Kylo Ren

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Kylo Ren
Ben Solo
Star Wars character
Celebration Anaheim - The Force Awakens Exhibit (17206794458).jpg
Kylo Ren's costume at the
2015 Star Wars Celebration
First appearance The Force Awakens (2015)
Created by
Portrayed by Adam Driver
Voiced by Adam Driver (Disney Infinity 3.0, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises)
Information
Full name Ben Solo
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation
Affiliation
  • First Order
  • Knights of Ren
  • New Jedi Order (formerly)
Family
Relatives

Kylo Ren is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. Introduced in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he is portrayed by Adam Driver. Kylo Ren is the chosen name of Ben Solo,[1][2][3] the son of original Star Wars trilogy characters Han Solo and Leia Organa. Though trained by his uncle Luke Skywalker as a Jedi, he has been seduced to the dark side of the Force by Supreme Leader Snoke, and aspires to be as powerful as his grandfather, Darth Vader. Kylo Ren is also the master of the Knights of Ren, and a commander for the First Order, an organization spawned from the fallen Galactic Empire, he is featured in The Force Awakens media and merchandising, and will appear in the film's forthcoming sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

Concept and creation[edit]

After Lucasfilm was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2012, the script for The Force Awakens was written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt, with no direct participation from Star Wars creator George Lucas. According to director Abrams, the First Order is inspired by ODESSA, a theoretical network of SS officers who fled to Argentina following World War II.[4]

Driver's casting in the film in an unnamed role was first announced on April 29, 2014.[5] Kylo Ren was first seen, but still not named, in the 88-second The Force Awakens teaser trailer released by Lucasfilm on November 28, 2014,[6][7] wielding a jagged red lightsaber with a crossguard.[8][9][10] The name Kylo Ren was revealed by Entertainment Weekly in a Lucasfilm-designed Topps-style trading card mockup in December 2014.[11][12] A May 2015 Vanity Fair photo shoot by Annie Leibovitz confirmed that Driver would be portraying Kylo.[13]

In an interview with Time, The Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan said that Abrams requested that Ren's mask be designed to be memorable for a child. After numerous attempts to gain Abrams' approval, the final design was selected. Kaplan said:

I don't know if it was the kind of spaghetti type lines on it or what, but the next time J.J. came by that was what we presented to him and he loved it. Also the silver in those lines kind of reflects and changes color with the action. You know, if he's standing in front of fire you see that, so it almost brings you into the mask.[14]

Abrams told Entertainment Weekly in August 2015, "The movie explains the origins of the mask and where it's from, but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask."[15]

According to other cast members, Driver is a method actor, which meant that he sometimes stayed in character on set as Ren and left his mask on between scenes.[16] Driver explained that his goal was "to forget you're in Star Wars and treat it like any other job that's filled with moments and problems", because from the perspective of the characters living within the film's universe, "Darth Vader is real".[16]

Ren's character arc shares similarities with that of the Star Wars expanded universe character Jacen Solo, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia who threatens the galaxy as a fallen Jedi.[17][18][19][20] Additionally, critics have noted a resemblance between Ren's character design and that of Revan, the protagonist of Knights of the Old Republic.[21][22]

Character[edit]

Abrams told Empire in August 2015, "Kylo Ren is not a Sith, he works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force."[4] Abrams had previously told Entertainment Weekly that the character, "came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren."[15] Robbie Collin of The Telegraph described Ren as "a hot-headed, radicalised Dark Side jihadi, whose red lightsaber splutters and crackles as violently as his temper".[23] Abrams noted, "The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character."[15] The Telegraph also explains that Ren's wild and erratic temper and "angsty" instability make him dangerous.[24] Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast describes Ren's use of the Force "formidable", citing his ability to stop a blaster shot mid-air, immobilize victims and probe their minds against their will.[25]

Kasdan told Entertainment Weekly in August 2015, "I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there's never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays. I think you're going to see something that's brand new to the saga," noting that the character is "full of emotion".[15] Abrams explained, "I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn't as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader ... He is not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy, he is a little bit more complex than that."[15] Driver said in December 2015 that, despite the visual similarities to Darth Vader, Ren is "unlike any villain the franchise has seen before",[26] he explained:

I feel there's a recklessness about him that's maybe not normally associated with the Dark Side. You normally think of order, and structure, and full commitment and no hesitation ... he's just a little bit more unpolished. It's in his costume, in his lightsaber—how you kind of get the sense that it could just not work at any moment; that it could just blow up. That’s kind of like a big metaphor for him.[26]

Appearances[edit]

Model of Kylo's cross-bladed lightsaber on display at Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios (2015).

