Some think it’s one of the greatest Star Wars films to date. Others despise it with a passion that borders on scary. We at CBR would like to say, please settle down, it is just a freakin’ movie! One thing we can all seem to agree on is how the epic lightsaber battle scene towards the end of Episode VIII is. The audience was held captive as we watched “the next Darth Vader” turn… good?
Our knowledge of previous Star Wars sagas, and Kylo’s desperate desire to be like his grandfather, was used against us, though. We generally assumed that Kylo would indeed fulfill his grandfather’s legacy, by turning to the Light Side of the force after he’d also killed his master. All expectations were flipped, however, when Kylo used the opportunity to take Snoke’s place as Supreme Leader.
14. KYLO: EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER
Anakin Skywalker certainly was emotionally driven, often in ways some of us didn’t care for in the guise of Hayden Christensen. However, once he transformed into Darth Vader, he seemed to stop expressing emotions entirely. In the pre-canon novels, Darth Vader is described as “someone who feels nothing at all.” In later/canon materials, he is described as more emotional, using his hatred and pain to channel the Dark Side.
What is uniformly clear between all portrayals of Darth Vader is that if he does feel emotions, he isn’t controlled by them. He hardly expresses any form of emotions whatsoever, his natural poker face literally masked so that we can’t read any facial expressions. While this did make the Dark Lord of the Sith terrifying in a certain sense, Kylo Ren’s total lack of emotional control makes him a potentially more interesting and unpredictable character.
13. KYLO: KILLED HIS FATHER
You’d think having Han Solo and Princess Leia as your parents would be pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it seems the busy rebels left their son feeling neglected. This was one of the seeds planted deep within Ben Solo that left him vulnerable to succumbing to the Dark Side. Our hearts were broken when Ben thrust a lightsaber through his father’s chest in Episode VII, killing a beloved legend and his own father with one fateful stroke.
The same stroke that sealed his fate with the Dark Side, made Chewie flip out as only a Wookie can, and Rey call Kylo a “monster.” “I am a monster,” he would later reply. Anyone who kills a parent could be safely placed within that category, so we agree. Of course, this is a category that Darth Vader would never be able to fill himself, because he literally had no father. This is a confusing matter that we will get more into a bit later on this list.
12. KYLO: BREAK LUKE’S SPIRIT
Luke Skywalker was powerful, not just for his connection to the Force, but his indomitable willpower. This was fiercely displayed when he battled his father both mentally and physically; a struggle which included Darth Vader cutting off his own son’s hand, after which Luke was forever changed. Vader may have beaten Luke that time, but he never succeeded in mentally breaking him. On the other hand, Kylo Ren did break Luke after destroying his Jedi school and either stealing or killing most of his fellow Jedi students.
This unfortunate turn of events was more than Luke could handle, and he went into exile, becoming a broken and bitter man. Kylo Ren succeeded in mentally and emotionally decimating Luke, to the point that he cut himself off entirely from the Force as well as all human kind. We never saw Vader even come close to evoking that level of self-destruction in his son.
11. KYLO: RULE SUPREME
Darth Vader was arguably one of the most powerful Jedi and Sith Lords in the history of the order, but he was always second in rank. He answered to the leader of the Empire and Sith, Emperor Palpatine. Whispering evil intentions into Vader’s ear, Darth Sidious (Palpatine’s proper Sith title), ruled the known universe with an iron fist. It wasn’t until he chose to save his son’s life by killing the Emperor that Darth Vader could have become the head of the Empire.
Instead of seizing that chance, he turned to the Light Side, dying in Luke’s arms, in a scene that still makes us teary eyed. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, chose to take his master’s place after killing him, ruling as the Supreme Leader.
10. KYLO: FORCE COMMUNICATE OVER VAST DISTANCES
Though they were worlds apart, Kylo and Rey had fascinating face to face conversations using the Force in ways we never saw Vader display. It may be that Darth Vader was able to communicate over vast distances in vivid detail the way we see in The Last Jedi, but we never see it on screen. This feat is even commented on by Kylo to Rey — “You can’t be doing this, the energy would kill you.”
Snoke claimed that he was the one enhancing Kylo and Rey’s abilities to connect through the Force, and this may have been true initially. If that is the case, then why is that Kylo and Rey can still connect so strongly after his death? This was one of the many mysteries left us in the wake of The Last Jedi.
9. VADER: WOULD OWN KYLO IN A LIGHTSABER BATTLE
What would happen if Kylo Ren faced off against his grandfather in a one on one lightsaber duel? Well, just taking the armor into account, Kylo is already one down in this theoretical battle. Darth Vader’s suit may have been a hindrance in certain ways, but it was far superior protection to that worn by Kylo Ren.
Not only does Vader get the nod because of his suit, he was also far more skilled with a lightsaber. We saw his prowess in battle many times throughout the films, and not once did we see him lose a lightsaber duel. This is very different from Kylo Ren, who we’ve seen take many a loss in lightsaber battles, including to untrained Jedi. If a lightsaber duel between these two ever did occur, our money would be on Darth Vader.
8. VADER: STRONG WITH THIS ONE
Midi-chlorians are described as “intelligent microscopic life forms that live symbiotically inside the cells of all living things.” When there is a strong enough concentration of them, they enable their host environment to sense the energy field we know as The Force. A common way of testing a Force Sensitive’s potential power is by checking their blood for a Midi-chlorian concentration. Young Anakin’s blood results blew away Qui-Gon Jinn and everyone else when his Midi count came in at over 20,000+, the highest concentration ever documented.
