Attention: the following post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
I’ve spoken to numerous people about the newest villains in the Star Wars saga, and what has become abundantly clear is that I don’t see eye to eye with a lot of the people criticizing the character of Kylo Ren. I’ve found myself defending his character, his development, his design, and the like on multiple occasions. I’m getting really tired of seeing people misinterpreting the greatness of Kylo Ren, so this month’s Dagobah Day is all about Kylo!
When I first saw Kylo Ren in the first teaser trailer I wasn’t super hyped up. Sure, Kylo Ren looked really cool with his mask and everything, but I was worried that perhaps we were just getting a cheap villain or a carbon copy of Darth Vader. I didn’t want Disney and LucasFilm to screw up their first new villain, and I really didn’t want them to take the easy way out when it came to preparing a villain. Kylo Ren wasn’t bland. In fact, I think you could argue that he is the most brilliant new addition to the Star Wars-saga. Yes, even more than Rey or Finn.
I was very familiar with Adam Driver, and I knew he was playing Kylo Ren – but I was never sure how much we would see of him without his helmet. When Rey challenged Kylo, during her interrogation, to take off his mask, I was super excited. Just like you were sitting in the movie theatre somewhat shocked, perhaps even disappointed, that this young-looking, fair-skinned man was behind the mask, I can assure you that we are to assume that Rey was just as awestruck.
I’ve heard people criticize Driver’s face and his looks, which I think is crossing the line, and a very weird argument to make against someone. He’s got the perfect look, voice, and demeanor in the entire film. He wants to be the greatest, probably due to him wanting to either shun his parents or Luke, or perhaps due to Ben, if I may, being insecure about his place in the world. I’m not sure he knows how powerful he is, but I think he’s worried about how limited he could be. Ben craves strength and power, and he fears that he may lose that power by falling back to the light side.
Ben Solo, or Kylo Ren, isn’t a happy-go-lucky country boy, a charming smuggler, or a talented leader. Ben is frustrated and afraid of his own lineage. He isn’t afraid of power, he is afraid of not being good enough to best his family. Ben Solo is the character Anakin Skywalker was always meant to be, before the prequels made him into a very different character. And if you think Ben or Kylo looks weak without his helmet, then let me stop you right there – that’s the point. He knows that he isn’t as strong as he potentially could be, and he is afraid of showing that.
You feel his presence when he walks into a room, he emanates power but is rather unstable and emotional all the same, and Adam Driver excels when he is given an opportunity to flesh out his character with fierce as well as subtle emotions. His face behind the mask does not harmonize with his persona, and that is brilliant as it helps the audience react to what-ultimately-is a multi-layered, complex villain, someone who isn’t what he seems. Driver blew me away, and stole the show for me. There’s depth to his character, and development over the course of the film. When the film rests on his character it seamlessly has a very particular and different tone, which elevates the film due to his performance. [From I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards – 2015]
Dagobah Day will return on the 4th of April, 2016.
I’m Jeffrey Rex