The Most Surprising Thing Rian Johnson Got Wrong About Star Wars Villains

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

star wars

As we draw closer and closer to a solo Rey movie, we have been thinking more about the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and its villains. In an old interview, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson revealed he felt compelled to kill the new Snoke because he was interested in “clearing the deck so Kylo can be the main guy.” However, this seems to willfully ignore that Darth Vader became the most iconic Star Wars villain in A New Hope, a movie in which he was mostly a glorified henchman.

Johnson Wanted Kylo Ren As The Main Bad Guy

adam driver fantastic four

Johnson also said in the interview that the director wanted to make Kylo Ren a more compelling Star Wars villain by portraying “someone who takes the reins and steps up and is no longer just pretending to be Vader, but has become his own version of a formidable force.”

Certainly, it made for a bold character choice for the young villain, but we can’t get over Johnson’s belief that Adam Driver’s character couldn’t have been a fascinating bad guy if Snoke was still alive. That idea isn’t just wrong…simply put, it was proven wrong by the very first Star Wars film.

Darth Vader Is A Henchman

If you go back and watch A New Hope, one of the first things you’ll notice is that Darth Vader isn’t the main Star Wars villain. Instead, that honor goes to Grand Moff Tarkin, and the late, great Peter Cushing does a wonderful job bringing the banality of Imperial evil to life. He gives the orders to an always-compliant Vader, and we quickly see that Leia’s claim that Tarkin was holding “Vader’s leash” is more or less correct.

Low On The Imperial Ladder

star wars

Still not convinced that Darth Vader isn’t the main Star Wars villain in A New Hope? Look no further than the scene where he Force chokes Admiral Motti in order to demonstrate the depths of his dark powers. It’s a memorable scene and all, but the very fact that a random admiral has no problem mouthing off to Darth Vader demonstrates how relatively low on the Imperial pecking order he really is.

Vader Is One Of The Most Compelling Villains In History

george lucas disney

Despite this, every Star Wars fan can agree that Darth Vader was still a very effective villain. The presence of other bad guys didn’t matter because Vader himself had a cool design and a creepy presence that instantly spooked audiences of all ages. No “clearing the deck” was needed for Vader because he was a complete and compelling villain from the moment we see him right until the credits roll.

Adam Driver Did His Best

kylo ren jj abrams

That brings us back to what is so weird about Rian Johnson’s claim: simply put, if Kylo Ren was going to be the Star Wars sequels’ main villain, he could have (and should have) been just as compelling as Darth Vader from the very beginning.

Adam Driver was acting his heart out in these films, but there is only so much even the most talented actor can do with awful writing. Johnson seems to think the problem is that Kylo Ren was a crappy villain overshadowed by another Big Bad, but all killing Snoke did was highlight Ren’s own inadequacies as an antagonist.

Regrets Over The Sequel Trilogy

As Star Wars fans, we’re used to having regrets about the sequels, but Johnson’s misunderstanding of the films’ core villain so much is upsetting us all over again. Instead of these movies giving us two underdeveloped villains, the writers could have provided a single interesting bad guy.

Subscribe For

Star Wars News

Expect a confirmation email if you subscribe!