Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived. After waiting a decade, Star Wars fans finally get to see the next chapter in the saga, and despite the lofty expectations, J.J. Abrams did a great job with The Force Awakens — even if that meant simply remixing the recipe for the original trilogy’s success.
Everything you expect to see in a Star Wars episode is present in the film, including a great villain. Kylo Ren is a true Darth Vader successor. But before we proceed any further, you should know what follows is filled with major spoilers that could ruin Force Awakens for you if you haven’t seen it yet.
Kylo Ren is not as accomplished as Vader was in the 1977’s A New Hope. Rather, we see him growing from scene to scene, attempting to succumb to the Dark Side the way his grandfather did before him. Kylo Ren, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, was taught the ways of the Jedi by none other than his uncle, Luke Skywalker. But Ben Solo chose the Dark Side, becoming Kylo Ren. He killed the other students, which prompted Luke to leave to a remote corner of the known universe. His actions also had another side effect: Leia and Han split up, though neither stopped loving their lost son.
It’s that love that convinces Han to try to reason with Kylo Ren, and it’s that love that kills Han. Yes, that’s the major twist in The Force Awakens. Crowd favorite Harrison Ford will not return as Han Solo in the following episodes (well, maybe in a flashback) as Kylo Ren puts a lightsaber through his father’s heart in Abrams’ first Star Wars movie.
Director J.J. Abrams, along with writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, revealed during a Q&A session after a screening why they decided to kill Han Solo, Entertainment Weekly reveals.
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing,” Abrams said. “We knew we needed to do something f***ing bold. The only reason Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters.”
“Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain,” the director said. “And not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process.”
“All of us bring our own experiences to it,” Abrams said. “As a father, as a friend to people who have children, I know what it’s like to see struggle, to be part of struggle. I know how painful it can be. I know how real it is. And this is, of course, an insane extrapolated version. Patricide is not ideal.”
“It’s this massive tradeoff,” the director added about Han’s death. “How can we possibly do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
Michael Arndt, who helped create the story before Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the script for the movie, revealed that he didn’t want Han to be an unnecessary addition to The Force Awakens.
“‘What is Han doing in this movie?’ If we’re not going to have something important and irreversible happen to him, then he kind of feels like luggage,” Abrams said. “He feels like this great, sexy piece of luggage you have in your movie. But he’s not really evolving. He’s not really pushing the story forward.”
I’m one of the countless moviegoers who anguished over Han’s death. Seeing him on that walkway, I had a feeling that he was going to die. “Don’t tell me they’re killing Han Solo,” I told a friend, not expecting an answer.
However, his death makes perfect sense in the grand scheme of things. Additionally, Ford isn’t exactly in his prime, so we can’t expect him to keep popping up in Star Wars sequels, even though Han Solo may have the best lines in the Star Wars movies.
That said, Kylo Ren is definitely a great villain, and I can’t wait to see him fight Rey once again in the following episodes (who might be his sister, according to at least one sound theory).