Kylo Ren is not a great villain… yet.
When comparing Kylo Ren to characters like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Count Dooku (Darth Tyranus), and Darth Sidious, Kylo Ren comes in a distant 4th place. But hold on. While we here at Unmistakably Star Wars concede that Kylo Ren is not a great villain, we do think that there might be a better way to look at Kylo and his status as a Star Wars villain.
Really? Kylo Ren a great villain?
Kylo Ren is a unique case in the Star Wars galaxy. With Vader (in Episode IV) we find a character that has reached his pinnacle in villainy. With Palpatine in Episode I or II, he was already a Sith Lord. Maul? He was prepared, trained, and unleashed on the Jedi in Episode I. Even Count Dooku when he entered the story was very powerful and established. Kylo Ren is none of those things… yet.
Kylo Ren is developing
With Kylo, we are seeing the birth of a villain. Yes, he is the greatest of the Knights of Ren, but Snoke reminds him that the task ahead of him (killing his father, facing Rey?) was his greatest. Kylo fell at the hand of Rey. One can only imagine the anger and humiliation that is fueling him in future stories. Because his anger is growing from this point at a rapid pace it would be safe to say that his journey as a villain is accelerating.
Snoke is not done with Kylo
As The Force Awakens concluded, Snoke commanded General Hux to retrieve Kylo Ren so he can complete his training. Vader, Maul, Dooku, and Palpatine all had extensive training and were formidable when they appeared on the screen. Kylo is not done with his training. It is fun to imagine what exactly we will get when he is done.
What if Kylo finds redemption?
Many people have entered into an interesting debate if we will see Kylo Ren come back (find redemption) and become Ben Solo. While some people can’t stand the idea, others think it could work. It does provide a good question: If Kylo is redeemed can he still be considered a villain? I think the answer could be yes. Vader found redemption and he still is named one of the greatest villains by AFI. His actions were so terrible that audiences can’t forget them. Kylo has killed perhaps one of the most iconic film characters in history. Han Solo. People won’t forget. It can work because something similar has worked before.
Kylo Ren is gifted and insecure… Perfect combination
Kylo Ren’s behavior revealed to the audience that he is a very insecure person. This trait is made clear to the audience when Rey pushed back against Kylo during her interrogation. But Kylo is also gifted. This is a dangerous combination: someone with profound insecurity, embarrassed by what Rey did to him, and yet has exceptional talent. It will be interesting to see how Kylo Ren goes about seeking his revenge. Rey has a target on her back and her antagonist is fueled by revenge and power.
All we have to do now is sit back, wait, and watch Kylo Ren become a great Star Wars villain.