the force awakens kylo ren scene

Chances are strong that you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If the film’s record-breaking international opening is any indication, chances are also strong that you saw it multiple times and are ready to start reading spoiler-filled comments from the people responsible for the film. In other words, this is your first warning to amscray if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Go on. Shoo. Go buy a ticket.

Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams, and his fellow screenwriters, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, participated in a Q&A following a screening of the film at the Writer’s Guild of America and they chatted about a whole bunch of stuff. Most notably, they chatted about that one scene where that certain character does something drastic to another character and changes the Star Wars universe forever. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what we’re talking about. Naturally, huge spoilers lurk below and this is your final warning.

We are, of course, talking about The Force Awakens Kylo Ren scene where Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo is struck down by Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, aka his son who turned to the dark side after his Jedi training at the hands of Luke Skywalker went terrible awry. It’s a moment that longtime Star Wars fans probably saw coming (Ford famously wanted Han to die in Return of the Jedi), but that doesn’t diminish its impact at all. Watching one of the most beloved heroes in the history of pop culture bite the bullet, er, the lightsaber, is tough.

Abrams explained to his audience (via Entertainment Weekly) that this movie wasn’t just about the heroic origins of Daisy Ridley‘s Rey and John Boyega‘s Finn – it’s also the origin story for Kylo Ren, capturing the moment where he finally and fully gives into the Dark Side:

“Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain. And not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process.”

Abrams and his collaborators were well aware that Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren/Ben Solo could be a tricky sell. After all, he’s the new villain of the Star Wars saga, which means he has to live in the shadow of Darth Vader by default. He has to do something gnarly to be worthy of this particular pedestal. As Abrams says:

Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something fucking 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.”

Arndt chimed in with another, more blunt thought. If Han Solo doesn’t die in The Force Awakens, then what is the point of him being in the movie? Here he is comparing the character as he appeared in earlier drafts as something of a sexy suitcase:

“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. 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.

For his part, Abrams is well aware of what they’ve done and how huge it is for fans of all ages. You don’t do something like this lightly, even when it feels necessary:

It’s this massive tradeoff. How can we possible do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”

While I have my fair share of quibbles with The Force Awakens, I think the movie nails this scene and it feels earned. Ford, wearing time and history like a cloak, earned our respect and loyalty decades ago. Driver, having already proven himself to be the best and most interesting new character in a movie filled with fantastic new faces, brings all of the necessary raw emotion. Ben Solo/Kylo Ren earns his big moment – a lesser character or a lesser performance may have made Han’s death feel cheap, but Driver is more than up to the task of killing one of everyone’s favorite movie characters and making you care.

And at least they didn’t kill Poe Dameron, too.

What do you think? Go ahead and debate this one in the comments below. If you need more to talk about, make sure you check out our guide to the all of the film’s unanswered questions.

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