The Force Awakens (2015)[edit]

Kylo Ren first appears in The Force Awakens as the commander of the First Order, a sinister regime that has risen from the remains of the old Galactic Empire, after arriving at Jakku to retrieve a map containing the co-ordinates for the location of Luke Skywalker, Ren kills an old vicar known as Lor San Tekka and captures Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who has also been sent to recover the map by General Leia Organa. Ren soon learns that the pilot had entrusted his astromech droid, BB-8, with the map. Poe flees with the help of rogue stormtrooper Finn, who later finds BB-8, and the scavenger Rey. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 escape Jakku in the Millennium Falcon, and are soon intercepted by the ship's former owner, Han Solo, and his co-pilot Chewbacca.

It is revealed that Ren is the son of Han and Leia, and was once one of Luke's Jedi pupils, he was drawn to the dark side of the Force by the First Order's Supreme Leader Snoke. He then helped to destroy his uncle Luke's new Jedi Academy. However, Ren still feels the pull of the light side of the Force, and seeks the strength to overcome this weakness from his grandfather Darth Vader, whose burnt helmet is in Ren's possession. Arriving at the Maz Kanata castle, Ren captures Rey, who he senses has seen the map. While interrogating her with the Force, he realizes that she is strong with the Force herself, though unaware of it. Rey finds herself able to experience Ren's emotions, and confronts him on his fear that he will never be as powerful as Vader, she later uses the "Jedi mind trick" to compel her stormtrooper guard to let her escape. Han arrives at the First Order's battle station, Starkiller Base, as part of the Resistance's plan to destroy it.

After Han plants explosives to destroy the base, he confronts Ren, calling him by his real name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side, warning him that Snoke will kill him once he accomplishes his goal to seize control of the galaxy. Ren refuses and kills his father, enraging Chewbacca, Han's copilot, who fires and injures Ren, as Finn and Rey flee the damaged base, a badly injured Ren follows and confronts them. Finn fights Ren with Luke's recovered lightsaber, but Ren overpowers and severely wounds him. Rey then takes up the lightsaber and, using the Force, begins to overcome Ren, before the duel is finished, they are separated by a seismic fissure created by the collapsing base. Rey and the others escape as Snoke orders General Hux to evacuate the base and bring Ren to him to complete his training.

Related works and merchandising[edit]

Kylo Ren is a point of view character in the 2015 novelization of The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster.[27]

He is a playable character in the 2015 Force Awakens add-on to the Disney Infinity 3.0 video game, with an Infinity character figurine available separately.[28][29][30][31] Hasbro has released a 3 34-inch (9.5 cm) Kylo Ren action figure,[32] and a 6-inch (15 cm) figure in their Black Series line.[33] He is also featured in the Lego Star Wars playsets Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle (2015)[34][35] and Battle on Takodana (2016),[36][37] as well as a Lego Buildable Figure.[38] The Lego version of Kylo also appears in the 2016 short form animated series Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises.[39][40][41][42]

In January 2016, Driver reprised the role for a Star Wars/Undercover Boss sketch on Saturday Night Live, with Kylo Ren disguising himself as a radar technician named "Matt" to determine what the Starkiller Base employees really think of him.[43]

Novels[edit]

In the 2017 Chuck Wendig novel Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End, Ben Solo is born on the planet Chandrila, the day a peace treaty is signed between the Empire and the New Galactic Republic.[44]

Reception[edit]

Adam Driver received positive reviews for his performance as Kylo Ren.

