We’re being told he’s the “anti-Luke Skywalker,” but what does that mean exactly?
Everyone is the hero of their own story, we’re often told. In the case of Kylo Ren, that seems to be more true than ever. Don’t get us wrong, he’s definitely an antagonist in this film. It’s hard to dress like him in a Star Wars story and not be the bad guy. But, according to the filmmakers this character carries a conviction that what he’s doing is right. Why does he think this way? What specifically are his goals? And why does he wear that mask?
If you’ve been asking these questions, don’t worry. So have we. That’s why we scoured the interwebs for all the latest information about Kylo Ren and posted it in this character guide to let you know everything about Star Wars’ latest bad guy.
[UPDATE 12/8/15] We’ve added very illuminating quotes about Kylo Ren and his mask from writer Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams in the “Is that why he wears a mask?” and “Who’s the guy under the mask?” sections.
Who’s playing him?
Adam Driver, who is best known for his work on the TV show Girls.
What’s Kylo Ren’s deal?
He’s a member of the First Order affiliated group the Knights of Ren, which seems to be comprised of dark side users. As a Knight of Ren, Kylo Ren (which is his name, not his title) definitely seems to be Force capable, he uses a lightsaber, and he also seems to be completely obsessed with Darth Vader to the point where he talks to his burnt remains.
Is that why he wears a mask?
Yes. The mask is definitely Vader inspired. If you look at the back of the helmet it has the same Nazi-esque back piece, only far more close to what the infantry wore:
[UPDATE 12/8/15] According to J.J. Abrams, designing the mask was no easy process:
“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.”
So, why is he so obsessed with Darth Vader?
According to Abrams, “[Ren] is well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film.”
The First Order seems to have made Darth Vader into a messianic figure that martyred himself. It turns out that in the wake of their defeat at Endor, the Empire rewrote history as part of a propaganda program. Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion became the evil insurgents who destroyed the peaceful Empire, and Darth Vader became a symbol of a better time that the First Order is striving to regain.
We’re willing to bet Kylo Ren ate all that propaganda up with a soup spoon, and is thus emulating his hero: Darth Vader.
What’s his real name?
We don’t know.
Who’s the guy under the mask?
[UPDATE 12/8/15] According to Lawrence Kasdan, he’s a very conflicted and emotional character:
“There’s never been a character like Kylo [Ren] in the saga. And no, he hasn’t got all of his s–t together – I would say. And Adam acts it so beautifully, because when you’re looking at him you expect, ‘Oh, this is some evil genius,’ but what you’re getting is all the contradictions and conflict that people feel – that anyone of us could feel at any moment. That’s what’s so amazing about him, and that’s what unique about what Adam has done.”
This is what he looks like without the mask:
Could he really be Luke Skywalker?
Could he be Luke Skywalker’s son?
Now that is far more likely as we’ve discussed before. We don’t know this for certain, but it is a definite possibility.
Could he be Leia’s son?
Also a very distinct possibility. If that were the case, we’re willing to bet Han is the father.
Is he a Sith?
Is he related at all to Rey?
We have speculated on that and we think it’s very, very likely. If they are related, they’ll be either direct siblings or cousins.
What’s with his lightsaber?
According to J.J. Abrams, ““The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character.”
It’s fairly safe to say that in Kylo Ren’s attempts to emulate Vader, he worked hard to create his own lightsaber. However, due to the unstable and haphazard build of the weapon we’re willing to bet he didn’t entirely know what he was doing. Lightsaber construction is most likely a lost art, as all Jedi and Sith records were either destroyed or forgotten. In fact, we’d go so far as to say Kylo Ren is the only Knight of Ren who actually has a lightsaber.
Does he have a ship?
He does! It’s referred to as his “command shuttle” and is Upsilon class, which seems to be an evolution of the Lambda-class shuttles used by the Empire. The shuttle seems to operate from the First Order Star Destroyer Finalizer.
What role will he play in the film?
We know he’ll definitely take part in joining and/or leading First Order troopers in burning down some kind of village. We also know that he’s really interested in Darth Vader paraphernalia, which includes Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber from the Clone Wars, which Finn happens to have in his possession. Kylo Ren will definitely be chasing Finn and Rey, which will ultimately culminate in him fighting Finn in a lightsaber duel in a snowy forest. Aside from that… we’ll just have to see.
Could he be redeemed?
Given the fact he’s based himself off of propaganda, it makes sense that his character arc will have him learn the historical truth behind Darth Vader which will change his perception and character. There are definitely theories out there that make good arguments for that leading to his redemption.
Will he be in Episode VIII?
We don’t know. It hasn’t been officially confirmed. We certainly hope so, as the character seems rich with storytelling possibilities.