Face-Off: Darth Maul vs. Kylo Ren

All right laserbrains, you've had a few weeks to see THE FORCE AWAKENS (and then promptly see it again), so it's time to welcome the new film into the annals of the Face-Off archives. It should go without saying, but here be major spoilers, sweetie. With a new trilogy comes a new villain and, shockingly, feelings are mixed over Kylo Ren, a.k.a. Ben Solo, a.k.a. Emo Vader. A similar dissension surrounded THE PHANTOM MENACE with fans either loving or hating new Sith lord Darth Maul, so this week it's the battle of the non-Vader baddies (sorry, Count Dooku, no one cares) as the mysterious Darth Maul takes on the temperamental Kylo Ren. I have a bad feeling about this.
Portrayed by Ray Park and voiced by Peter Serafinowicz, Darth Maul mostly just scowls and dances around. Park does a great job of embodying the character, to be sure, but there's just not a lot to the character from an acting standpoint.
Without a doubt the most surprising casting in THE FORCE AWAKENS, mumblecore notable Adam Driver takes on the role of main villain Kylo Ren. While there's plenty of pouting and angst here, Driver's performance contains several understated moments, bringing a new tone to the STAR WARS universe.
A Dathomirian Zabrak Sith lord (yeah, what?), Darth Maul sports red and black skin, a crown of horns, and black, hooded robes. Maul's look helps make him one of the more interesting and memorable prequel characters, and it's nice to see a non-human wielding a lightsaber for once.
Kylo Ren sports long, flowing black robes and a metallic, Darth Vader-inspired mask. On one hand, it's not a unique enough look to be terribly exciting, but on the other, it's a character who's trying to emulate the all too recognizable Vader, so the balance of familiar and new is appropriate.
Ah, the classic double-bladed saber. This was one of those rare moments when you saw it and thought, "of course! How obvious!" Elegant and stylish, Darth Maul's lightsaber is also very practical (if you know how to use it), as evidenced in his battle against Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
Kylo Ren's lightsaber definitely feels like a forced attempt to do something new, but again, it makes perfect sense for the character, who's more interested in style than practicality. That said, it keeps the hilted saber from being anything earth-shattering.
Butterfly kicks and flips and shit! Darth Maul's entire fighting style revolves around acrobatics, with his weapon operating almost as an extension of his body. Say what you will about the prequels, but Darth Maul's moves make the Obi-Wan/Vader showdown from the first film look like a slap fight.
Other than a couple saber flourishes, Kylo Ren's moves are fairly standard with a focus on swashbuckling and a bit of the Force. Hoping for an INCREDIBLES moment in Episode VIII when he gets sucked into a TIE fighter engine scarf first.
As above, Darth Maul focuses relies very little on the Force. There's the occasional telekinetic display, but it's mostly swordplay and cartwheels... which, really, thank the maker Maul didn't have an arsenal of Force abilities to boot, or Obi-Wan would have been bantha fodder.
Motherf*cker freezes a blaster bolt in mid-air. This plus immobilizing people and extracting information from their minds are all versions of Force abilities we've seen before, but the amplified, new take on them make Ren's powers feel exciting without seeming like a desperate attempt to shove new abilities into the mix.

He's... a... guy?

Okay, to be fair, Darth Maul's lack of story is deliberate and adds to the mystique of the character, but it ultimately keeps him from progressing past the role of generic bad guy.
Grandson to Darth Vader and son to Leia Organa and Han Solo, Kylo Ren trained under his uncle, Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi. Eventually seduced to the Dark Side by Supreme Leader Snoke, Ren destroyed the new generation of Jedi, murdered his father, and is hellbent on finding and killing Uncle Luke. In other words, Kylo Ren is kind of a dick.
Well, you probably called it, but it was worth a look with Darth Maul being one of the most well-liked elements of a disliked movie and Kylo Ren being a bit of a weak point for some in an otherwise strong film. I personally think Kylo Ren is a great addition to the STAR WARS canon, and I look forward to seeing more of him in the coming films. I also look forward to seeing him die a painful death, because you don't kill Han Solo and get away with it- I don't care how bad your daddy issues are. Who do you think will get the honor? Rey? Luke? Leia? Chewie?! All of the above in an hour-long torture sequence? We'll have to wait until at least 2017 (but most likely 2019) to find out. In the meantime, just because I can't stop watching it:

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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