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,[n 1] 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.
|Star Wars character|
Kylo Ren's costume displayed on a mannequin
|First appearance||The Force Awakens (2015)|
|Portrayed by||Adam Driver|
|Voiced by||Adam Driver (Disney Infinity 3.0, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars Rebels)|
Matthew Wood (Star Wars Battlefront II)
Roger C. Smith (Star Wars Battlefront II)
|Full name||Ben Solo|
Ren is the master of the Knights of Ren, as well as a commander and later the Supreme Leader of the First Order, an organization spawned from the former Galactic Empire. He also appears in the Force Awakens sequel Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), the upcoming third film Star Wars: Episode IX (2019), and related media and merchandising.
Concept and creationEdit
Abrams requested that Ren's mask be designed to be memorable to a child. As late as March 2014, the film's main antagonist was only known to the production team as "Jedi Killer", and had gone through numerous unapproved design attempts. The same month, Glyn Dillon's design for the character's costume was finally approved. According to Abrams, "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." According to The Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan,
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.
Driver's casting in the film in an unnamed role was first announced on April 29, 2014. Kylo Ren was first seen, but still not named, in the 88-second The Force Awakens teaser trailer released by Lucasfilm on November 28, wielding a jagged red lightsaber with a crossguard. The name Kylo Ren was revealed by Entertainment Weekly in a Lucasfilm-designed Topps-style trading card mockup in December 2014. A May 2015 Vanity Fair photo shoot by Annie Leibovitz confirmed that Driver would be portraying Kylo.
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. 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."
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." 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." 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". Abrams noted, "The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character." The Telegraph also explains that Ren's wild and erratic temper and "angsty" instability make him dangerous. Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast describes Ren's use of the Force as "formidable", citing his ability to stop a blaster shot mid-air, immobilize victims and probe their minds against their will.
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". 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." Driver said in December 2015 that, despite the visual similarities to Darth Vader, Ren is "unlike any villain the franchise has seen". 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.
The Force Awakens (2015)Edit
Kylo Ren first appears in The Force Awakens as a commander in the First Order, a tyrannical regime that has risen from the remains of the Galactic Empire. After arriving at Jakku to retrieve a map containing the coordinates where Luke Skywalker is to be found, Ren kills an old priest 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, originally named Ben, and was once one of Luke's Jedi pupils. He was corrupted 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 it from his grandfather Darth Vader, whose burnt helmet is in Ren's possession. Arriving at Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana, Ren captures Rey, who he senses has seen the map. While interrogating her, he realizes that she is strong with the Force, though unaware of it. Rey finds herself able to resist his powers and experience Ren's emotions, and confronts him over his fear that he will never be as powerful as his grandfather. She later uses the "Jedi mind trick" to compel her stormtrooper guard to let her escape. Han arrives at the First Order's superweapon, 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 tells Han he feels conflicted, and asks his father for help, which Han promises to give; Ren then ignites his lightsaber, impaling and killing Han. An enraged Chewbacca fires at Ren, wounding him. As Finn and Rey flee the damaged base, 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, striking him on the face with the lightsaber. 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.
The Last Jedi (2017)Edit
Ren's inner conflict continues into The Last Jedi, specifically through his conversations with Rey, with whom he connects through the Force. Rey learns from Luke why Ben Solo turned to the dark side: Luke had seen a vision of the destruction Ben would cause and was briefly tempted to kill him; when Ben awoke to see Luke about to strike him down, he turned on his uncle and destroyed the Jedi Temple. Rey believes that there is still good in Ren, and resolves to bring him back to the light side.
Ren captures her and brings her before Snoke, who orders Ren to kill her. However, Ren, realizing that Snoke does indeed plan to kill him once he has outlived his usefulness, uses the Force to ignite Luke's lightsaber at Snoke's side and cut him in half, killing him. After that, Ren reveals to Rey his new goal to create a new order in the galaxy, separate from the legacies created by Snoke and Luke, and beseeches Rey to join him. He goads her into admitting to herself that her parents abandoned her, and then tells her that he is the only person in the galaxy who truly cares about her. Though tempted to join him, Rey ultimately refuses, realizing that Ren will not turn back to the light side.
