How Kylo Ren's Hair Stole 'Star Wars' & What Those Locks Might Mean Moving Forward
J.J. Abrams made a conscious effort to cast relatively unknown actors in Star Wars: The Force Awakens . But there's an argument to be made that the biggest breakout star from Star Wars isn't the Jedi heir-apparent or the unmasked Stormtrooper, but Kylo Ren's hair. Sure, Abrams' casting choices included the British newcomer Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn, both of whom have been widely celebrated for helping create a more inclusive Star Wars universe. But though their performances have started attracting some Oscar buzz, it's the locks of Adam Driver, who plays the young dark lord, that have been stealing the show. (BTW: This post is full of spoilers for The Force Awakens.)
Yes, Kylo Ren's hair has become an Internet sensation, and it's all but impossible to talk about the most angsty member of the First Order without referencing the scene in which he unmasks to reveal a voluminous, shiny mane of raven black locks underneath his unwieldy metal helmet. Though Adam Driver has been praised for his performance, it is arguably his hairdo that has really spawned a legion of rabid fans, even inspiring at least one Tumblr account.
Some of the interest is logistic, with MTV.com asking, "How did Kylo Ren keep his hair so voluminous under his helmet?" Other commentators are just longing to run their fingers through the mane, because romance, with Thought Catalog deeming the wannabe Sith Lord "totally crushable." The one meme that's really taken hold is that of Emo Kylo Ren, a parody Twitter account that pokes fun at the villain's penchant for brooding, angst, and daddy issues. Personally, I think part of the lasting appeal of Kylo Ren's hairdo is that it's exactly the look you'd expect from an emo kid hanging out at the mall, only strengthening the argument that, at the end of the day, Kylo Ren is just a sullen, angsty adolescent.
But this swooping hairstyle — landing somewhere between Justin Bieber's classic 2010 mushroom cut and Harry Styles's current unkempt, long locks — has been rocked in the Star Wars universe before, by Kylo Ren's granddaddy and the meanest dark lord of them all, Darth Vader. You know, when he was still Anakin Skywalker in Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith and was struggling with many of the same internal battles and existential questions that Kylo Ren seems to be wrestling with in The Force Awakens.
The parallels between Kylo Ren and Hayden Christensen's Darth Vader are no secret, and viewers of The Force Awakens are all but commanded to make the comparison. They've both become known for their brooding, and for toying with the Dark Side rather than flocking toward the Light. Kylo Ren does have the iconic, albeit molten, mask of his grandfather sitting on a pedestal, after all, and he repeatedly references the greatness of his now-deceased relative to anyone who will listen.
But one of the more subtle comparisons to be made is this physical one, and once you see the matching hairdos, it's impossible to ignore. It should be noted that both The Force and buzz-worthy hairdos run deep in this clan. Back in 2002, young Anakin Skywalker created a stir with his signature hairstyle in Attack Of The Clones: The Padawan braid, more commonly known as a rat tail. And if Twitter existed back then, I'm almost positive there'd have been a parody account for that.
But Skywalker did eventually grow out the rest of his locks and styled them into something more flowing — basically, a blonde Kylo Ren, if you will — as he distanced himself from the Jedi. That's the 'do he wore when he was figuring it all out. Anakin's locks were definitely flowing as he battled Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of Revenge Of The Sith, in the moments before he officially transitioned to Darth Vader.
Clearly Kylo Ren got his grandfather's hair along with his penchant for mind tricks, but there is one unavoidable difference between these two characters' hair. When Darth Vader unmasks in Return Of The Jedi, his hair is completely gone. There's no triumphant flow of the long, blonde locks that would make lacrosse bros envious or Tumblr go wild when he finally takes off his helmet. Instead, Vader is a bald and burnt of shell a man without the hair that he had when he was as angsty as Ben Solo.
If we are supposed to draw deep comparisons between Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, it only makes sense to take that to their matching do's as well. Perhaps Kylo Ren's hair, then, is a symbol of hope, a sign that his mother Leia isn't wrong in believing that he has the Light inside of him still, and that he may be able to find balance in The Force. Personally, I think Kylo Ren is the Samson of space, who might still be able to overcome the forces of evil as long as he's got his fabulous hair. And should we ever see a bald Kylo Ren, that's when we should really start freaking out. Sadly, we'll have to wait until 2017 to find out more. But at least we'll have Emo Kylo Ren to keep us entertained until then.
Images: Disney (1); Lucasfilms (1); Giphy (2)