[Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has surpassed every milestone thus far at the box office after receiving highly positive reviews from fans and critics alike. The franchise successfully merged the heroes from the original trilogy with a new generation of exciting and engaging heroes and villains. Among these new characters, Kylo Ren was one of the biggest mysteries - who he was, what his birth name was, and what his role was in the story would be.
Once The Force Awakens debuted, many parts of Kylo Ren's backstory were revealed. As a result, his character is one of the most complex and three-dimensional portrayals in the movie. The audience learned that the young villain is actually the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, and that he trained to be a Jedi under Luke Skywalker. However, much like his grandfather Darth Vader, he was seduced by the dark side of the Force, and destroyed Luke's vision. While Luke went into self-imposed exile, his former apprentice took on the mantle of Kylo Ren, joining the Knights of Ren under Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order.
Kylo Ren uses his Force abilities to aid the First Order, as he seeks a map that will take him to Luke Skywalker in order to finish his grandfather's quest to destroy the last Jedi. His brutality and ruthlessness is demonstrated both when he commands an entire village to be destroyed on Jakku and when he uses the Force to torture Poe Dameron and Rey. His fiery temperament appears to be both a weakness and a strength, as he draws on his emotions to use the dark side of the Force.
At the emotional and dramatic climax of The Force Awakens, Ren kills his father as Rey and Finn look on in horror. Kylo Ren proceeds to defeat Finn in a brief lightsaber duel, which leaves Finn in critical condition. While Kylo Ren is subsequently defeated by Rey in combat, he will certainly return to be a major antagonist in the upcoming Star Wars films, and his actions in this film are sure to be felt throughout the galaxy.
What's in a Name?
There is one small detail about Kylo Ren that answers many questions that Star Wars fans had, and creates interesting parallels between the Star Wars canon and the old Star Wars expanded universe, now called Star Wars Legends. Kylo Ren's given name - that is, the name given to him by his parents Leia and Han - is Ben.
Even within Star Wars movies, this is not the only Ben. Fans of the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, will remember that Ben is the name that Obi-Wan Kenobi uses when he is hiding on Tatooine. While Leia knows him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker knows him as Ben. This is noteworthy, because the name that Han and Leia chose for their son links him to Obi-Wan, the elderly Jedi master whose actions brought together Luke, Han, and Leia in their initial attempt to save the Princess and stop the Death Star.
The connection between the two characters comes from their opposing roles and relationships with Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan was also the Jedi Master of Anakin Skywalker, who became Kylo Ren's idol Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan was killed by Vader in a way that parallels Han himself being killed by Ren.
Perhaps the reason why Leia and Han chose to name their son after Obi-Wan is that, in some ways, Obi-Wan is everything that Han and Leia hoped Ben would be. Ironically, the name becomes everything that he fights against. Obi-Wan was a master of the light side of the Force who ultimately sacrifices himself and becomes more powerful in the Force than Vader can imagine. Ren, in contrast, desires and craves power like a child, and as a result is neither a master nor a martyr.
With a name and a history like that, it is no wonder that Kylo Ren felt that it was necessary to change his name upon joining the Knights of Ren. By changing his name, he rejects both his parents and the light side of the Force.