How cool is it to write a sequel villain whose villainy is based on wanting to, but knowing he can never succeed in, being as cool as the original villain? That’s what I call a piece of *really* smart script writing! For what villain was ever going to be quite as cool as Darth Vader. That’s a hard act to follow.
In terms of fan art created in his honour, Kylo Ren comes a close second to Rey. There are a large number of depictions of Kylo with his cross shaped lightsaber, in mask and hood, looking like a mix of crazed medieval monk, martial arts acolyte, and ring wraith.
Another set of portraits takes the mask off and focuses on his smouldering Professor Snape-ish good looks, the “angry space emo” who is potentially quite vulnerable.
Some of these show him as the spoilt, entitled brat with zero emotional self control he is, but others tend to romanticise him as the misunderstood outsider, who needs to be “saved”, probably by a woman’s love. And there is quite a worrying number of predominantly female fan artists who seem to think that this should be Rey’s role.
I find those quite problematic. Not only is it a glorification of what would no doubt be a profoundly toxic relationship – it also makes me wonder if our cultural patterns of who can be a “hero” are so deeply ingrained, that fans would rather pair Rey with Kylo, than with Finn, who is being set up as a potential romantic interest (although personally I hope it is a red herring, like Luke and Leia, and the romantic pair will be Finn and Poe … but maybe that is too much to hope).
The most fun of the images I found are the cartoon depictions of what Kylo’s – that is Ben’s – childhood might have been like as the kid of Leia and Han. Though it is fun with a bitter note: it’s a pretty dark subject matter to tackle, isn’t it: what happens to parents whose kid turns out bad. Given that both Leia and Han have been established as people with exceptional integrity and groundedness, one can hardly blame it on the parents. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, and where the film makers plan to take this character.
All images are copyright the respective artists, and may not be reproduced without permission.