Kylo Ren, chief adversary of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, has been voted as the seventh-greatest movie villain of all-time by Empire magazine readers. The character was introduced in 2015's The Force Awakens, compellingly brought to life by Adam Driver. The former Ben Solo is considered to be one of the most nuanced figures in Star Wars lore, personified by his inner turmoil as he struggles between the light and dark sides of the Force. It's a testament to the writing and acting that the man who killed Han Solo has become a fan-favorite.
Several blockbusters today, even the well-received Marvel Cinematic Universe, tend to come up short in the villain department. Fortunately, that hasn't been the case for the new Star Wars films, as Kylo Ren is arguably the best tentpole antagonist this side of Heath Ledger's Joker. As it turns out, many moviegoers are in agreement with that assessment, believing he is one of the finest cinematic villains ever conceived.
The latest issue of Empire includes the results of a reader poll voting on the best movie villains. Kylo Ren placed seventh, ahead of such memorable baddies like Anton Chigurh, Voldemort, and Alien's Xenomorph. Few will complain about the ones who finished above Kylo: Darth Vader, Ledger's Joker, Loki, Hans Gruber, Hannibal Lecter, and Hans Landa. In the top 10, there are four Oscar-winning performances. A third Star Wars villain, Emperor Palpatine, came in fifteenth on the list.
Empire launched the poll on December 15, 2017, right when The Last Jedi had just opened. This means it's possible Force Awakens is more responsible for his final tally, though his actions in Episode VIII (particularly, killing Supreme Leader Snoke) no doubt contributed once people started to see that film. Even if the voting took place over the summer, Kylo would still have a strong case for one of the spots. In his debut, he ordered the murder of innocent villagers, tortured prisoners with the Force, and committed one heinous act of patricide by ending Han Solo's life. He was never going to truly rival Vader, but he was clearly one of the most memorable parts of Force Awakens and has only become more fascinating post-Last Jedi.
It will be interesting to see how J.J. Abrams opts to resolve Kylo's arc in Episode IX. The topic of the character's redemption has been a hot talking point these past couple of years, but even General Leia believes her son is completely lost. Curiously enough, The Last Jedi showed Kylo was unable to kill his mother, despite murdering his father and attempting to do the same to his uncle. If Leia is written out of Star Wars 9 to reflect Carrie Fisher's passing, the loss of Leia could have a severe impact on Kylo's psyche, and not just the Resistance heroes. The trilogy finale was originally going to focus on Leia, so hopefully there's a way to keep her presence in the film, even if she's not physically there.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019