Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on December 18th, and Lucasfilm has been slowly but surely generating speculation and excitement about the upcoming film. One character has simultaneously gained quite a bit of attention while remaining shrouded in mystery: the apparent villain and Force-wielder, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). While Kylo Ren has been central to much of the promotion of the film, from the trailers to posters to merchandise, there is very little known about his origins or motivations. Director J. J. Abrams has revealed that Kylo Ren is not his given name, and the level of secrecy around the masked villain has caused some fans to suspect that he is Luke Skywalker (who has been conspicuously missing from trailers).
In the most recent Star Wars promotion, Kylo Ren is featured, being told by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), “Even you have never faced such a test.” Kylo Ren has apparently faced extreme circumstances before, but in this preview, he commences on a new and difficult mission. His mission appears to involve retrieving Anakin/Luke Skywalker’s blue lightsaber, and finding and destroying the “last Jedi,” Luke Skywalker.
Based on information from previews, interviews, and information from Kylo Ren toys and merchandise, we have gathered together everything that we know about Kylo Ren. What we discovered was that Kylo Ren has the potential of being a more intimidating and perhaps even more deadly foe than Darth Vader, with whom he shares a special connection and models himself on.
Here are 10 Reasons Kylo Ren Could Be More Terrifying Than Darth Vader:
He Thinks That Darth Vader’s Failing Was a Lack of Ambition
J. J. Abrams has said that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is part of a generation of new villains who see the Empire’s failure as one of ambition – the Imperial Forces failed because they were not as powerful, large, or ruthless as they needed to be to succeed. This means that Kylo Ren’s approach to the continued war against the Rebel Alliance is to be even more destructive than his predecessors in order to find success where they failed.
He Doesn’t Answer Directly to First Order Generals
Darth Vader operated within the Imperial chain of command, taking orders from Grand Moff Tarkin in Episode IV: A New Hope. In contrast, Kylo Ren and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) of the First Order don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye, and are competing for power, at least according to Domhnall Gleeson. Gleeson noted that his cold and calculating character is directly at odds with Kylo Ren’s explosive personality.
While Kylo Ren does answer to the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), he is not going to modify his plan of attack in order to accommodate General Hux, as Vader might for Tarkin. Kylo Ren operates outside of the structures that control Hux.
He Has the Starkiller On His Side
The Starkiller base’s name is not simply an homage to George Lucas’s original name for the Skywalker family. Abrams claims the Starkiller base is the Death Star of the First Order, but in fact, it is capable of even more destructive power. The Star Wars Databank reveals that it is an icy planet that is both a base of operations and a weapon. But unlike the Death Star, which destroyed planets, the Starkiller destroys star systems, perhaps in a similar fashion to the Star Wars Legends Suncrusher of the Jedi Academy trilogy.
He’s Not a Sith
Abrams has confirmed that Kylo Ren is not a Sith, but instead of a member of the Knights of Ren. Fans have speculated that the Knights of Ren appeared in the canon novel Aftermath, in which three black-robed figures seek out and buy a lightsaber from a merchant who claims that it used to belong to Darth Vader. The Knights of Ren have an interest in the Dark side of the Force, and seem to collect artifacts to study Darth Vader and perhaps other Sith Lords.
However, since Kylo Ren is not a member of the Sith order, he does not necessarily have to follow their tenants, the most significant of which is Darth Bane’s decree called the Rule of Two. This rule dictates that at any given time, there can only be two Sith: a Master and an Apprentice. This means that Kylo Ren could be one of any number of Dark Force users – he could be dangerous and powerful simply because any number of Force-sensitive Knights could be his allies.
He Built His Lightsaber By Himself
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of Kylo Ren’s ensemble is his lightsaber that features exhaust vents that act as crossguards. Since the lightsaber has been unveiled, fans have speculated about its design, its functionality, and its user. The lightsaber is based on an ancient design, but Kylo Ren constructed it himself. Most Jedi build a lightsaber as part of their training, but Kylo Ren’s resourcefulness and self-reliance allowed him to create his lightsaber on his own.
