Disney has made me SOOO happy over the past few years with their mega-franchises, Star Wars and Marvel. Marvel has slowly but gradually become more and more entertaining over the years and Star Wars, well, Star Wars is the best. One thing Star Wars always had better than Marvel however were the villains. Marvel’s villain conundrum was the franchise’s main setback and made the films a little boring to watch because at the end of the day I knew, somehow, with every film that the heroes were going to win. Now, Marvel crafted a perfect formula at shaking things up and keeping the films fun and interesting but that’s exactly what it was; a formula that was never shaken or eradicated.
Star Wars on the other hand truly allows creative freedom to the movies’ individual creators and that was almost to a fault, for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were so different from each other that a lot of people rebuked the new direction the current Star Wars trilogy had headed and that slightly hurt the franchise.
With Avengers: Infinity War that formula was flipped on its head as the MCU finally created a villain that not only was compelling and memorable but so powerful that the heroes, no matter what they did, couldn’t defeat him! It was honestly one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Thanos was basically a ridiculously difficult endgame boss brought to the big screen. Um…awesome!
And then The Last Jedi helped elevate Kylo Ren to a level where he wasn’t looked at as just a villain but as an individual who had just as much of a compelling storyline as Rey which isn’t usually seen in movies. At the end of The Force Awakens I despised Kylo Ren with all my being but by the end of The Last Jedi he was my favorite character of the current trilogy and that is a huge transition achieved by fantastic storytelling on Rian Johnson’s part. So…which villain is greater? Well, I’m going to base this analysis off of five criteria; design, villainy, storyline, victories, and music. I hope you enjoy. 🙂
As cool as Thanos is his outfit is surprisingly boring. There aren’t any fancy collars or designs, he rid himself of his golden armor at the beginning of the movie and I still don’t know exactly why, and the colors of his clothing aren’t great contrasts to his purple skin. Now I like the gold in the clothes because it provides that regal air of a land that once flourished but besides that his outfit is okay.
I don’t know how many times I stare at Kylo Ren in awe simply because he looks so ridiculously cool. His dark hair perfectly melds with the blackness of his clothes which then impeccably contrasts with the paleness of his face. His boots are shiny and lovely. His clothes are tailored to perfection. And have you ever looked at the fabric used for his clothes? It’s kind of amazing. And his gloves, oh my goodness, can I have a pair?
They are positively the coolest black leather gloves I have ever seen. Kylo Ren clearly wins this category.
Kylo Ren: 1 pt
Is Thanos evil? Of course he’s evil…but he’s not trying to be. In his mind he is doing what he thinks is right for the universe and to him everyone fighting against him are the ones who are evil. One of the strangest scenes in Infinity War is when it shows a flashback of what happened to Gamora’s planet. As he teaches a young Gamora how to balance a knife on her finger like a doting father you can see, in the background, half of her people being slaughtered by his army. It’s a shot that shows how sweet and ruthless he can be all at once and kind of sets the tone of who he is without having to go too deep into his own personal backstory. *shudder* That’s a chilling scene.
In The Force Awakens it was pretty clear how evil Kylo Ren was. I mean, who kills their own father? Um…an evil person. But The Last Jedi only muddled that view of him by victimizing him and showing him in a light that revealed another side of him so far to the left that at times it seemed like he was a good guy. At the end of the day he was still, unfortunately, a villain as he tried to eradicate the Resistance once and for all and tried to kill his uncle (which I completely understand considering what Luke did to him all those years ago.) He also said he’s going to try to destroy Rey, the Jedi, and everything that has to do with the old ways of the Force. But is he? Hmm.
I’d have to say Thanos wins this category because while Kylo Ren has committed some terrible atrocities he honestly feels bad for the things that he has done and has just as much potential to go good as to stay rooted in darkness. Thanos, on the other hand, is set in his genocidal ways and he’ll never not be evil so he’s definitely more villainous.
Thanos: 1 pt.
Kylo Ren: 1 pt.
Thanos didn’t need a small debut in a previous Marvel film to set up his story. He just showed up kicking butt and taking names (or Infinity Stones) without a proper introduction. As the movie progressed more details about the Mad Titan were revealed; like his genuine love for his daughter Gamora, his annihilation of his home planet to prevent the eradication of his people, and his quest for galactic cleansing. And that’s why he was so great.
