Friday, January 1, 2016
Kylo Ren's Turn To The Dark Side And Why He Is The Force Awakens
So Kylo Ren is Han & Leia's son, Ben Solo. Big spoiler. We all expected Kylo Ren to have some relation to Luke but we never quite figured out what it was, well now we know. This is what I like about the character of Ben Solo and here is where I think the metaphor begins. For as much as I know of the Extended Universe (which I'll openly admit is limited to a few tidbits here and there) none of them really dealt with what it truly means to be Han Solo's and Princess Leia's kid. Your father is a renegade smuggler, who often times has had targets on his back and your mother is an honest to God princess...conflict much? Jacen Solo's turn to the dark side wasn't even really built around any conflict he had with his parents, it was more or less a vision from Lumiya and some really poor choices. Ultimately, here's where I think Ben Solo could be brilliant. I hope that unlike most turns to The Darkside, Ben's turn was because of his parents.
Let's step back for a moment and consider this, Ben Solo, here's a character that no one wanted, no one asked for and yet for better or worse here he is and unfortunately for that character he's gonna have to live with the fact that he bares the name "Solo" with all that entails. He's gonna have to live with the fact that his father is considered a highly esteemed war hero, his mother is an honest to God Princess and a general and his mentor and uncle is considered a legend...and he's just Ben...Ben Solo...the ancestor of great people who've accomplished great things, who liberated the galaxy...no pressure, right?
Now let's try again. Consider this. "The Force Awakens", here's a Star Wars movie that no one wanted, no on asked for and yet for better or worse here it is and unfortunately for that movie, it's gonna have to exist with the fact that it bares the name "Star Wars" with all that entails. It's gonna have to exist with the fact that the original films were cinematic classics that created timeless heroes and villains and has been a staple in Pop Culture for YEARS. And after the awfulness that was the prequels, no one really wanted a new "Star Wars" movie and if there was going to be one, it had to be good...so...no pressure, right?
I'm hoping that Ben Solo's turn to the darkside and becoming Kylo Ren is a result of a deep feeling of inadequacy of being able to live up to who his parents and ancestors were and the dichotomy of being told who they were and experiencing them at their weakest and most private moments. Ben has a line in the movie where he's extracting information from Rey and he says "You think of him (Han Solo) as the father you never had, he'll disappoint you.". That line spoke so much about how disillusioned he is as a character and maybe he has every right to be, who knows how Han Solo was as a father. In many ways, I think Ben Solo is frustrated with having to live up to his ancestor's standards while at the same time witnessing his ancestors fall short of those standards. Then along comes Snoke.
Snoke comes along and tells him, "You don't have to be Ben Solo, you can be your own man, do your own thing. Stop trying to live up to what came before you and live for you, find something you can believe in.". Ben Solo chose Darth Vader. But here's the thing, Darth Vader for all intents and purposes is a failure...and that's the point, Darth Vader failed as a Sith Lord because he couldn't kill Luke, but notice what Ben Solo says, "I will finish what you started.". Ben Solo isn't walking in anyone's shadow, he's picking up someone else's torch and running with it. Rey exposed that Ben was afraid he wouldn't live up to be Darth Vader BUT Ben was already living like Vader, he's just afraid he wouldn't be able to kill his family (as Vader failed to do). Rather than placing all of these accomplishment before him and telling him to meet that standard, looking up to Vader gives him as standard to reach, a goal that wasn't accomplished that he can claim as his own.
Hence the genius behind Kylo Ren is that until his origins and turn to the darkside is revealed, he's a walking metaphor for all the pressure that goes into a "Star Wars" film, the classics that came before it, the awful prequels that followed, and now here's a brand new movie that everyone is judging and tearing about and placing so many expectations on that can never be met simply because of what came before it rather than allowing it to be what it is. Not saying that having judgments and expectations are a bad things, but they can drive someone a little batty and give people just the right motivation to say "Screw it all!". And that's why I like Kylo Ren and that's what I'm hoping caused his turn to The Darkside. Let me know what you think and I'll catch you guys later!