Kylo Ren: an Underrated Villain

The Star Wars saga is regarded as one of the most iconic film series to appear onscreen. In December, the studios released the newest installment of the series, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” A staple of the film franchise would be the sinister Darth Vader, Jedi turned Sith Lord. Vader set the  standard for villains in modern cinema. Producer J.J. Abrams was faced with a near-impossible task when directing the seventh edition. How do you introduce a villain more sinister than Vader?

If you have not seen “The Force Awakens,” I would advise you to not read on for there are spoilers. After the sixth film, the Galactic Empire is in shambles but remnants still exist. More characters step up to transform the Empire into the First Order, with a similar mission: to wipe out all Jedi and to rule the galaxy. This is where Kylo Ren comes into play. The son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, he trains under his uncle, Luke Skywalker, to continue the path of the Jedi. To some of the audience, Ren is an angsty teen who disobeys his parents, but he is much more than that. The movie does not detail his origins, but it does reveal that he was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He venerates his grandfather, Darth Vader.

Going back and analyzing “The Force Awakens,” I noticed a number of powers and characteristics of Ren that add to his résumé of cruelty. Throughout the film, the audience sees Ren lash out in anger, destroying monitors and other devices. Many interpreted his spurts of anger as temper tantrums, but they are much more. It shows that this character is unpredictable and unable to contain his rage, adding to his manic persona. His tactics of interrogations are new to the films. He uses the force to enter the mind of Poe. Vader is able to enter Luke’s mind but only for communication.

An overlooked detail in the film is the few seconds that show Ren slamming his helmet into a table of ashes while he questions Rey. J.J. Abrams enlightens audiences in the behind-the-scenes stories of the Blu-ray release that Ren’s helmet rests on the ashes of his enemies. This detail brings to light the vicious nature of Ren. He collects, burns and preserves the remains of his foes.

Overall, I believe that J.J. Abrams did a superb job introducing a new memorable villain to Star Wars, and one that could possibly rival Vader as the iconic villain of the franchise.