Part of the reason why he was such a fantastic villain in Infinity War was that the writers wrote him up not as a character who we should immediately despise but they showed us the world through his eyes. They showed us the goal he was trying to achieve and why he was trying to achieve it so as our heroes fought to protect life as they knew it we of course rooted for them to win but you also looked at Thanos as a hero in his own right trying to complete his mission as well. Not that I agree with Thanos’s mission. I don’t in the slightest and that’s why it was so horrific to see him actually win. But I understand him and villains are the greatest when we can comprehend their motives.
Kylo Ren wasn’t given much of a storyline in The Force Awakens. He was just the main villain terrorizing the heroes and ultimately becoming the character who would kill Harrison Ford’s Han Solo out of the Star Wars universe. The Last Jedi finally, however, provided him not only a storyline in the trilogy to follow but a backstory as well as we got to see what thoroughly turned him to the dark side all those years ago.
Kylo Ren’s evolution throughout the trilogy has been fascinating to watch. He went from being just a loyal, faceless First Order assassin who was conflicted with the pull of the Light within him to becoming a Supreme Leader by the end of The Last Jedi. There are rarely villains given that much attention and care in a story and that’s why he’s such a perfect antagonist for these films. He’s literally the anti-Rey and that’s great because when they are together onscreen the movies become so much more riveting.
I’m giving this category to Kylo simply because he’s got so much more going on than Thanos, storywise.
Thanos: 1 pt.
Kylo Ren: 2 pts.
A formidable villain is one who actually manages to defeat the heroes at least one good time. *cough* Thanos beat the heroes over and over again throughout the entire movie. Let’s look at a brief rundown of those wins.
- He wiped out Xandar and took the Power Stone.
- He killed half of the Asgardians, choked Loki to death, and got the Space Stone.
- He obtained the Reality Stone and captured Gamora.
- He tortured Nebula, his captive daughter, forcing Gamora to tell him where the Soul Stone was.
- He went to Vormir where he had to trade Gamora’s soul *sniffle* for the Soul Stone.
- He took the Time Stone after nearly killing Iron Man.
- He turned back time after Scarlet Witch blew Vision to next Tuesday and still ended up retrieving the Mind Stone.
- He snapped his fingers, completing his mission and wiping out half of all life in the galaxy.
That’s a VERY impressive array of victories for Thanos and the reason why he was such a perfect villain for these climactic Avengers movies. Thanos is super scary and it’s going to take some serious power to defeat him. (I can’t wait until next year to see what happens!:))
Kylo Ren has had his various victories as well, for every character that he sets his sights on ends up dead. First there was Han Solo, then Snoke, and then Luke Skywalker who became one with the Force after having to consume all of his energy just to distract Kylo long enough for the Resistance to escape. While his victory list isn’t as extensive as Thanos’s the players that he’s knocked off of the chessboard are pretty big and that makes him just as ruthless, and frightening, as Thanos because now his focus is on Rey. Will she be the fourth to perish in his quest for galactic domination? I truly hope not.
Kylo Ren has had some memorable victories but Thanos was just too unstoppable in Infinity War. This category has another clear winner.
Thanos: 2 pts.
Kylo Ren: 2 pts.
All villains have a special theme that announces their presence instantly in the movie. Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” theme is undoubtedly one of the most iconic villain themes in cinema as it is used for sporting events still to this day and easily recognizable. Thanos’s theme isn’t as grandiose as Darth Vader’s but it’s just as menacing and chill-inducing with its single deep note that announces his arrival with a haunting effect. If you hear that music all I think is, “Run!” Lol. But seriously, that music is awesome and perfectly matches the Mad Titan.
Unlike Thanos’s theme Kylo Ren arrives with horns blaring and music ablaze to proclaim his arrival. And his theme is utilized throughout the various films in unique and exciting ways.
I honestly can’t place one theme on top of the other. Thanos’s music is quiet yet menacing, Kylo’s is bold and apparent but holds a sense of menace as well. This category has a tie.
Thanos: 3 pts.
Kylo Ren: 3 pts.
It’s A Tie!
So I guess I have these villains at a tie. Wow, I’m stunned. Usually there is a winner in these comparison posts that I make but these two villains both have their strengths and their weaknesses and I just couldn’t place one villain above the other because they are so different. Thanos and Kylo Ren have brought me so much happiness in the last year and I can’t wait to see some more Star Wars and Marvel villains just as awesome as them.
I thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I LOVED writing it. Have a lovely day.