The signs are all over the place.
*SPOILERS FOR AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER*
Despite the fact very little has been officially revealed regarding the new characters being introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is much we can infer from the material presented thus far. Now that it’s been proven Kylo Ren isn’t Luke Skywalker, there’s plenty we can deduce about his character and where he’s going.
So, who is Kylo Ren?
A member of the First Order’s dark Jedi corps known as the Knights of Ren, Kylo Ren has an almost fanatical devotion to the legacy of Darth Vader to the point where he pledges to the Sith Lord’s burned mask to “finish what you started.” He dresses like Vader, has his voice modulated under his mask, and like Vader is keen on hunting down Jedi. It’s pretty obvious he’s trying to make someone proud.
It’s very clear from the outset that Kylo Ren is full of conviction that what he’s doing is not only the necessary thing to do, but also the right thing for the galaxy. It’s also clear that Kylo Ren has a lot to prove not only to his superiors… but also himself. With the goal of destroying the Jedi… does that mean his ultimate test is killing or capturing Luke Skywalker himself?
What does this mean for his character arc?
The creative powers behind the film describe Kylo Ren as an “anti-Luke Skywalker,” referring to a character who rose to greatness from humble origins. You may recall that Luke’s personal journey in A New Hope centered around the universal hero’s “call to greatness,” which ultimately culminated in his reaching his potential by making the “one-in-a-million” shot that destroyed the Death Star.
Kylo Ren’s personal journey seems to be centered around destroying the Jedi and defending the First Order. In The Force Awakens, we believe there will be a moment at the end that will be Kylo’s version of the trench run. His conviction, ability, and self worth is going to be tested that will culminate in a single climactic moment…
… and he’s going to fail completely, which will enable the Resistance to win the day and possibly destroy Starkiller Base. In the process of that failure, he’s going to lose his conviction and question all his beliefs he held throughout the film.
How will that work?
Well, if you’ve seen Avatar: The Last Airbender you may recall the fan favorite character of Zuko, dishonored Prince of the Fire Nation who was given the impossible task of capturing the Avatar in order to regain his standing with his father. Over the course of the series, he sacrifices everything to regain his honor… only to realize being accepted by the horrible people in charge of the Fire Nation means nothing to him. After a crisis of conscience, he chooses to join Avatar Aang to stop a Fire Nation invasion that would subjugate the entire world.
A warrior who is clearly carrying a massive chip on his shoulder… tasked with capturing an impossibly power figure… trying to make a dark mentor figure proud…
Yup, Kylo Ren is going to be the Star Wars version of Prince Zuko.
So, what does that mean for his character in Episode VIII and Episode IX?
Well, the most dramatic arc for Kylo Ren to follow in Episode VIII would have him at a massive disadvantage that makes him more desperate and dangerous. That could disadvantage could take several forms, but they would all those forms would center around him being dishonored by the First Order for his failure at the end of The Force Awakens. By the end of Episode VIII, he would either leave the First Order or do something unspeakably dreadful (like killing Luke, for instance) to regain their favor.
It’s also possible that Kylo Ren will have his conviction falter by learning the truth about Vader’s final moments, which would mean his “lord and savior” actually sacrificed his life to protect a cause Kylo Ren has spent all of his trying to tear down. Presumably, Kylo Ren has been taught a certain “truth” regarding Darth Vader, so if learning that was all a lie wouldn’t screw with the guy’s head we don’t know what would. Presumably, that would be his version of the moment Luke discovered Vader was his father in The Empire Strikes Back.
Episode IX would feature Kylo Ren dealing with the fallout of the events from Episode VIII, which would have him facing a crisis of conscience much like Vader did in Return of the Jedi. That inner turmoil will ultimately lead Kylo Ren to inadvertently follow in Vader’s true footsteps by aligning himself with Rey, Finn, and the Resistance to bring down the First Order for good.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!