This article contains spoilers for
The Last Jedi and the prequel films
Anakin Skywalker was the force that the galaxy could have never anticipated. Darth Vader is known as one of the top villains of all time. Whether you live on Tatooine or somewhere in Ohio, you’ve probably heard the name and the story associated with it. Anakin was a successful villain but (spoiler alert) at the end of life his own son, Luke Skywalker, convinces him to come back to the light.
Now, Anakin Skywalker’s own grandson is trying desperately to fill his shoes. That was until The Last Jedi hit theaters. It’s possible that Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo rather, now has new goals in mind. Could it be that we’re seeing a redemption arc for Anakin through the eyes of young Ben?
Comparing Ben Solo to Grandpa Anakin
To make this argument, we first have to look at how similar the two are. Fans have been criticizing Kylo Ren from the beginning, complaining that he is not only whiny and short-fused but that he isn’t very intimidating as a Sith. Critics have also scrutinized the idea of Ben Solo being such a Darth Vader fan. It’s a little creepy and it makes it seem like Kylo is only trying to mimic his grandfather.
However, Kylo Ren is very similar to Anakin in ways he wouldn’t even know and, no, it’s not the mask or dress that parallels them.
Anger Runs in the Blood
If we want to talk about the tantrums Kylo Ren throws, let’s remember how crazed Anakin would get growing up. He literally committed genocide after his mother died. Being quick to anger and impatience are both attributes of the Dark Side. Time and time again, Anakin threw fits when he did not get what he wanted or felt restrained.
He also held grudges and made promises of destruction that he did not fulfill until he became Darth Vader. Kylo Ren does this, too. The only difference being that he’s still young and learning.
Direct and Controlling of All Those Around Them
Anakin was known for being a troublemaker. We often saw Obi-Wan struggle to keep his young apprentice humbled because the Padawan would run off on his own to fulfill his definition of success. This is what Master Yoda defines as “the shadow of greed.”
It’s most prominent with his speech, especially when it’s directed towards Padme. In the prequels, we see Anakin being very forward about what he wants from Padme and how he views his philosophy.
Once Kylo Ren began sharing a force link with Rey, we would often see parallels between his dialogue in how he speaks to her. It’s very forward and very leading. Both men want to take control of situations their female counterparts are adamantly against. In particular, Anakin and Kylo Ren both want to create a new order to rule the galaxy. It is something Padme and Rey would have nothing to do with, leading them to ultimately reject Anakin and Kylo Ren.
Missing Father Figures and Failed Mentors
We know that Anakin was created by the midichlorians and has no biological father, which is why he is the strongest Jedi ever. And while Ben does have a father, it’s Han. If you have Han Solo for a father, you may as well have none.
Both have this absence and fill it with their mentors: Obi-Wan and Luke.
As we saw in The Last Jedi, we know Luke has failed Ben terribly as his mentor. And while Obi-Wan never necessarily fails Anakin, the Padawan always makes a point to blame his teacher for his shortcomings and thinks he’s been wronged. This attribute certainly makes it feel as though the two have very similar experiences and attitudes, especially when it comes to their training.
Does this mean that Kylo is Anakin all over again?
Not in the slightest.
While the two are very similar in their personalities and perhaps even their stories, Kylo Ren will not be like Anakin. Of course, Anakin had more power than Kylo Ren, that much is inevitable. But the power shift is not why Kylo Ren cannot achieve what his grandfather did. Ultimately, depending on how the next episode goes, Kylo Ren may just get the redemption arc for Anakin that we never saw.
Darth Vader turned back to the light only after Luke brought him back at the end of the original trilogy. That being said, this was only a mere moment. Darth Vader, a man who had killed so many and had abandoned everything for power and control, was ultimately redeemable thanks to his son, but we never got a full arc for it. Kylo Ren has killed his father, but as we’ve seen, it has shaken him to his very core.
At the end of The Last Jedi, we see Kylo Ren kneeling to Rey, a sadness in his eyes. Does this look like a fearsome Sith Lord? Of course not. Kylo Ren can barely fill the shoes of Snoke, let alone someone as powerful as his grandfather. And while Rey did close the door on him, something this writer wishes Padme had done, I’m not fully convinced she’s given up on him coming back to the light. As a “clone” of his grandfather, Kylo Ren may yet have a redemption arc of truly coming back to the light.
If Episode IX brings the change in Ben Solo that Rey saw in their touch, or perhaps the hope that Leia and Luke had held for him, it could prove to be the other path Anakin failed to take while on his way to becoming Darth Vader.