Flashback! November 28, 2014. A simpler time, when everything seemed just a little bit brighter than it does today. This was especially true when considering the fact that the first teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, had just dropped. Ah, remember the lovely butterflies in your stomach as it started playing?
The trailer had a collection of fantastic images: a Stormtrooper sans-helmet panicking in the desert, a soccer-ball droid rolling across the screen, a lone girl riding a speeder at breakneck speed, a pilot in an X-Wing skimming along the water and a shadowy figure skulking in the snow-laden forest, igniting a glowing red lightsaber with twin flaming spears flaring up from the sides. Wait… What. Was. That?
If you remember, the Internet lost it’s mind when this medieval-esque weapon was revealed. We would come to learn that this cloaked person was no ordinary Jedi and that was no ordinary lightsaber.
Kylo Ren’s now infamous blade has become synonymous with the sequel trilogy. However, we bet there’s a lot more to it than you could have imagined.
Here are the 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber.
17. It’s An Old Design
While these new movies are set in the present (well, the present for a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), Kylo actually reached into the past to design his weapon of choice.
Thousands of years ago, there was a battle known as The Great Scourge of Malachor between the Jedi Order and the Sith Empire. The Jedi attacked a Sith temple and large battle station, activating the deadly weapon which petrified Jedi and Sith alike. In Star Wars Rebels, these remains would later be discovered, along with a green lightsaber with blazing crossguards.
16. Built With An “Inexperienced Hand”
While the design for the weapon may be old, the technology inside the lightsaber is very new. Kylo’s lightsaber is built with modern parts, trying to make it as close to a real working lightsaber as possible.
However, according to The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, it was built with an “inexperienced hand” and contains many problems inside its core. People have speculated that because Kylo didn’t finish his training, as he was seduced by Snoke to the dark side, he never learned the ability to properly build his own weapon.
15. The Cracked Kyber Crystal
It’s not just inexperience in building his weapon that hindered Kylo in his quest to become a Master Jedi; he also was working with inadequate parts.
A lightsaber is powered by a Kyber Crystal, which are force-attuned crystals that focus energy. They are the heart of a lightsaber and you can’t construct one without it.
Sadly, the one Kylo had was cracked. According to The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, “The stressed crystal barely contains the power of the weapon, necessitating lateral plasma vents.” This cracked crystal is what gives the lightsaber its infamous shape and explains those plasma crossguards. It’s also why they appear after the main blade, since they are diverting the extra heat from the weapon.
14. The Color Of Evil
Ever wonder why Jedi get a plethora of colored lightsabers (blue, green and, if you’re Samuel L. Jackson, purple) but Sith Lords always carry red ones? Turns out, it’s no coincidence.
Part of training to be a Jedi is hunting for your own Kyber crystal in order to build your first lightsaber. As mentioned, these crystals are actually alive and will only reveal themselves to members of the light side. As we learned in the Star Wars canon novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, these crystals then turn from colorless to a specific color once found. However, A Sith Lord has to steal one, and when used with evil it “bleeds” or turns red.
13. The Power Of A Crossguard
Great sword fighting takes years of practice and turning every opportunity in to an advantage. It turns out that one of those big opportunities are the crossguards on a sword.
Time for sword fighting 101: For straight-up sword fighting, the use of crossguards are one of the most important parts of the battle. These bars, placed at right angles between the blade and the hilt of a sword, stops an opponent’s blade from sliding down and injuring the hand of the sword fighter. They can also be used to block a powerful swing, giving precious moments to take the upper hand in battle.
12. What Are Those Things Called?
We thought it might be fun here to give a little history lesson, so you can drop some knowledge on your friends when you go to see Star Wars.
The first use of the crossguard was by the Huns, with a design they called the Pontic Sword. However, the sword didn’t become truly popular until the 10th century, when it spread throughout Europe.
Early crossguards were actually just straight metal bars, but became more advanced throughout the middle ages. This is why all those pictures of great knights on horseback have swords with crossbars, while pictures of, say, ancient Samurai do not.
Plus, if you’re looking for one more fun fact, those crossguards are actually known as quillons, an ancient medical word. In fact, quillons are actually what those now famous handle-blades of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber are called in the official canon description of the lightsaber. Neat!
11. Where Did A Crossguard Lightsaber Come From?
Long before making its way into the movies, the crossguard lightsaber actually appeared in Star Wars comics.
The first example of a two-bladed lightsaber can be traced back to 2004, in the comic Republic 61: Dead End. Here, Jedi Master and General Roblio Darté used a forked lightsaber with the second plasma beam angled at 45-degrees from the main blade. It still worked as a crossguard, just in a different way.
We wouldn’t actually get the true medieval-looking crossguard lightsaber until Kylo Ren’s saber. This style of weapon has now made its way onto shows like Star Wars Rebels and video games like Star Wars: The Old Republic. While it made for a nice surprise at the time, the crossguard is now part of any Star Wars fan’s vocabulary.
10. The Destructive Force Of A Lightsaber
Now, we all know that Kylo Ren was tempted to the Dark Side by Snoke while training with Luke. We also know that it was him and the Knights of Ren who killed the other trainees, but did you know that Ren did it with his own two hands? Well, his own hands, holding that famous lightsaber.
