When I first saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I emerged from the movie theater knowing two things: the first was that I couldn't wait to see what happened next; the second, that I was in love with Kylo Ren. The sensitive bad boy with flowing hair and anger issues completely and totally won be over, largely thanks to Adam Driver's excellent performance, including his surprisingly sexy modulated voice and intimidating stature. But other Star Wars fans were not so quick to accept Kylo Ren as the newest Star Wars villain. Is he too whiny? Too bratty or emo? Too like a mini Darth Vader? But, the real question (spoiler alert!) seems to be: is he a villain worthy of having killed one of the most beloved cinematic heroes of all time, Han Solo? With popular opinion still divided, and more voices being added to the debate with every showing of TFA, here's why Kylo Ren is actually the best character in The Force Awakens .
Before you question my ability to accurately judge Kylo's worth, let me say that I do not think that he is the best TFA character just because I love him (which I do, I really really do). I think he's the best because Kylo Ren is the most complex character put forth in this new Star Wars trilogy, and deserves to be recognized as such. Here's why:
He's More Than Just A Mini Darth Vader
At first glance, it's easy to dismiss Kylo Ren as a Darth Vader wannabe, with a whole lot less bite than his evil idol. His mask, a clear ode to his grandfather, looks more like a metal duck beak than threatening headgear, and his reputation for evil is still in the process of being built. He is also not the face of the First Order, instead preferring to stay in the shadows. Then there's the fact that he speaks to Darth Vader's mangled mask like a man going to confession. This all points to Kylo Ren being a mini Darth Vader, but he's really more than that. When we meet Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens , he doesn't have a strong purpose or mission. He's a villain, sure, but he doesn't seem to have an elaborate plan — he's not in control, and that makes him interesting. Kylo's pull to the Light Side is bubbling just underneath his freaky mask, making him seem more redeemable than Darth Vader ever was. Kylo Ren is more of a wildcard, which makes him a more dynamic character.
He Has The Most Potential For Change
While most of the new generation of Star Wars characters — Poe, Rey, Finn, and even General Hux — picked sides relatively easily in The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren's decision to stick with the Dark Side was more conflicted. This is due, in part, to his capabilities with the Force, which is constantly pulling him in two different directions, making his allegiance harder for him to determine and follow through on. In The Force Awakens, even though Kylo Ren decides to belong to the Dark Side, he feels a pull to the Light Side he cannot ignore. Though Kylo's decision to kill his father could be interpreted as the one act that finally seals his conversion to the Dark Side, the new villain is shown to be so erratic that it's hard to believe anything is set in stone. Furthermore, Leader Snoke said that he wanted Kylo Ren to complete his training at the end of the film, suggesting that the character's fate with the Dark Side is far from sealed.
This is probably one of the most hotly debated aspects of Kylo Ren's character. His volatile nature, particularly his anger management issues, coupled with his backstory, make him seem like a petulant child. It doesn't help that his tendency to destroy equipment in a fit of rage is sometimes used for comedic effect, which has the consequence of making Kylo Ren more of a caricature of a villain instead of making him seem dangerous. That said, it's refreshing to have an emotionally complex villain — especially one that's male.
He's Pretty Badass
Kylo Ren may act like a bratty teenager who just wants to take down his do-gooder parents, but there's no denying how badass he really is. He has a crossguard lightsaber and he's not afraid to use it. And, man, does he know how. Say what you will about Kylo's character, but he can deliver one hell of a fight scene, and that's definitely a must for any good villain.
He's Given Us Emo Kylo Ren
Not even the Kylo Ren haters can deny the power of this Kylo Ren parody Twitter account. Emo Kylo Ren is a hilarious take on the character's feels — of which he has a lot. Haters might think Kylo Ren is a horrible villain, but anything that inspired this Twitter is worth celebrating.
All of the reasons why Kylo Ren is the best Force Awakens character really boil down to one truth: he is the most interesting going forward. Yes, I'm curious about Poe, and, yes, I want to know who Rey's parents are, but Kylo Ren is the most mysterious and intriguing character established in The Force Awakens. I want to know everything about his past and his future. I also want to run my fingers through his magnificent hair. But, really, I want to keep following his journey, and that's what makes a great Star Wars character.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; Giphy (4)