J.J. Abrams explains shocking Kylo Ren scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The most shocking scene in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is when Kylo Ren stabs Han Solo through the chest with his lighstaber, thus killing one of the most beloved characters in Sci-Fi/Fantasy history.
From the moment Han Solo stepped onto that bridge, audiences could see his death coming from a mile away, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t shocked. When I saw the movie at an advanced press screening, I heard one of the critics mumble to his friend, “Nah, they can’t kill him.” Then… boom! He died.
There were no gasps, or shrieks, or crying. People were just… shocked.
Earlier in the movie, when Kylo Ren is using the Force to extract the map that leads to Luke Skywalker from Rey’s mind, Rey counterattacks by using the Force to get inside Kylo Ren’s mind. It was the first time audience sees Rey using the Force, which is a big moment for the character. While counterattacking, Rey finds out that Kylo Ren is afraid, but not of her or his father — or the Resistance, for that matter — he’s afraid he will never be as strong as Darth Vader, his grandfather.
That fear of powerlessness is what leads him to killing his father, Han Solo. Kylo Ren had said he could feel the call to the light and then told Han Solo that he feels torn apart. The only way he could rid himself of that feeling was to either relinquish the Dark Side or to accept it wholly.
Obviously, he chose to fully become a Darksider. Which is something audiences understand, but why did they have to kill Han Solo for him to do it?
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history,” Abrams said of Darth Vader during a recent Q&A session. “So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something f — king bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters.”
What Abrams says makes sense. Kylo Ren will never be as menacing — or at least convincing — as Darth Vader, but that doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a worthy villain in his own right.
And Han Solo dying stays inline with Star Wars tradition. Note that in the first movie of each trilogy, a main character dies to move the story forward: Qui-Gon Jinn died in Episode I: The Phantom Menace to allow Obi-Wan Kenobi to train Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan dies in Episode IV: A New Hope to push Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi.
“I had thought Han’s story and Leia’s story was just about them coming back together. At the end of the movie they would have reconciled and gotten over their differences. And you would have said, ‘Okay, bad stuff happened, but at least they’re back together again,” screenwriter Michael Arndt said of the movie’s early drafts.
“J.J. rightly asked, ‘What is Han doing in this movie?’ If we’re not going to have something important and irreversible happen to him, then he kind of feels like luggage. He feels like this great, sexy piece of luggage you have in your movie. But he’s not really evolving. He’s not really pushing the story forward.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize that Han Solo dying had to happen. His character had reached the end of his development and went out admirably. Plus, it the end, Han Solo’s death may not only be a catalyst for Kylo Ren accepting the Dark Side, but may be the reason why Luke Skywalker returns.