Both the character of Kylo Ren and Driver's performance have been positively received. Many complimented Ren's conflicted nature and depth, as well as his costume design, and noted there were many places the character could be taken in future installments.[45][46][47] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the character and the actor alike, saying, "He is gorgeously cruel, spiteful and capricious – and unlike the Vader of old, he is given to petulant temper tantrums, with his lightsaber drawn."[48] Terri Schwartz of IGN also called Driver's performance "spectacular", noting that "his performance adds great depth to a character who could have come off as one-dimensional, and the implications of his arc leave a viewer with plenty to think about after they leave the theater".[49] Collin wrote, "To describe Kylo Ren as this film's Vader would be accurate in a sense ... But it would also be to undersell the deep ingenuity with which this astonishing character has been crafted by Abrams, Kasdan and Arndt, and also the wells of emotional tumult Driver invests in him."[23] Comparing the character to the one-note Vader of the 1977 film, Leon calls Ren "a living battleground between darkness and light, making him a far more resonant and familiar portrayal of that struggle than we've ever seen in Star Wars ... [which] makes him a far more interesting villain."[25] Abrams told Entertainment Weekly, "it was a great joy to work with Adam Driver on this role, because he threw himself into it in a deep and remarkable way."[15] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter noted, "Ren is given a pronounced inferiority complex, a clever bad guy twist that could be taken to interesting places both in the writing and performance."[50] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, "The bald-faced attempt to clone Vader, one of the greatest badasses in film history, is clankingly obvious, but Driver, masked and unmasked, gives him hypnotic and haunting contours."[51] Kyle Buchanan of Vulture.com was underwhelmed by the reveal of Driver under the mask.[52] Leon, however, argued:

But that face—that of a normal, vulnerable young man—is the most subversively terrifying thing about J. J. Abrams' reimagining of A New Hope. Rather than pure evil, Ren is something far more familiar: He is human. Just like the real-life young men with minds clouded by fear, hate, and anger who commit unspeakable acts in our world every day ... all the visual cues that leave the character open to criticisms of not being "evil" enough—are all signs of Ren's struggle between the Dark Side and the Light.[25]

Driver won a 2016 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal.[53]

Family tree[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wendig, Chuck (2017). Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End. Del Rey. ISBN 9781101966976. What is known is this: The child’s name is Ben, and he takes his father’s last name, even as Leia keeps only her own family name, Organa. 
  2. ^ Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Little Golden Book). Golden Books. April 12, 2016. ISBN 9780736434911. 
  3. ^ Dennis, Catrina (May 6, 2016). "Legacy of My Mother: 5 Women Who Changed the Star Wars Galaxy". StarWars.com. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
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  27. ^ Foster, Alan Dean (2015). "Chapter I". The Force Awakens (e-book). ISBN 9781101965504. 
  28. ^ Robertson, Andy (October 12, 2015). "Disney Infinity: The Force Awakens Dated, Adds Kylo Ren And Poe Dameron". Forbes. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  29. ^ Valdes, Giancarlo (December 9, 2015). "Disney Infinity’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens lets John Boyega play with himself". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set for Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Now Available". StarWars.com. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
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  32. ^ Spry, Jeff (August 14, 2015). "Leaked peek at Hasbro's Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and 10 more The Force Awakens action figures". Blastr. Retrieved January 3, 2016. 
  33. ^ Myatt, D. Martin. "03 Kylo Ren from Hasbro's The Black Series". Rebelscum.com. Retrieved January 3, 2016. 
  34. ^ "75104-1: Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle". Brickset.com. 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Minifigs: sw663: Kylo Ren (75104)". Brickset.com. 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  36. ^ "75139-1: Battle on Takodana". Brickset.com. 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
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  40. ^ "LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises to Debut on Disney XD February 15". Oh My Disney. February 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016. 
  41. ^ Watercutter, Angela (February 12, 2016). "This New Animated Lego Star Wars Short Looks Legit". Wired. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  42. ^ Whitbrook, James (February 12, 2016). "Poe Dameron Stages a Daring Rescue in the First The Force Awakens Lego Short". io9. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  43. ^ McGee, Ryan (January 17, 2016). "Adam Driver on 'SNL': 3 Sketches You Have to See". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 17, 2016. 
  44. ^ Trendacosta, Katharine (February 22, 2017). "Everything That Aftermath: Empire's End Reveals About the New Star Wars Universe". Gizmodo. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  45. ^ "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (Or How I Might Just Like Kylo Ren)". thebiglead.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  46. ^ "Force Awakens Thrilling If Not Familiar Adventure". thereeldeal.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  47. ^ "What Happened To Kylo Ren After The Force Awakens? The Villian Could Make A Return". Bustle.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  48. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review – 'a spectacular homecoming'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  49. ^ Schwartz, Terri. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review". IGN. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  50. ^ McCarthy, Todd (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  51. ^ Travers, Peter (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  52. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (November 11, 2015). "Let’s Discuss the Ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Vulture.com. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  53. ^ Cohen, David S. (June 23, 2016). "The Force Awakens Rings Up Eight Saturn Awards". Variety. Retrieved June 23, 2016. 

External links[edit]