The Last Jedi trailer brought with it some new additions to the Star Wars Universe,
Another blown-up X-Wing, a bunch of red dust and Rey’s incredibly splayed fingers — seriously, rewatch the trailer.
Out of everything we saw though, the one thing that got the most attention was Kylo Ren’s scar change. If you missed the uproar, fans were angry about Rian Johnson’s decision to turn the mashed up gash Ray carved up his face in Episode 7 to a sleek, sexy cut over his eye.
At first, I wasn’t really sure what the fuss was about, but after talking this over on the second episode of the Two Honest Guys podcast, I came to the realisation it isn’t a great move on the behalf the filmmakers.
Sure, it’s a tiny change, but everything has an impact in the world of Star Wars.
So, what’s our beef with this whole scar thing?
Kylo Ren’s Scar Change Messed With His Characterisation
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has its flaws, but you can’t argue that it sets up the new trilogy’s characters brilliantly. We get a real sense of who Fin, Rey and even Poe really are.
But, for me at least, the film does the best job at fleshing out one particular role: Kylo Ren.
His introduction gives us a hint into his callous nature, but as we move into the depths of the story, we see more sides to him; his inner conflict, his immaturity and his desperate desires.
One thing I adore about Kylo Ren is that they cast Adam Driver in the role.
Now, I am not here to bash Driver, but he isn’t traditionally handsome. He isn’t your Hollywood hunk or charming teen heart-throb.
He looks like a twisted, wannabe Sith would look. As Ryan likes to call him, Snape 2.0.
His appearance fits so brilliantly with the character that it makes his struggle that much more engaging and believable. You feel he is an outcast, somebody who could become unhinged.
Let me use Mr Andrew Garfield as an example of how this works in reverse. This tall, handsome guy that is so effortlessly cool was brought in to play the nerdy, down-on-his-luck everyman Peter Parker. And it did not work. He was just too damn Hollywood!
So Driver then, is the perfect match for Ren. It is the perfect characterisation.
The scar, though, is a slap in the face for this characterisation.
If they had kept the wound he had, he’d have looked weird, super out of place and it would have added to his outcast, twisted nature.
Instead, they’ve opted for something sleek and Hollywood, something that goes against the very nature of the character they’ve built. It doesn’t totally destroy who he is, but it is detrimental. It moves him away from the raw, realistic mess we’ve come to love.
Kylo Ren is not smooth, he is not sexy, he is not Hollywood. He is dirty, he is rough and he is fucked up, just like the massive gash Rey tore up his face.
It Buggers Up Continuity
The simple matter is this: when we watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we see Rey and Kylo Ren duel in the ash covered forest of Starkiller Base.
Eventually Rey gets the upper hand and uses her force skills to tear Ren apart, leaving him with a gruesome and obvious cut up his right cheek and forehead.
This war-wound is plain to see. It isn’t uncertain exactly what damage Rey did, we literally see Kylo Ren laying on the ground with a massive gash up his face.
Fast forward to Last Jedi though, and now he has a scar somewhere else and his facial wound from The Force Awakens has completely healed.
During the media circus surrounding the trailer release, where everyone bemoaned the weird Kylo Ren scar change, we were all made painfully aware that it was a decision made because it made the character look goofy.
But what happens 10, 20 years down the line? Or if you watch these films and don’t read movie news websites?
What happens is you are watching a movie where a character gets carved up, go to the next one and they’re looking totally different, but you don’t know why.
The change in continuity is not only confusing, but it breaks immersion.
It might be a small change, but it is noticeable. As a result, it is going to take people out of the movie, sending them to Google to figure out what the f*** happened.
That isn’t good storytelling, when you need Google to help fight your battles. Especially not for an epic space opera like Star Wars, where immersion is key.
It Sets an Unwelcome Precedent
When you put something on screen like that battle between Rey and Ren, you commit to it. It’s in the annals of history now, you can’t rewrite it.
Well, you can. You could George Lucas the hell out of it. Because people loved that, right?
I get the feeling this is a very ‘George Lucas’ thing to do. The director has gone, I don’t like this, I’m going to fix it because I have that control.
Yeah, he hasn’t gone back into the movie and made some CGI edits, but he has taken something we know and made it fit with his ideas.
But where does this stop?
Part of the Star Wars experience is getting wrapped up in that world, in that inter-planetary experience. As a result, millions of people invest a huge amount of themselves in this world.
It’s no secret how dedicated fans can be to the Star Wars series. People worship the actors, hold the movies high above anything else put to film and delve deep into the backstories and extended Universe that grows from the movie saga.
What this means then is that everything put on the screen is important. Somewhere there will be a fan-fiction, a prequel story, a comic spin-off about every element in that movie, such is the total investment experienced by the fanbase.
Did you know that they did a — now defunct — series of comics that followed the adventures of every alien seen the Mos Eisley Cantina in Episode 4?
This is total story immersion at its finest.
But then something like this happens. They take an established element and they change it because they can.
No, it doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly swap John Boyega out for another actor and hope nobody notices, but it does mean they may see it fit to tweak other aspects of the movie to fit their narrative or ideas.
The little things are important to a series like Star Wars. They are what get people invested to the level they do.
Changing things like this discourages such investment.
Disney, the producers, Rian Johnson and especially Star Wars episode 9 director Colin Trevorrow need to commit to what is on screen. To accept what choices have been made and not bend them to find their new ideas.
This is a world that is far too important to too many people to go messing around with.
It Softens the Violence in an Already Bloodless World
Star Wars is a universe full of life, but where very little blood is pumping.
There is a reason for this, of course. Lasers and lightsabers instantly cauterize wounds, and when you take them out of the equation, there isn’t much violence left.
I mean, there is another reason. These, as George Lucas so eloquently put it, are children’s movies. You can’t have blood and gore in a movie that is fun for the whole family, and we adults who adore the franchise have come to accept that.
Most of us wouldn’t, after all, be such big fans if weren’t introduced as children, and you won’t find many parents willing to let their 10 year olds watch Rambo, so a bloodless world is how Star Wars will stay.
Still, a bit of violence in a movie like this does make things more tense, more visceral and adds an element of excitement. Kylo Ren’s wound was about as violent and visceral as it comes in this world. It was a sharp bit of edge to an otherwise dull knife. I mean, just look at it.
Now, that knife is completely blunt, because they’ve taken away the one bit of carnage it actually caused.
I am happy to accept a world in which bloodshed isn’t part of the landscape.
I think Star Wars might lose a bit of its charm if an arm comes off, as does enough blood to soak Carrie twice over. But, from time-to-time, t is nice to get a taste of that rough and raw realism that we all know must exist behind the shiny lightsabers and romanticised plots.
Removing Ren’s violent scar and making it more PG is like bleeping over the one swear word you’re allowed to sidle into a kids film.
We aren’t asking for much, but give us something!
Is this the first step to Disney ruining Star Wars? Probably not. But it’s a strange way to go about making the 8th movie in the franchise. If you want more Star Wars content, check out our movie category for the latest movie news of 2017.
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.