The Force Awakens’ Big Bad is more like me than I was originally willing to accept.
By Chris Carle
After a whirlwind week of Star Wars news capping with another celebration of its awesomeness at this year’s D23 Expo, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Dark Side of the Force. No, I’m not practicing Force Lightning or choking out Admirals. I’m thinking about where I fit in the spectrum of dark and light.
This week, we learned just a little bit more about one of its loyal disciples when new details about Kylo Ren surfaced. In an interview with EW, JJ Abrams described him as “Not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy,” and from what we know of him already, he’s certainly not. He seems a lot more complex, but until we see The Force Awakens play out, we won’t know how many layers of onion there are.
Ren is presumably the Big Bad in The Force Awakens, barring some “Phantom Menace” waiting in the wings, and what I find so utterly captivating about him is he’s a huge fanboy. A Sithophile. It’s out there now: He’s a guy who is really, really into Darth Vader and will stop at nothing to know every last detail, every shred of knowledge he can glean. He even collects memorabilia related to Vader. Sound familiar?
He’s me. And you, perhaps. In a way, he’s anyone out there so obsessed with Star Wars that they’re losing sleep thinking about it, crying at trailers and waiting in day-long lines for a hope of a scrap of new info. For him, and for us, this thing he reveres is a part of his identity.
Perhaps it’s subconscious, perhaps it’s not, but it seems like the filmmakers are gently trolling us with the backstory of Ren. JJ Abrams is a long-time huge Star Wars fan, so if this is the case, I’m sure he’s self-aware enough to know the mild poke in the ribs extends to himself.
Of course, it helps that it’s also a very compelling story element, a way to tie this trilogy back to the former. But I can’t help but draw a comparison between the obsessive quest of Kylo Ren and our relentless pursuit of every collectible, every second of footage, every line of every novel and comic.
Perhaps I am presuming too much, or drawing too many conclusions based on the little information that is out there. But that’s what I do. I mull over what each new images means, each new quote. I scour the Internet for the perfect Star Wars shirt. I count down the days until The Force Awakens hits theaters because I am a disciple of Star Wars. I’m seeking the ultimate truth: that scene, that moment, that drawing or phrase, which captures the essence of my very first Star Wars experience. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it too much? I don’t care.
In my own obsessive quest, I am Kylo Ren. And I’m cool with that.
Okay, Chris Carle isn’t really Kylo Ren. He’s the Entertainment Editorial Director of IGN. You can find him on Twitter here. As of this writing, The Force Awakens is 122 days away. 122 excruciatingly long days.
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