from I Am a Stormtrooper
(aka Star Wars books for kids continue to be the best)
Like you can place Finn and Kylo Ren side-by-side and show them both the exact same tableau and they will each get something completely different out of it
For god’s sake, this happened in canon
Kylo and Finn were BOTH ON JAKKU at the EXACT SAME TIME and were looking in the EXACT SAME DIRECTION
Kylo Ren saw a destroyed village burning to the ground and didn’t think anything of it
Finn saw a destroyed village burning to the ground and saw it as abject, like actually fundamentally Wrong, like Offensive To All Senses, even more than being simply cruel and evil (bc remember, he has no reason to believe that this is anything other than normal; expected even)
Like Finn has been conditioned for this, spent his whole life being trained for it, never considering that it was wrong, and it still looked wrong: wrong to the touch, wrong to the eye, wrong in concept and thought and feeling
It was wrong enough to make him flee
Like even beyond the common Nature vs Nurture questions, Finn 100% embodies the concept of justice and goodness sprouting from places where it had no right to live (and conversely, Kylo embodies the concept of having all the required ingredients for greatness [growing up in peacetime, having heroes for relatives, increased access to ideas etc] , and ends up bad anyway)
Finn is the perfect foil for KR and their dynamic yields more than any other, is what I’m saying
Truthfully, my problem with Finn is his decision to leave the First Order makes no sense to me. It was established that he grew up with no family but his fellow Stormtroopers. He is functionally a child soldier. He knows no other morality.
He should not have seen the massacre as wrong. The villagers had just shot several of his friends. Psychologically, he should be fine with massacring them. He should see it as justice.
The fact that he decides to be good for no reason strikes me as frankly lazy writing.
Finn didn’t “decide to be good for no reason”. In the film, he sees his “friend” die and his peers slaughter largely unarmed innocents on behalf of the First Order.
And then in the books (Before the Awakening and Finn’s Story) you get confirmation of the fact that Finn has BEEN a good person. He’s been questioning the validity of the First Order from before he first is exposed to what they’re really like (trying to help Slip is a major sign):
I suggest re-watching The Force Awakens and reading the supplementary material with a stronger focus on Finn because your opinion on him isn’t supported by either of them and, because of the lack of empathy/understanding you show Finn, smacks of the typical racism he’s faced with in this fandom.
You call it lazy writing but your analysis is… beyond flawed and super frustrating as it doesn’t actually mesh with the Finn in canon.
And on top of that: Finn didn’t decide “to be good for no reason”.
He was always good.
That’s kind of the point…
A lot of the complaints about Kylo Ren as a villain is that he lacks Vader’s larger than life evil, he’s too common, too human to be evil. Traits that are used by his stans to argue why he will/must be redeemed.
I would like to point out that both camps, those who hate Kylo Ren for his humaness and those who use it for his defense, has missed the point JJ and Lawrence were trying to make.
Before the events of Before the Awakening, stormtrooper FN-2187 is assigned creche duty. The experience is… illuminating.
The parallels between Finn and Kylo Ren are the most direct (and stark) in terms of toxic masculinity. Finn seems to reject this toxicity, whereas Kylo Ren is constantly hung up on performing and proving himself strong enough. They are opposites: especially evidenced by the way they treat Rey – how they define themselves against the chief female presence of the movie.
Like Finn, Kylo Ren is also interested in and impressed by Rey. (And he also first meets her when she attacks him.) But instead of treating Rey like a person, Kylo acts out of aggression, objectification, and self-centeredness. He immediately immobilizes her, Force-faints her, and then carries her, bridal-style, to his ship: old-fashioned, exploitative, and gross. His language towards her is incredibly patronizing: “So this is the girl I’ve heard so much about…” He proceeds to insult her friends and threaten and torture her: violating her mind, using her as a tool but also relishing the show of his own power and the taking of something personal by force. “I can take what I want” is simultaneously a threat, a statement of power/entitlement, and a declaration of how Kylo fundamentally views Rey: an object, something controllable to serve his purposes. When the tables turn and Rey reads him, he is incredibly shaken by the subversion of his own authority and control, and when she escapes, he storms around looking for her in a blind rage, pursuing her with a weapon. Even as she’s beating him in the ensuing lightsaber battle, he has the gall to mansplain her own power to her: “YOU NEED A TEACHER!”
Unlike Kylo Ren, Finn uses Rey’s name throughout the movie. Kylo never calls her anything but “the girl” or “the scavenger,” even when addressing her. While Finn helps others without question, is vulnerable, and demonstrates affection, humor, feelings, and honesty, Kylo Ren is the opposite – all about projecting his own power and lashing out. He takes himself and his image incredibly seriously, valuing himself over others and their goals, treating underlings callously and with violence. Meanwhile, Finn accepts BB-8 as something deserving of his respect and speaks to the droid like a person.
While Finn easily cooperates with those around him, Kylo competes and chokes and throws tantrums, exchanging insults with Hux and belittling him at every opportunity, locked in a power struggle even with his allies. As Finn resists hurting the innocent and then straight-up defects over this, Kylo Ren is the one who orders their murders and then tortures his captives. Where Finn removes, and then ditches, his helmet at the first opportunity, Kylo Ren clings to his completely unnecessary, fabricated mask — a face that is not his own, versus Finn’s sincerity. It’s a powerful metaphor, putting on another face to become something else, to assume power. To disguise one’s true nature. The dark side, like gender, is performative — and the mask, in this case, is literal.
Beep, beep, boop, boop, beep.