Sitting patiently among all the outrageous hype and bombastic ballyhoo which surrounds Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, one question looms larger than Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber – Will Kylo Ren be able to cut it as a super villain in the same way as Darth Vader or will the slithering Sith be another Jar Jar Binks in the Emperor’s new clothes?
It’s the sort of question which keeps the universe up at night, studying old Luke Skywalker photos in an attempt to uncover the real identity and nature of Kylo Ren, a character who more than any other has whetted the appetite of the movie going public for the new Star Wars film.
What is he? Who is he? Is he a he? And why has he got such a crap name? Some have suggested that Ren is Luke Skywalker in a mask, others that he’s Luke’s son, which would make Darth Vader his grandfather. Any way you slice this particular cookie, the reality of Ren will probably pale into insignificance when compared with the strutting evil and terrible tragedy of Darth Vader.
Up until now, the Star Wars film have all been about Darth Vader. The original trilogy was all about him being a deadbeat dad and his struggle to build a meaningful relationship with his son, while simultaneously destroying planets, wiping out civilizations, and building an evil empire to end all evil empires.
The prequels, on the other hand, were all about Anakin Skywalker, and how a young boy with a lot of potential was consumed by rage, corrupted by the dark side, and ended up with breathing difficulties and wearing an iconic mask.
The Force Awakens has no Darth Vader and no Anakin Skywalker. As a consequence, you could say that if you ignore its insane potential as a genetically modified cash cow, Star Wars 7 is as redundant as a bicycle-riding fish.
Can Kylo Ren ever truly compare with the Duke of Darkness and Earl of Evil himself – Lord Vader? Let’s take a look, shall we.
For starters, we know that Kylo Ren is a rather limp and post-modern name that would be more suited to a hyperactive and unruly toddler. At best, Kylo Ren is the name you would give to a fiercely loyal, if somewhat aggressive, Alsatian, not to the new super villain in what will probably be the most commercially successful film in the world ever!
Compare the name Kylo Ren with the dark majesty and might of Darth Vader. One has menace, presence, and punch, and the other sounds like a new car.
Secondly, he has a silly lightsaber. Apparently, Ren’s tool of the trade is based on an ancient design that features exhaust vents that act as crossguards. One can’t help thinking, “Poser!”
Thirdly, when the mask is off, Ren looks like an awkward Power Ranger, who’s gone a bit rock n’ roll. When we see Vader without his mask in Return of the Jedi, it’s like looking at the face of a washed-up alcoholic, who’s served ten tours of duty in hell and is consumed by regret and haunted by the terrible things he’s seen and done. In short, Vader is the real deal.
Fourthly, Vader’s outfit was mean with a capital “M.” Ren’s just makes him look like a glamorous Ringwraith from the Lord of the Rings who appreciates the importance of personal grooming.
Fifthly, Vader was a complicated creature who’s personal brand of evil came from a very human place; self-loathing! Ren just looks like a spoiled rich kid who wants to break a few things up just to get a rep. Break it down, and he looks pretty one-dimensional next to the unfathomable complexity of Vader.
Lastly, but by no means least, Kylo Ren has the mother of all Darth Vader obsessions. Now, although there’s nothing wrong with Kylo’s extreme devotion, you can’t help feel that no self-respecting super villain should harbor a man crush on his superiors.
After all, Vader may have been in Emperor Palpatine’s pocket, but, at least, he never made a shrine out of his robes. Ren, on the other hand, comes across in the Star Wars 7 trailers as an obsessed acolyte who has made a fetish object out of Darth Vader’s helmet.
In the final analysis, Darth Vader overcame the ritual humiliation of being called “Annie” constantly by the older Jedis and grew up to destroy planets and bring the universe to heel. In the shade of such dastardly and diabolical achievements, Kylo Ren looks a bit like a teenage goth with a Marilyn Manson fixation.
Although he can obviously talk a big game, can Kylo Ren walk the walk? Well, I guess we won’t know until Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens hits our screens, but to date, it doesn’t bode well for the new pretender to the throne.
(Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)