Both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren are powerful Dark Side users, with a love of black wardrobes and intimidating helmets. They have sworn allegiance to a governing power intent on galactic domination. They were also both servants to a mentor consumed by their lust for power, so much so that it eroded the very fiber of their physical being. When given the chance, these powerful men of the Dark Side overthrew their masters and sought to cut the shackles of bondage that made them their attack dogs.
But which is the stronger of the two? Kylo Ren is tempestuous and reckless, but his savagery cannot be denied. Vader is purposeful and methodical but burdened by the imprisonment of his armor. Where one has weakness, the other has strength, and as a result, are evenly matched.
10 KYLO IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE BROKE LUKE’S SPIRIT
Vader wasted no time in trying to turn his only son Luke to the Dark Side. Between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he tried to break his spirit in the hopes of persuading him when he was vulnerable and trusting.
Luke had never given up hope for the good that still existed in his father, and he never gave up on expunging the Dark Side from Kylo Ren. Not only did Ren destroy the Jedi Temple, but he may also have killed Luke’s students, which forced the Jedi Master to turn his back on the entire Jedi Order.
9 VADER IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN CONTROL HIS EMOTIONS
Darth Vader is focused, deliberate, and controlled with his emotions. When he was Anakin Skywalker, Vader conveyed posturing angst, but as he trained under Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious he learned to focus all of his anger and his hatred. He could channel it properly through the Dark Side and use it to become a powerful Sith Lord.
Kylo Ren cannot control his emotions, therefore he risks becoming consumed by them. He is prone to reckless outbursts when he doesn’t get his way, and his tantrums make him appear weak in front of his subordinates who should fear him.
8 KYLO IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN RULE THE GALAXY
When Darth Vader reveals himself to be Luke Skywalker’s father in The Empire Strikes Back, he also intones that the Emperor has foreseen that Luke can destroy him. Vader feels they should capitalize on Palpatine’s weakness and overthrow him, effectively ruling the galaxy together. Luke refuses and Vader never gets his chance - he passes away in the next film.
Unlike Vader, Kylo Ren successfully disposes of his mentor, Supreme Leader Snoke. He becomes the new Supreme Leader, and the First Order bows to his command. In Episode IX, he may be able to accomplish what his grandfather could not.
7 VADER IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN SURVIVE IN SPACE
Vader’s suit serves several functions, both intimidating and useful. It behaves as a life support system (which he cannot survive outside of) and has several essential features; anti-gravity boots (to adhere to a spacecraft’s hull) and a built-in respirator with a steady flow of oxygen that allows him to exist outside of a pressurized spaceship for hours.
Kylo doesn’t wear an armored suit and as a result, can’t survive the cold vacuum of space. He simply has a mask to obscure his features and perhaps protect his head, but it isn’t connected to any apparatus (which he’d be too unfocused to use).
6 KYLO IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN TAKE HIS HELMET OFF
Vader’s suit is essential to keeping him alive, with his helmet being the most important piece as it not only assists with his breathing but protects his charred face. He must have it attached at all times so the respiratory tubing can supply calibrated airflow to his lungs.
Kylo Ren has the liberty of removing his helmet at any time and isn’t burdened by the rest of the suit it connects to. He may not be able to survive in the vacuum of space, but he is unencumbered by its limiting mobility, and he can breathe unassisted.
5 VADER IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE’S A DARK LORD OF THE SITH
Darth Vader was made a Dark Lord of the Sith when Emperor Palpatine granted him the title of “Darth”, and trained him as his new apprentice after Obi-Wan had left him for dead on Mustafar. When they both perished, the last two remaining Sith were no more.
Kylo Ren can never become a Sith because there are no Sith in the galaxy left to teach him. He can’t declare himself one and therefore given that the Sith are an organization of Dark Side users with a specific set of traditions, he’ll never know their secrets.
4 KYLO IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN COMMUNICATE THROUGH SPACE
Kylo Ren and Rey began a strong telepathic connection through deep space in The Last Jedi. The connection was so strong they achieved sensory stimulation from each other’s environments, and could almost reach out and touch each other.
Vader like all Sith could read minds, and he was able to not only read Luke’s mind but speak to him telepathically after The Empire Strikes Back, but they needed to be relatively close by one another, such as on nearby ships or on the same planet surface.
3 VADER IS STRONGER BECAUSE OF HIS POLITICAL SPHERE
Vader was the spearpoint of the Galactic Empire, the public figurehead of its strength considering the Emperor was rarely seen in his feeble condition. The Empire controlled the galaxy, and there was not a world Vader was not known to. He had political and cultural influence, his own treasury, and his own castle.
The First Order is little more than a political faction of radicals. Kylo Ren was never with the First Order and Snoke long enough to warrant such an impressive sphere of influence or resources. He was an agent of Snoke’s who held no bureaucratic authority.
2 KYLO IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN FREEZE SOMEONE IN PLACE
A previously unseen maneuver, Kylo Ren has the ability to freeze people in place. He froze Rey several times, as well as various subordinates around him, such as General Hux. He immobilizes them via the Dark Side, with seemingly no effort on his part. He is able to walk around them easily and carry on a conversation, until they lapse into unconsciousness.
Vader never froze anyone in place (on screen), though the ability would certainly have been convenient when Luke shot out of the carbon freezing chamber. He may have deemed it unnecessary with Force Choking available.
1 VADER IS STRONGER BECAUSE HE CAN SURVIVE MISSING LIMBS
Obi-Wan Kenobi left his apprentice Anakin Skywalker a husk of a man, practically burned to death on the planet Mustafar and with three out of four limbs cut off. Through sheer will and the Dark Side, Anakin survived and was made into Darth Vader. He channeled his hatred into righteous fury.
By contrast, Kylo Ren was psychologically unglued by Rey giving him a scratch on the cheek. He couldn’t survive losing a finger, much less losing his entire arm. And without a suit of armor, he would be helplessly exposed, and much too inexperienced to be.