After Rey escapes, Ren frames her for Snoke's assassination, declares himself Supreme Leader of the First Order, and orders his forces to attack the Resistance base on Crait. Ren engages Luke in battle and appears to blow him up and cut him in half, but Luke remains standing; he is revealed to be simply a vision projected from the real Luke on Ahch-To, serving as a distraction which allows the Resistance to escape from the First Order. When Luke vanishes, the First Order storms the base, but the Resistance has already evacuated; Ren shares a final look with Rey through the Force before Rey closes the door to the Millennium Falcon and escapes with the Resistance.
Episode IX (2019)Edit
Related works and promotional materialEdit
Kylo is a playable character in the 2015 The Force Awakens add-on to the Disney Infinity 3.0 video game, with an Infinity character figurine available separately. He is also a character in the strategy video game Star Wars: Force Arena.
Hasbro has released a 3 3⁄4-inch (9.5 cm) Kylo Ren action figure, and a 6-inch (15 cm) figure in their Black Series line. He is also featured in the Lego Star Wars playsets Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle (2015) and Battle on Takodana (2016), as well as a Lego Buildable Figure. The Lego version of Kylo also appears in the 2016 short form animated series Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises, and as a playable character in Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
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.
Kylo appears in Star Wars Battlefront II, voiced by Matthew Wood and Roger Craig Smith, masked and unmasked respectively. In the game, Kylo interrogates Del Meeko about Lor San Tekka's location (who possess the map to Luke Skywalker) using his Force abilities. When Del finally relents and reveals the map and Lor San Tekka's location, Kylo leaves him for Hask, Del's former comrade in Inferno Squad.
In the 2017 Chuck Wendig novel Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End, Ben Solo[n 2] is stated as having been born on the planet Chandrila on the same day as a peace treaty is signed between the remnants of the Empire and the New Galactic Republic (about a year after Return of the Jedi, or 29 years before The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren is also mentioned in the 2017 novel Star Wars: Phasma, which takes place before The Force Awakens.
Driver won a 2016 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal. In January 2018, Kylo was voted seventh greatest movie villain of all time by the readers of Empire.
Many reviewers 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. 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." 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."  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."
Comparing the character to the one-note Vader of the 1977 film, Melissa 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." 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." 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." 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." Kyle Buchanan of Vulture.com was underwhelmed by the reveal of Driver under the mask. 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.
Some viewers noted that 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. Additionally, critics have noted a resemblance between Ren's character design and that of Revan, the protagonist of Knights of the Old Republic.
- Thomas, Leah Marilla (December 18, 2015). "Kylo Ren's Real Name Is Ben In 'The Force Awakens,' Which Is Both Sweet & Heartbreaking". Bustle. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
- Scoville, Max (December 20, 2017). "Star Wars: Hey, What's Up With The Knights of Ren?". IGN. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- "How Kylo Ren's Terrifying Mask Was Designed to Be Unforgettable to Kids". Time. December 11, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
- Szostak, Phil (2015). The Art of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. Abrams Books. pp. 150, 170. ISBN 978-1-4197-1780-2.
- Breznican, Anthony (August 12, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren's shroud is pulled back at last, but..." Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced". StarWars.com. April 29, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- "Watch the Incredible Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer". Rolling Stone. November 28, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Lewis, Andy (December 1, 2014). "Trailer Report: Star Wars Teaser Beats Age of Ultron In Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
- Kain, Erik (November 29, 2014). "5 Reasons The New Star Wars Trailer Was The Perfect First Look At The Force Awakens". Forbes. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Ahmed, Tufayel (November 28, 2014). "Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer: 5 things we've learned from the EPIC Episode VII trailer". Daily Mirror. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Gilman, Greg (November 29, 2014). "Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Trailer Unmasks a Stormtrooper, Teases Villain". TheWrap. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Breznican, Anthony (December 11, 2014). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens character names revealed (in coolest way possible)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Digital Trading Cards". StarWars.com. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- Robinson, Joanna (May 4, 2015). "Adam Driver's and Lupita Nyong'o's Characters Revealed in Exclusive Star Wars: The Force Awakens Photos". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- Hiatt, Brian (December 2, 2015). "Star Wars Strikes Back: Behind the Scenes of the Biggest Movie of the Year". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Dyer, James (August 25, 2015). "JJ Abrams Spills Details On Kylo Ren". Empire. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
- Collin, Robbie (December 18, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review: 'the magic is back'". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- "14 things Star Wars fans will love about The Force Awakens". The Telegraph. December 17, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Leon, Melissa (December 27, 2015). "Emo Kylo Ren: Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Polarizing Villain". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- Hawkes, Rebecca (December 17, 2015). "Adam Driver: why Kylo Ren is nothing like Vader". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Dennis, Catrina (May 6, 2016). "Legacy of My Mother: 5 Women Who Changed the Star Wars Galaxy". StarWars.com. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
- Kroll, Justin (July 27, 2018). "Star Wars: Episode IX Announces Cast; Carrie Fisher to Be Featured". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- Robertson, Andy (October 12, 2015). "Disney Infinity: The Force Awakens Dated, Adds Kylo Ren And Poe Dameron". Forbes. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Valdes, Giancarlo (December 9, 2015). "Disney Infinity's Star Wars: The Force Awakens lets John Boyega play with himself". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set for Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Now Available". StarWars.com. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Truitt, Brian (December 16, 2015). "Infinity adds to Force Awakens experience". USA Today. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Compendio, Chris (November 9, 2017). "Kylo Ren and Rey Finally Join Mobile Game Star Wars: Force Arena". Screen Rant. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
- 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.
