Kylo Ren, a commander for the First Order and master of the Knights of Ren, made an enemy of millions of Star Wars fan when he so ruthlessly felled everyone’s favorite smuggler in the franchise’s newest installment. Aside from killing his own father and fan favorite Han Solo, Ren demonstrated an impressive control of the force that introduced him as a force to be reckoned with…sort of. While obviously a deadly threat to the light side, Kylo “Ben” Ren showcased some less than desirable traits that made many question whether or not he would be the next iconic Star Wars villain that we’ve all been waiting for. With Vader, Fett and Maul-sized shoes to fill, Ben was presented to us as a man who still had some growing up to do, to say the least. Tears, tantrums and periodic bouts of whining, while successful in illustrating his youth and internal struggle, didn’t scream “Star Wars villain”. With that being said it is this Geeko’s opinion that The Force Awakens merely intended to set the stage for an evolution that has yet to be seen in the Star Wars Universe. Ben no more, Star Wars fans should expect a very different Kylo Ren in Episode 8 for the following reasons.
In Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader returns to the light at the last minute to save his son from Darth Sidious. He redeems himself in the eyes of the audience in one fell swoop (or toss) and all is forgiven. But how? This is the evil Darth Vader we’re talking about – Arguably the most iconic villain of all time! When did we become so forgiving? Without taking anything away from Vader and how ruthless he really was, we are actually only witness to 11 deaths at the hands of the Sith Lord during Episodes 4-6, most of which are Rebel pilots that we don’t care too much about and Empire Captains that we care for even less. All but one of his original trilogy kills are easily forgettable, which means easily forgivable. The exception is his slaying of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The reason Vader’s redemption is still allowed even though he kills Obi-Wan is because we never actually see a typical death. Obi-Wan disappears at the moment of his demise only to speak to Luke again at the climax of the film, when he urges him to use the Force. Obi-Wan also makes several appearances during The Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi, giving audiences the feeling that he never really died at all. Lucky for Darth Vader, this allows us to forgive and forget quite easily. Kylo Ren on the other hand, will not fare so well in the eyes of the fans. Where Vader’s kill of Obi-Wan is soft and ambiguous, Ren’s kill of Han is harsh and absolute. Lit by the faint glow of Ren’s lightsaber, fans will never forget Han’s expression as his son takes his life. It will forever be etched in our minds and it is undeniably unforgivable. Because fans will never forgive Ren, “Vader redemption” is an impossibility and won’t be considered an option as the trilogy progresses. This means that writers will truly approach Ren as the villain that he can, and will become. From a writer’s perspective, there’s no looking back. Kylo Ren the villain will be fully committed to and realized over the next two films.
The murder of Han Solo was the end of one iconic Star Wars character and the beginning of another. “I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?”, Ben Solo says to his father, just before stabbing him through the chest. Throughout The Force Awakens Ben’s inner conflict is obvious. He has chosen a life of the dark side, but often feels the light creeping back in. It isn’t until he kills his father that he truly makes his choice. It is at that moment that he closes the door on the light once and for all and truly becomes Kylo Ren. Episode 8 will bring us a Ren without conflict – A Ren with an undivided focus. Two Solos died on that catwalk, leaving only Kylo Ren.
“Leave the base at once and come to me with Kylo Ren. It is time to complete his training.” If Ren’s irrevocable choice to embrace the dark side wasn’t enough to convince fans to expect a very different Kylo Ren in Episode 8 and 9 then Supreme Leader Snoke’s order to General Hux should seal the deal. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren already has an impressive grasp on the force. He demonstrates his ability to stop a blaster beam in mid-air, he brutally pierces Poe Dameron’s mind to find the location of the map and he uses a direct hit from Chewie’s boltcaster to hulk up before his fight with Finn and Rey. All this, and according to Snoke, he’s just getting started. Adding to the new found confidence that Ren will gain as a result of his renewed commitment to the dark side will be his increased mastery of the force. Snoke’s training will no doubt be harsh and unrelenting, resulting in a hardened sith – perhaps the most villainous we’ve ever seen.
Not only will Ren’s character change in Episode 8, but so will his look. It was no accident that Kasdan, Abrams and Arndt had the treacherous son leave his helmet behind on the infamous catwalk. He could have easily picked it up in preparation for his battle with Finn and Rey but instead, he walks away from it. By leaving his helmet behind, Ren is walking away from the internal conflict that has plagued him his entire life. He is walking away from a weaker version of himself and fully and truly embracing the dark side. This psychological transition will be accompanied by a physical change, specifically a new helmet that represents his unwavering commitment to the dark side. Kylo Ren will change physically in Episode 8 to reflect the evolution of the character.
Kylo Ren, a commander for the First Order and master of the Knights of Ren, made an enemy of millions of Star Wars fan when he so ruthlessly felled everyone’s favorite smuggler in the franchise’s newest installment – but it had to happen. It had to happen because there was no better way to establish this trilogy’s villain. Ren’s defining moment had to be so horrific that “Vader-redemption” became an impossibility and with Han Solo’s murder, it certainly has. Snoke’s training will make him even more powerful and propel his commitment to the dark. All the while, his new face – his new identity – will spread fear across the galaxy. Fan’s have been waiting for the next true Star Wars villain, and he will be unveiled in Episode VIII. Episode VII’s Kylo Ren was merely the chrysalis of Ben Solo’s transition into the villain that we all deserve. Jedi, be wary – I can’t wait to see what comes next.