With a movie universe like Star Wars, one full of a diverse array of strange alien creatures and unusual costumes from a wide variety of planets, designing a character’s appearance is an important part of creating and selling that world. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a lot to live up to, especially in the villain department, and while the evil Kylo Ren certainly has a harrowing visage, he almost looked completely different.
Not only was Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, the hardest character to design, but he almost wound up wearing Captain Phasma’s outfit. During a press conference that we were fortunate enough to be able to cover, director J.J. Abrams talked about this process and said:
The most difficult one [to design] was Kylo Ren. We went through I don’t know how many hundreds and probably thousands of iterations and versions, and one of the great things about that was, the costume for Captain Phasma was designed. That was actually pitched as a Kylo Ren costume originally. For story reasons it didn’t make sense and didn’t work, but we suddenly realized, ‘Oh my God, this is one of the greatest-looking costumes I’ve ever seen.’ And he, then she, became one of my favorite characters in the movie. But the design of Kylo Ren was the most difficult one and when we finally saw the mask and the beginning of that design, it was really instantly clear that was the winner.
Though we’ve only seen these two characters in action in brief snippets, it certainly looks like they made the right choice in regards to design. From what we know about the character, Kylo Ren, and his cronies the Knights of Ren, are a group obsessed with Darth Vader, the Dark Side of the Force, and the ways of the Sith. And while his costume certainly has it’s own unique quirks and design, it obviously pays homage to those obsessions.
As cool as Captain Phamsa’s (played by Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie) chrome plated armor is, it’s a different kind of sinister. Kylo Ren, as he appears in the movie, has more aesthetically in common with the Force wielding villains, and his Vader worship is readily apparent in his garb.
There have always been two sides of villains in Star Wars, those more in tune with the Force and the more bureaucratic, militaristic side. For her part, Phasma appears to be more of a descendent of the latter faction, and from what we know, she’s a military leader, serving at the head of a group of stormtroopers for the First Order, the new evolution of the Galactic Empire.
From the information we have about these two, the way they look certainly fits with their specific roles in the narrative. Though we don’t know anything for sure, we’re getting perilously close to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens on December 18.