According to The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, “Kylo Ren betrayed the other Jedi students studying with Master Luke Skywalker, and was responsible for their destruction. He has well earned the nickname ‘Jedi Killer’, whispered in the First Order ranks, as it was his deadly lightsaber skills that prevented the return of the Jedi Order.”
9. Designed by Apple?
Kylo Ren’s now-famous makeshift lightsaber was created by writer/director J.J. Abrams and his design team for The Force Awakens. Despite this, even professionals can get help from their peers. And, arguably, there’s no better geniuses of design than Apple.
According to The New Yorker, Abrams once sat next to Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jonathan Ive, who gave specific thoughts on what this lightsaber might look like: “I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty,” said Ive, “(The weapon could be) more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous.”
8. It Didn’t Always Look That Way
Props for movies – especially things like ships, creatures and weapons – will always go through multiple changes before the finished product is released. Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is no exception. His laser sword went through multiple drafts and revisions before settling on the style we know today.
One of the last designs before settling on the final version actually had the vents on the side closed off. This would have given the lightsaber a more traditional crossguard, made of metal with hidden plasma underneath it. This design would have made Ren’s weapon look like a legitimate sword hilt.
7. Sit Down, Internet
One of the biggest theories about The Force Awakens was that, during the final fight with Rey, Kylo’s lightsaber was cut in half.
In the film, it’s arguably hard to tell. She does hit the weapon, as it falls out out Kylo’s hand and shuts down in the process. But unlike Luke’s, Vader’s, or Mace Windu’s hands, nothing gets cut off in this situation.
According to The Force Awakens script: “Ren gets up again but she hits his saber’s hilt — hisbalde goes flying off, tumbling in to the snow.” Also, according to the novelization: “He still took the full force of the strike against the shaft of his own lightsaber. The weapon went flying into the snow.”
6. Red, The Color Of Weakness
We already talked about how all tempted Jedi led down the path of darkness are forced to use red lighsabers, but it seems like that means they’re using the weakest one too.
University of Leicester student Luke Willcocks dropped some serious geek science on the world. In the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, Willcocks calculated the relative strength of different colors of lighsabers, based on the assumptions that the lighsabers produce pure photonic energy and are the same size.
The strongest ended up being Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber, which is obviously also the coolest. The weakest lightsabers were determined to be all of the Sith’s red ones. This implies that the corruption of the kyber crystals inherently weakens them as well. Seriously, why didn’t we learn science like this in elementary school?
5. What’s That Sound?
It’s not just the look of the new lightsaber that people find unnerving, it’s also the noise it makes. When Kylo activated his lightsaber, there’s that familiar hum mixed in with something else – a popping and fizzling that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. It’s an awful sound, and that’s on purpose.
Mathew Wood, Supervising Sound Editor for The Force Awakens, said the sound for Kylo’s first lightsaber was inspired by ominous items like chainsaws and flamethrowers: “It looks like it was put together by an amateur,” says Woods to The Tech Insider. “It sputters when it turns on, so the sound we wanted to have that unfinished kind of sputtery electric quality. And, also, menacing. We wanted it to sound dangerous.”
4. Obi-Wan Is Not A Fan
Kylo Ren’s lightsaber has caused possibly more contention in this new series than anything else (if we, of course, ignore the fact that the amazing hero is a girl and a Stormtrooper can be black. You know, obviously.). It turns out, it’s not just the fans who are weighing in.
Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan in the prequels, has outright stated that he hates Kylo’s saber of choice in an interview with MTV: “You don’t need hilts. If you know how to handle a lightsaber, you don’t need a silly hilt,” he said. “We managed very well, the Jedi order managed very well without hilts for hundreds of millions of years.”
3. A Man Is Only As Good As His Weapon
On the other hand, there are some pretty talented people who will fight to the death for this new lightsaber.
Doug Chiang, one of the concept artists for The Force Awakens, says that Kylo’s lightsaber was designed to tell you all you need to know about the character: “Early on, J.J. had always described Kylo as this next-generation villain who’s going to be as bad as Vader, and as powerful. And he said, he’s kind of like a knight, a dark knight. So it works well, that the blade has a crossguard. You bring in those little elements that start to reflect the character. I love it when designs can do that, inform who the character is,” he told Yahoo.
2. J.J. Abrams enjoys the controversy it causes
J. J. Abrams wrote and directed The Force Awakens and worked directly with the Star Wars team to create Kylo’s lightsaber. He’s also enjoying the controversy around it: “It was a number of conversations (that led to what the weapon would look like)… It’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse,” he told Collider.
He went on to say that, “What’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have both defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics… and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you… It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing.”
1. Kylo Ren’s Brand New Lightsaber
Now, we promised at the start of this article that there would be no spoilers, and we meant it. We don’t care if you’ve seen the new film or not, we’re not giving anything away that you can’t watch in the trailers.
So, all we’ll say is exactly what you’ve seen. Yes, Kylo has a new lightsaber, with a sleek handle and updated technology. Fear not though – or prepare to get furious once again – as the crossguards remain, even with the updated tech. It’s part of who Kylo is and it’s clearly not going away anytime soon.
Also, as depicted in the latest trailer, Rey does get a chance to wield the weapon, and she does it like a champion. Honestly though, she could be fighting with anything and she would still be an epic hero.
Did we miss your favorite aspect about Kylo Ren’s lightsaber from Star Wars? Let us know in the comments!
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