- Myatt, D. Martin. "03 Kylo Ren from Hasbro's The Black Series". Rebelscum.com. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "75104-1: Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle". Brickset.com. 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- "Minifigs: sw663: Kylo Ren (75104)". Brickset.com. 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "75139-1: Battle on Takodana". Brickset.com. 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "Minifigs: sw717: Kylo Ren (75139)". Brickset.com. 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "75117-1: Kylo Ren". Brickset.com. 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Li, Shirley (February 12, 2016). "The Force Awakens characters to appear in new LEGO Star Wars series". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- "LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises to Debut on Disney XD February 15". Oh My Disney. February 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- Watercutter, Angela (February 12, 2016). "This New Animated Lego Star Wars Short Looks Legit". Wired. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- Whitbrook, James (February 12, 2016). "Poe Dameron Stages a Daring Rescue in the First The Force Awakens Lego Short". io9. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- "Kylo Ren". IGN. June 27, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
- McGee, Ryan (January 17, 2016). "Adam Driver on 'SNL': 3 Sketches You Have to See". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- Mroz, Guillaume [@guillaume_mroz] (November 15, 2017). "Sorry, incomplete information: Matthew Woods : Masked Kylo Ren Roger Craig Smith: Unmasked Kylo Ren" (Tweet). Retrieved November 22, 2017 – via Twitter.
- Foster, Alan Dean (2015). "Chapter I". The Force Awakens (e-book). ISBN 9781101965504.
- Trendacosta, Katharine (February 22, 2017). "Everything That Aftermath: Empire's End Reveals About the New Star Wars Universe". Gizmodo. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
- McDonagh, Tim (2016). Star Wars: Galactic Maps. Disney–Lucasfilm Press. pp. 13, 44. ISBN 978-1368003063.
- Cohen, David S. (June 23, 2016). "The Force Awakens Rings Up Eight Saturn Awards". Variety. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- Agar, Chris (January 22, 2018). "Kylo Ren Voted Seventh-Greatest Movie Villain". Screen Rant. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (Or How I Might Just Like Kylo Ren)". thebiglead.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- "Force Awakens Thrilling If Not Familiar Adventure". thereeldeal.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- "What Happened To Kylo Ren After The Force Awakens? The Villian Could Make A Return". Bustle.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Bradshaw, Peter (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review – 'a spectacular homecoming'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Schwartz, Terri. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review". IGN. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- McCarthy, Todd (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Travers, Peter (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Buchanan, Kyle (November 11, 2015). "Let's Discuss the Ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Vulture.com. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
- McMillan, Graeme (December 23, 2015). "How the Abandoned Star Wars Expanded Universe Inspired Force Awakens". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Bouie, Jamelle (December 16, 2015). "How The Force Awakens Remixes the Star Wars Expanded Universe". Slate. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Kendrick, Ben (December 18, 2015). "Star Wars 7: Kylo Ren Backstory Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Saavedra, John (December 17, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Easter Eggs and Reference Guide (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and the Knights of Ren)". Den of Geek. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
- Dickens, Donna (August 17, 2015). "Kylo Ren Looks An Awful Lot Like This Other Star Wars Character". HitFix. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
- Chung, Frank (August 25, 2015). "Who is the new Star Wars villain?". News.com.au. Retrieved January 6, 2016.