Over the last four decades, a significant part of the Star Wars saga has been its legendary villains, more prominently the Sith duo of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. They had supporting villains such as Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous and it was the presence of these villains which created a sense of fear and despair, strong enough to send shivers down the spine. That’s why fans were delighted to spot a new villain in J.J. Abrams movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The duo of Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke reminded us of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
Eventually, both of them turned out to be gross disappointments; there was a hope that they darker storyline of the Rian Johnson movie The Last Jedi will do justice to these two. But, just like the various other lesser villains of the film, Johnson only managed to create some weak imitations who resembled the legendary villains only in style and not in depth. Let’s have a look at how The Last Jedi failed its villains.
In The Force Awakens, Snoke was nothing more than a mysterious holograph, which gave rise to excitement and hope of a detailed character build for Snoke in the Johnson helmed sequel. But, Johnson gave no details about Snoke or how he managed to win over Ben Solo, the reasons behind his hatred for Luke Skywalker or why he is bent on destroying the Jedi. These are key questions to prove that he was something other than a Sith, and also not just an ordinary random bogeyman.
It was not just a lack of identity, but, Johnson also bumped Snoke off, just when he appeared to have gained prominence. While he was torturing Rey, we got a peek into his bond with Kylo, but, just then the disgraced Jedi cut him into two. After having Snoke display Force powers such as lightning and mental manipulation besides the way he tortured Rey, this end was as if someone suddenly flicked off the power switch. How is it possible that such a powerful Force user and mental manipulator turned out to be so vulnerable? Johnson showed that Snoke was nothing of the level of some Supreme Leader.
The end sequence of The Force Awakens at the Starkiller Base showed Phasma to be absolutely useless. She somehow stayed alive, and we all felt that she would have a grander role to play in The Last Jedi. Sadly, she was just a plot device to give Finn some heroism. During the attack on Snoke’s flagship Supremacy, they had a very short and ordinary battle which ended in apparently Phasma’s fall to a burning death.
It was absolutely disappointing to see how Johnson didn’t utilize Phasma’s character, which we have seen in the comic books. In the books, we saw her real character and the way she considered the First Order as just a means of survival. But, the film showed her as a clumsy menial villain incapable of anything big. Phasma was nothing but a new Boba Fett, an impressive looking foot soldier who doesn’t make any impact on the narrative. The worst part is the realization that she could have been the first major female villain in the Star Wars saga.
Finn and Rose embarked on a mission to find a hacker who could help them get on to Snoke’s ship Supremacy, and they had to contend with the prison escapee DJ. He was a hired assassin who gave impression that he might turn out to be a major supporter of the Resistance. However, Johnson chose to take the familiar route wherein he traded the Resistance’s plan to escape to Crait when they were all caught on board Supremacy.
This turn of events is a blatant imitation of the Lando Calrissian bit from The Empire Strikes Back when he had sold out Han Solo on Cloud City by handing him over to Darth Vader. This is not only unoriginal but, lousy writing from Johnson and he totally wasted the appeal of Benicio Del Toro and the potential that D.J. as an anti-hero character might have displayed. It would have shown that even petty mercenaries considered the First Order to be evil and highlighting Snoke and Kylo’s galactic villainy.
In The Force Awakens, Kylo appeared to be “whiny, “emo” and was called even “bratty,” which are not the titles you want to give to your lead villain. Hardly anything improved in The Last Jedi as the film showed no growth for him. He was shown to be just an impulsive and incapable leader, especially when he took over the First Order and battled Luke on Crait. His biggest folly was that there had been no emotional link established with him.
There were no detailed scenes showing him being trained by Luke to understand in detail how they drifted apart and what made Kylo so dark and hateful. In essence, we have no clue as to what kind of a person he was as Ben Solo and why he had so much resentment towards Han and Leia, and what drove him into Snoke’s fold. The new films only focus on Kylo’s conflict between the Light and the Dark, but, failed to add any substance to such elements and the ignorance of his relationships with Luke and Snoke deprive his character of an identity. A more detailed flashback depicting his destruction of Luke’s Jedi Order or his joining the Knights of Ren would have given him a more sinister presence, but, as of now, he is nothing like Vader, he is only a tantrum throwing kid.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been written and directed by Rian Johnson and the movie stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa.