When it comes to movie villains, you can’t get much better than Darth Vader. He’s fearsome, highly skilled, ruthless, and he’s got an entire army at his command. He’s an instantly recognisable pop-culture icon and he’ll always be remembered as the villain we love to be terrified by.
But could he soon lose his spotlight to none other than his grandson, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)? Kylo made his debut in The Force Awakens where he showed us he was a force to be reckoned with. He's set to return with a vengeance on 14th December when The Last Jedi arrives in Cineworld. But could he really be a better villain than Darth Vader? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
1. He's morally conflicted
Darth Vader was originally a young Jedi named Anakin Skywalker who, through deception and manipulation by Palpatine, was consumed by his own hatred and darkness and transformed into Darth Vader meaning that Vader’s evil was fuelled by his own anger and rage.
Although Kylo’s backstory hasn’t been fully revealed to us yet, we do know that he is extremely conflicted about where he should stand morally. We know that he wants to be powerful and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather but we also see that he knows he isn’t fully comfortable with what he’s doing and must be reminded about the power he can achieve from being on the dark side of the force.
Whereas Vader was comfortable with being the bad guy, Kylo is conflicted, therefore demonstrating that he could be a far more complex character than Vader. We recognise that Vader does have a change of heart at the very end but Kylo is conflicted right from the start and we can’t wait to see where his character goes next.
2. He will want revenge
In the original trilogy, Vader was by no means one of the good guys but all he was doing was stopping the rebels from ruining his plans. Granted, he planned to destroy most of the galaxy but his motivation can be boiled down to the villain who must be stopped. It’s basic but it works so who’s to complain?
In The Force Awakens, Kylo’s antagonistic position was similar: get the map before the resistance but after the events of The Force Awakens, it seems like Kylo will be on a more personal quest for revenge. In the climactic battle between Rey and Kylo, Kylo suffered a humiliating defeat and, if it wasn’t for the ground literally separating them, there was a good chance Rey would have killed him. Given that Kylo doesn’t seem to be the most gracious in defeat, we have a feeling that he’ll be taking things more personally when he appears in The Last Jedi.
3. He has some serious anger issues...
While Vader was never the friendliest and most forgiving of leaders (he would Force-choke someone just for looking at him wrong), at least he was dignified and level-headed while he was being merciless. This was part of what made Vader such a great villain in the first place but could a more unstable villain be a more formidable foe?
Unlike Vader, Kylo is still young and, like any other hot-headed young person, he’s prone to having bursts of uncontrolled emotion. Unfortunately, for anyone around him during said outbursts, they will need to put up with a full-on temper tantrum. This makes Kylo’s behaviour more unpredictable and we have no idea what he’ll be capable of in The Last Jedi.
4. But he's still following orders
Vader may have been the main antagonist but even the baddest space villain still has a boss. In the original trilogy, Vader was under the command of The Emperor. We know that it was The Emperor who turned Vader to the dark side originally so we can understand why Vader is so devoted to him; he’s like a father to him.
Likewise, Kylo is following the orders of Supreme Leader Snoke. Although we don’t know all the details, we do know that Snoke convinced Kylo to join the dark side. However, we’re not entirely sure how loyal Kylo is to Snoke. We know that Kylo’s conflicted and has a bit of a short temper so how much will these characteristics play into this relationship? Only time will tell.
5. He did what Vader couldn't
As we’ve already mentioned, Kylo is morally conflicted throughout the majority of The Force Awakens and is keen to do anything to prove to Snoke that he isn’t weak including (SPOILER WARNING) killing his own father, Han Solo.
Vader, on the other hand, had a soft spot for his blood relatives insofar as he was never able to bring himself to hurt Luke – well, aside from cutting off his hand but, to be fair, that’s the equivalent of a flesh wound to Vader. In fact, Vader has a sudden change of heart at the end of Return of the Jedi and stops The Emperor from killing Luke, sacrificing and redeeming himself in the process.
Now that Kylo has crossed a line that Vader couldn’t, could this mean that there’s no turning back for Kylo now that he’s succumbed over to the dark side? Your guess is as good as ours at this point.
To sum up...
There’s no denying that Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains in cinema and we will never be able to take that from him. However, after taking a hard look at Kylo’s actions and motivations from The Force Awakens, it becomes clear that he has the potential to be a more compelling villain than Vader.
He’s conflicted, unstable, and will most likely now be on a path for revenge. But could he really be a better villain than Vader? Only time will tell when The Last Jedi lands in Cineworld on 14th December.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.