Star Wars is a franchise that often delivers intimidating villains: Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, among others. Come The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams positioned the mysterious Kylo Ren to join them… but he didn’t quite live up to his predecessors.
The words “emo” and “whiny” were often associated with Adam Driver’s character, but as the first trailer for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi showed, the franchise has become a lot darker and Kylo seems to be much more assertive and menacing. That’s the impression we get now, but this could be deceiving. We have some thoughts on how Rian Johnson can secure Kylo Ren’s status among Star Wars villains.
Don’t Rush Kylo’s Backstory
The Force Awakens mishandled Kylo’s origins, revealing way too much, too fast and too early. Fans were ambushed by the revelation that he’s the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, the student who betrayed Luke Skywalker, turned to the Dark Side under Supreme Leader Snoke and then razed the new Jedi Temple.
The thing is, with such a reveal, why didn’t Abrams do it as a slow burn, or as a later surprise? Imagine not knowing anything about Kylo until he killed Han. That scene was lacking in tension; we already knew too much. Given that we didn’t see or hear from Luke until the end of the movie, Kylo’s betrayal of the Jedi Order could also have been kept secret until that point, but instead Abrams rushed this Skywalker family dynamic before we even got a chance to know (or in Luke’s case, reconnect with) the current players on the board. If Johnson is patient in unraveling this backstory we’ll be good to go.
Don’t Make Kylo a Vader Rehash
What disappointed even more were the quick flashbacks of the Knights of Ren with Kylo and the Jedi temple’s downfall. There wasn’t any emotional connection built up to this tragedy, yet we were supposed to quickly accept Kylo as a galactic Judas? With all Kylo’s history now out in the open, fans can see it’s a bit similar to his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. Johnson has his work cut out for him if he wants to differentiate Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side from Anakin’s. Most importantly, Kylo’s gravitation to Snoke needs to feel organic, especially if it’s to avoid being a Vader/Palpatine rehash.
Why is Kylo Ren so obsessed with his grandfather? If Johnson can explain that, we may even end up empathizing with Kylo Ren. We all know Vader was seduced to the Dark Side – but what if Kylo had actually sought it out, encountering Snoke along the way? That would be an intriguing twist to explore — an apprentice seeking a master, and not the other way around.
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