I have been a Star Wars fan and follower since first seeing A New Hope. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I grew up and learn the ways of The Force. Like many kids my age, I collected the toys, wore the clothes,watched the appearances on TV and played “Star Wars” with my friends in my yard.
Now over 30 years later,(I still want to be Luke Skywalker when I grow up!), my fandom for Star Wars has passed on to my two young daughters Alexa (11) and Ava (9). I was finally able to interest my girls two years ago into watching A New Hope. Since then, they became fan-girls. I now see what my fandom for Star Wars must have looked like to my parents when they watched me racing around the house with my X-Wing and Luke Skywalker action figure defending the galaxy from the evil Empire. My girls now play similar games only their “Luke” is now Rey.
My girls were thrilled to learn about the release of The Force Awakens and a new age of Star Wars films.
As images and information trickled out over the next year about Episode VII, my girls and I clambered around the computer taking it all in and speculating. “Who were these characters?” and “What did they do”. And of course, “Where’s Luke?” One of the new and intriguing characters to emerge was the mysterious and dark, “Kylo Ren”. My girls never gave much thought to him even when we braved the Toys R Us crowds on Force Friday to get our fill of the new toys. Among our purchases were two different Kylo Ren figures. We even picked up a full set of Star Wars Christmas ornaments that included a Kylo. We raced home to go through our “loot”. First job at home, however, was to get our new decorations on the tree. Kylo Ren even occupied a prominent spot on the front for all to see, just under his “Grand Father”.
The day of the premiere of The Force Awakens finally came! We were so excited, having purchased our tickets a month earlier for the first showing. As those familiar words appeared on the screen, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”, we gasped with excitement. J.J. Abrams took us on an exciting, funny and reminiscent adventure through the film…and then we came to the scene where Han Solo confronts his son, Ben (aka: Kylo Ren) on that bridge inside Starkiller Base.
Like everyone in the theater, we watched in tense silence as Han pleaded with his “fallen” son to “Come home.” I had a feeling that this was the film that Han Solo was going to die, and at that moment realized it would come at the hands of Kylo Ren. As Kylo put his lightsaber through Han, I quickly looked over at my girls. Both were in shock, but my oldest daughter teared up. Her face was without much emotion after that up until the point where we finally got to see – Luke! The sorrow on her face now turned to a smiling euphoria.
Alexa and I have viewed the film 8 times in theaters and she cries every time.
We discussed the film on the way home and I started to see a glimpse of what was to come from my daughter’s thought NOW, on Kylo Ren. As soon as we got home, she immediately took the Kylo Ren ornament off the tree. I made her put it back. She reluctantly placed it back on the tree but in her defiance, covered it up.(see pic below of the Kylo ornament covered)
All pictures of Kylo Ren were taken down from her room, her iPad or anywhere else visible. She even wanted to get rid of the figures we purchased that day at Toys R Us! Later in the week, I was talking with her and praising the performance of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. It was only then that I realized, because Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren…
My daughter Alexa, is ANGRY at Adam Driver?
Of course, this is an emotion coming from her feelings of heart break over losing Han. I mean, we all had Han Solo around for over 30 years and she only had him for 2!
The brilliant and complex performance from Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens was so effective that the anger my daughter had for Ren, extended to the actor that played him. I have tried everything since then to plead the case for Adam Driver and his “goodness” and that he is not like Ren. I talked about his upbringing and how he sang in the church choir. I showed her funny videos that he has done. I showed her his military service. We even read about his charity work. Adam Driver is a nice guy who gives so much. That doesn’t matter. My daughter, Alexa, is haunted by the death of Han at “his hands”.
As a child, I can’t ever remember a villain affecting me like this has affected her. When I watched the original trilogy, I never hated Darth Vader. There were times I was afraid of him and what he might do in a scene. Even when he killed Ben Kenobi or took Luke’s hand in that lightsaber battle, my emotions were not so intense as my girl’s.
Clearly, Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren was exceptional!
I have done all I can to convince her that Kylo is not necessarily a “villain” or “bad” (yet) and that Adam Driver certainly is not. I have even threatened to get Driver involved to plead his own case to her. Luckily, my youngest daughter Ava, is unaffected and likes Kylo (and Driver). She will even tease Alexa about her anger towards Kylo!
So, to Adam Driver, if you are reading this…How can I get my daughter to “forgive” you for “killing” Han Solo and realize you are as nice a person in real life as I have claimed. Help me finish, what YOU started!
On a side note, after our eighth viewing of The Force Awakens, my daughter turned to me and said, “If they kill LUKE, I am seriously DONE with Star Wars!” So…here’s hoping I don’t have to write that article Mark Hamill!