It is hinted at that Vader was more than likely manifested into being by the Midi-chlorians, considering his mother states, when asked who the father is, that, “He has no father. One day he was just there.” One question that remains for CBR is how that scene was filmed. Nobody had any follow up questions for that unconventional response?
7. VADER: ANGER MANAGEMENT
As previously noted, Anakin Skywalker didn’t lack for emotions. Indulging in his rage and pain caused him to make terrible decisions that ultimately drove him to the Dark Side. As Darth Vader, he was a calm, poised, powerful man who stayed focused. Even when he choked someone to death, Vader was casual, as though simply taking out the trash. Kylo Ren is anything but in control of himself, and this causes him to make mistakes.
His wrath is displayed openly many times, leaving countless innocent helmets and computer panels in lightsaber-ed pieces. We would act the same as those Storm Troopers if we were in their boots — at the sight of a room being decimated by Kylo — we’d turn around and walk the other way, too. That corridor was just checked by security anyway, so we’ll move on and never speak of this again.
6. VADER: REDEEM HIMSELF
There may be hope yet for Kylo Ren to turn to the Light Side of the Force. From what we’ve seen of this character so far, though, self redemption seems highly unlikely. This is symbolized at the end of The Last Jedi when the entry bay to the Millennium Falcon closes, cutting off a Force Connection between Kylo and Rey. There are many symbolic meanings one could take away from that scene, but this is one impression we were strongly left with.
Unlike his grandfather, whom he ironically hero worships for being the Ultimate Dark Lord, Kylo Ren doesn’t seem likely to turn to the Light Side for any reason, including his own kin. We wonder if he knows that Darth Vader turned right before he died, killing his master to save his son. Seeing Kylo’s response to such information would be fascinating. Should he deny it, we’ve got it all on tape.
5. VADER: GEARHEAD
As one of the many feats a Jedi in training must undertake, building his own lightsaber doesn’t make Darth Vader unique. However, Darth Vader had an innate gift for designing and fabricating mechanical and electrical components of all kinds. Young Anakin built C-3PO from scratch, along with his own podracer. It seemed that he could repair just about anything he could get his hands on… when Vader still had hands, anyway.
Even after he was more machine than man, Darth Vader played a major role in the design and construction of the dreaded Death Star: a super-complex project that would require its architects to be well-versed in various types of engineering to see it through to fruition. Kylo Ren may enjoy using the technology dreamed up by his grandfather, but he doesn’t seem to have those same skills or interests.
4. VADER: FIRST TO BLOW UP A PLANET
From the original Death Star to Dreadnoughts, we’ve seen the Empire’s ability to destroy entire planets multiple times. The most memorable, though, was the first time we saw this awesome and terrible power in Return of the Jedi. With the Death Star’s full power aimed at Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, Vader squeezes information about the rebels out of the defiant princess.
Then he blows her mind, ours, and all the minds of those poor inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet by blowing it up anyway, turning what was described as a place of “peace and beauty” into an asteroid field. Kylo Ren may be able to harness these same powers using his grandfather’s technology, but he can never claim to be the first to have done so.
3. VADER: DOGFIGHT
You would think that being the son of Han Solo would automatically make you one of the most incredible pilots in the universe. It cannot be argued that Kylo Ren certainly inherited his father’s daring flight skills and intuition. Han was, after all, the pilot behind the legendary 12 parsec Kessel Run. However, in a dogfight between the two, we’re pretty certain that Darth Vader would own his grandson.
As young Anakin Skywalker, he was the only human skilled enough to compete in podraces. All the other competitors were droids, and many of them lost their mecha-lives in those dangerous races. Anakin was not only good enough to compete and survive, but win — earning his freedom from a life of slavery, and setting a chain of events into motion that would forever change the universe.
2. VADER: BE SITH
Although there is still much to learn about The Knights of Ren, it is made clear that they are not Sith. “The Sith” refers to both a genetic race of beings and a philosophy. As a race, the Sith were a red-skinned species of humanoids naturally strong with The Dark Side of the Force. The Sith spread throughout the galaxy and universe, interbreeding with and conquering others along the way.
As a philosophy and way of training, the Sith differ from The Knights of Ren in many ways, details of which are to be revealed in upcoming Star Wars releases (we hope). One thing we do know for sure is that Kylo is The Master of the Knights of Ren, not a Dark Lord of the Sith. Nor will he ever be one — another aspect of his grandfather Vader’s legacy he will fail to live up to.
1. VADER: COMPLETE HIS TRAINING
Any skill set requires years of dedicated training under one well versed in the study to achieve true mastery. Anakin had years of training as a Jedi under Obi-wan, and then as Darth Vader under Emporer Palpatine. He completed and surpassed his training, making Vader incredibly skilled. With skill comes self awareness and control, which makes one even more powerful.
Harnessed power wielded with skill beats raw unadulterated power just about every time. Kylo Ren left his training under Luke Skywalker before it had hardly started, and then killed his Dark Side master Snoke not long after. Kylo never completed his training as either a Jedi or Knight of Ren, making him wild and unpredictable. Unless there’s another one strong with the Dark Side Kylo is willing to train under, any further instruction for him seems unlikely.
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