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The Last Jedi is fast approaching, and Star Wars fans are eager to be reunited with their favorite characters, including the murderous son of Han Solo. Scarred and deflated following his defeat at Rey’s hand, Kylo Ren was picked up by the fleeing First Order forces before Starkiller Base erupted in a blaze of light, but according to The Last Jedi’s director, Ren’s journey won’t become any easier — or more honorable — any time soon.
Rian Johnson Teases That Kylo Ren Will Have A Dark And Fearsome Future
Since #TheForceAwakens was released, Adam Driver’s conflicted villain received flak from a small minority of fans for being “too weak and whiny,” but on reflection, this does Driver and the character a great disservice. With a barely suppressed fury and startling attempts at intimidation, Ren was a compelling presence to watch, and therefore a highlight of the movie.
Pulled between compassion and his darker instincts, the murder of Kylo Ren's father was meant to seal his fate on the dark side of the force, but it seems that that conflict hasn’t gone anywhere in the next movie. He may be on a mission of vengeance against the Resistance, his former Jedi master and his latest sparring partner, but the loss of Ren's father will reportedly play heavily on his mind too, even as he hunts down the Rebel scum.
Guilty consciences are fickle things; typically, this type of scenario could push a character back towards the light, or plunge them even further into dark waters. And as for Kylo Ren? Well, according to Johnson, it sounds like things will become a bit more sinister for the youngest Solo. In his interview with Empire, Johnson dropped one particularly intriguing hint about Ren’s stance in The Last Jedi:
“He’s not Vader — at least, he’s not Vader yet — and that’s something I really wanted to get into.”
Now that is certainly curious, especially when we consider how Kylo Ren has been described before. In interviews with J.J. Abrams and Driver, they’ve been quick to define Ren as not a full-blown Sith Lord like Vader or his master Emperor Palpatine. However, Ren’s already demonstrated that he’s not a novice by any standard, so the hint that the leader of the Knights of Ren isn’t Vader “yet” implies that a similarly tyrannical future awaits the grandson of Anakin Skywalker. And that’s both a cause for excitement and concern.
Will Kylo Ren Become The New Darth Vader Of The Star Wars Saga?
Any direct comparison between Kylo Ren and #DarthVader is sure to pique our interest; after all, the latter isn’t just the most quoted and feared character in the whole Star Wars franchise. He’s also undoubtedly one of the most iconic movie villains of all time.
It was very clear throughout The Force Awakens that Ren was aware of the Sith Lord’s dark legacy in the Star Wars universe. Indeed, Ren’s attempts to emulate his grandfather’s chilling presence were obvious, from his black, all-concealing helmet to his deep augmented voice. And heck, even though his facial scar was sure to hurt like hell, Ren is probably secretly pleased that he resembles Skywalker even more now.
But in what sense could Ren become the new Vader? Is Johnson suggesting that he’ll become as powerful as Vader was? That’s definitely possible, since we’ve already seen Ren using the Force to halt blaster bolts in mid-air and forcibly tear information out of his victim's minds — impressive abilities that Vader and his master never demonstrated onscreen. Perhaps Kylo Ren will forge for himself a similarly brutal, totalitarian legacy through his complicity in the First Order’s fascism? Kylo Ren will have to work hard to match his grandfather’s renown though; Vader’s mercilessness was so great that his reputation is still reportedly causing problems for the Skywalker family in the Sequel Trilogy, even though he’s been dead for over thirty years at this point.
However, whilst it would be fascinating to watch Kylo Ren grow greater in his dark power and infamy, do we really need to see him become Vader 2.0? Part of what makes Ren so compelling is his attempts to supersede the legacy of his Skywalker ancestors, so having him fulfil that goal so easily might make his character less interesting. Plus, the Star Wars movies may be built upon call-backs and mirrored situations — such as the repeated line of “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” — but another version of Vader might tip this scale towards overkill.
After all, as beloved as The Force Awakens was, the movie was criticized in some quarters for being too similar to A New Hope. Indeed, it’s a criticism that’s already been lobbied at The Last Jedi for its parallels with The Empire Strikes Back. Yet the bigwigs at Lucasfilm seem very aware of this sentiment, so it’s doubtful that skilled and capable filmmakers such as Rian Johnson would openly copy previous Star Wars movies and risk the wrath of fans once again.
Thankfully, Kylo Ren is already shaping up to be an impressive villain in his own right. The first trailer from The Last Jedi showed his Vader-esque helmet in pieces, and when he’s appeared in any promotional material for the film since, Ren hasn’t been wearing any kind of replacement. So, whilst he may follow in the footsteps in Vader, it does seem like Kylo Ren will develop into his own kind of formidable foe for the Resistance.
How will Kylo Ren's kind of villainy stack up against the might of Darth Vader? Well, we’ll have to wait until The Last Jedi and #StarWars9 roll around to know for sure!
(Source: Empire Magazine)