Abrams has said that Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is raw and ragged – a reflection of Kylo Ren itself. Its appearance is different from previous lightsabers, because it seems to be pulsing energy and even giving off sparks.
He’s Young and Reckless
Kylo Ren’s emotional instability has been mentioned multiple times – from his relationship with General Hux to the craftsmanship of his lightsaber, Kylo Ren’s reckless rage has been repeatedly pointed to as being a central part of his character. Since Kylo Ren is so driven by his emotions, how he will react in any given situation is anyone’s guess. His unpredictability and instability make him terrifying.
Kylo Ren is also young enough that he is still learning his place in the world. Abrams describes him as not “fully formed” as Darth Vader is during the original trilogy. Over the course of the new trilogy, Kylo Ren will continue to develop.
He Has a Variety of Skills and Technology At His Disposal
In the brief amount of footage that we have seen of him in the Star Wars trailers and teasers, Kylo Ren has demonstrated that he is a powerful Force-user who is capable of many skills. When Supreme Leader Snoke asks if he has felt an awakening in the Force, Kylo Ren responds simply and ominously with “Yes.” He faces off with both Rey and Finn using his already-iconic lightsaber, utilizes multiple Force techniques, and he uses his First Order Interrogator Droid on Poe Dameron. Over the course of the first film, he will confront each of the heroes, and apparently appears on each of the three main worlds. Judging from the merchandise and Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy, even Kylo Ren’s command shuttle, an Upsilon-class ship, is armed and ready for combat.
Kylo Ren’s action figure features lines of dialogue from the film, revealing that he attempts to persuade a character (believed to be Rey) to join him on the Dark side of the Force. While this may only illustrate Kylo Ren’s confidence in his abilities, it seems that in addition to being a strong warrior, he may also be gifted in the art of persuasion.
He Sees Himself as the Hero
Both J. J. Abrams and Adam Driver have stressed that Kylo Ren’s fanatical drive comes from his unwavering belief that he is the hero of the story. Driver has even gone as far to say that not only does his character believe that his actions are morally justified, but that he himself has never seen his character as evil.
While Darth Vader may view himself as a hero in his story, he is also wracked with guilt and self-loathing over Padmé’s death. Vader’s actions, especially in Episode VI, are called into question when dealing with Luke, and ultimately, he changes his allegiance in order to protect his son because he wants to see himself as a hero.
There Has Never Been a Character Like Him Before
Lawrence Kasdan has written the stories of many characters in the Star Wars universe, and he said that he has never seen a character who is like Kylo Ren. Kasdan, similarly to Abrams and Driver, seems to sympathize with Kylo Ren, and sees Kylo Ren as a complex human who experiences a wide range of emotions, as opposed to a one-dimensional villain. Kasdan reflected, saying that Kylo Ren simply dealing with the emotions that he feels to the best of his ability with what is available to him.
While Kasdan’s comments are vague, he also had to stop himself before revealing too much about Kylo Ren’s character. But with such a powerful endorsement from Kasdan, Kylo Ren is sure to make waves with his big debut.
His Legacy Builds From Vader
Kylo Ren has been described by Abrams as obsessed with Darth Vader. His mask, outfit, and persona emulates Vader as a student of the Dark side of the Force. It seems that he also is involved in collecting artifacts that are related to Darth Vader, including his helmet and lightsabers.
But Kylo Ren does not only want to be Darth Vader – he wants to succeed where Vader has failed and finish what Vader has started. Presumably, this means that he wants to destroy the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker, and even perhaps through that, bring balance to the Force.
Kylo Ren has the opportunity, through his study and obsession with Darth Vader, to learn from Vader’s mistakes. If he truly understands why Darth Vader was great and also why he failed, then Kylo Ren may be more terrifying than Vader ever was.
Is Kylo Ren a horrifying successor to Darth Vader, or is he a Sith wannabe? Let us know in the comments!