Star Wars: Episode VIII is one of 2017’s most anticipated films (it topped Screen Rant’s year preview list), which is quite a feat given that next to nothing is known about the movie (we don’t even have a title). Most of Episode VII – The Force Awakens‘ cast are returning and Episode VIII reportedly picks up where that film left off, with Rey and Luke’s first meeting. There’s otherwise a level of secrecy at play here that we’ve not seen since, well, The Force Awakens.
One element in particular that could go in a multitude of directions is the character of Kylo Ren, the sequel trilogy’s only (confirmed) next-generation Skywalker. We last saw Ben defeated in the forests of a collapsing Starkiller base, with General Hux commanded to bring him to Supreme Leader Snoke. As such, it’s expected that Episode VIII will see him training up, but where his arc’s going – will he be redeemed a la Anakin, or has killing his father sent him too far down the Dark path? – is up in the air. Either way, Kylo’s deeper emotions are sure to be a key feature of the future movies, based on Adam Driver’s latest comments.
While appearing on Larry King Now (hat-tip to CBR), Driver was asked what aspect of Kylo Ren he was most excited for fans to see in the sequel, to which he responded “humanity”, before going into how the film will expand on the character’s introductory appearance:
“I think, I mean this is such a general answer, but you know, humanity. Even though it’s very much a blockbuster movie, and I’m aware of that, there was no taking that for granted in that we were forced to be general. You know, there were a lot of plot points that we knew were operating in the first one that we get to explain more in the second one that kind of make the both of them make sense.”
Kylo Ren certainly wasn’t a one-dimensional villain – he had a strong, personal link to the heroes through his parents and was constantly doubting himself in relation to his grandfather, Darth Vader – but there’s definitely room for deeper exploration down the line, which Driver’s comments point to; if humanity is the name of the game, then he’s unlikely to develop into a simple scenery-chewer. The quote also suggests that several of the threads left dangling by J.J. Abrams will not only be picked up by Rian Johnson in Episode VIII, but handled in a way that actually strengthens both movies. Given how unanswered questions were such a sticking point for some coming out of The Force Awakens, that can only be a good thing.
Addition to discussing his character, Driver explained how he feels the Star Wars sequel trilogy advances the original themes of the franchise:
“They do kind of feel kind of socially active to me. In that they’re – this is a long answer, but George Lucas originally – you know a lot of Star Wars was in response to Vietnam and I think a lot of what the, I remember talking to JJ and Ryan with this idea of terrorism and two sides kind of being morally justified to behave however they wanted to to get what they thought was absolutely correct.”
As he says, Star Wars always had real-world parallels – the original trilogy had Vietnam shades, the prequels touched on the Gulf Wars – and terrorism is the obvious next step. This moral conflict was at the core of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story too, and will hopefully be more explored further (albeit with different warring factions) in Episode VIII.