I recently read that heading in a prediction about Episode VII that really rings true upon watching the film. J.J. Abrams did with Star Wars what he had done with Star Trek. He told the same tale with new faces and new adventures that seemed old and familiar, yet entirely new and untold at the same time.
Once upon a time a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a reluctant hero unaware of what destiny holds, and a fearsome evil that hides its face behind a mask.
Now, I have already shared my thoughts on this new hero, Rey. But it’s time to talk about that so-called fearsome evil behind the mask.
Kylo Ren is not the villain we’re looking for. Not yet, and perhaps not ever. I wanted Darth Vader. I wanted that faceless evil that stalks nightmares to the tune of the Imperial March; that commands fear in its wake and levels people with a mere thought and clench of its fist. But Kylo Ren is not Darth Vader. Far more awe-inspiring with his mask on, Adam Driver leaves much to be desired with his facial acting. Like my fellow Queens, I would have preferred he not take it off at all until the final bridge confrontation, but even the mask doesn’t hide the character’s youth. With temper tantrums, delusions of grandeur, and that incessant Skywalker whining, Kylo desperately wants to be Vader as much as we desperately want him to be.
As a friend of mine put it “killing your father is the Sithiest you’ll ever be,” yet Sith-iest was not the look we got from Driver on that bridge. Sith-wannabe was more like it. However, I believe there is method in that madness because a full turn into the darkness doesn’t happen in a moment, it builds upon every action and choice. Anakin was driven into the darkness, Luke was compelled towards the light, and Kylo is torn between the two. He is the most human of all characters and his free will mirrors are own. He struggles as we ourselves do in balancing our own two sides of the Force. The spiritual/religious symbolism is strong in Star Wars. We are very emotional creatures, yet oftentimes our actions can be made without emotion. However it the guilt of those actions that will forever haunt us and weigh our souls down.
We need Kylo Ren as a villain because we need to see uncontrollable, chaos driven rage from a Sith lord. We need to see that unhindered passion that is the root of the Sith way of life (see: Sith Code). And yet we still need to see hints of that emotionless void we have come to expect from the Sith. Although elements of passion are there in the prequels, the knowledge we have that Anakin becomes Darth Vader colors of all his actions with the cold, calculating aura he possesses in the OT. Kylo’s future is yet unknown and this provides the perfect backdrop to really watch the darkness grow or die as the case may be.
At the heart of the Original Trilogy, is the story of a father and a son caught on opposite sides of a war. The Prequels are about two brothers in arms that destroy one another and unleash the war. Perhaps the Sequels are about two siblings, or more likely cousins as I predict, that are coping with the fallout from that war – a war which refuses to end.
The teams are at a stalemate. Neither side has its champion…not yet. And maybe the sides aren’t as black and white as they formerly seemed to be.
– Queen Amidala