Which came first: The Knights of Ren or Kylo Ren? Despite knowing what we know about Kylo Ren, he is one of the more mysterious characters in the newest Star Wars trilogy. Sure, we don’t know Rey’s parentage or who the heck Supreme Leader Snoke is, but Rey’s pretty much a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get that never left Jakku until recently. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, has been zipping around the galaxy far, far away with the First Order, hunting down relics of the past. He’s been trained as a Jedi by the son of the last Sith Lord before he was seduced to the dark side by way of a decomposing Emperor-wannabe.
There is a lot that we know about Kylo Ren, formerly known as Ben Solo. He’s the son of a smuggler and a career politician. His grandfather was an infamous Sith Lord that the galaxy has yet to forget. He is the nephew and failed student of the only Jedi the galaxy has seen since the Clone Wars. He is a nod to the past while simultaneously being a character of his own. So, in honor of The Last Jedi, and in no particular order, here are a few things you never knew about Kylo Ren.
15 HIS LIGHTSABER
Ever wonder why Kylo Ren’s lightsaber isn’t a smooth, sharp-looking blade like previous lightsaber-wielders? It has to do with the kyber crystal the saber’s hilt houses. It’s cracked. This is why the blade of Kylo’s lightsaber looks jagged and crude. It fits his character, from a certain point of view. He, himself, is broken, and you get this impression through his struggle against the light side of the Force. He even feels conflicted when he faces Han at the climax of The Force Awakens.
The kyber crystal being cracked is also the reason for the unique design of his lightsaber’s hilt. The crystal can barely contain the power it holds, requiring vents to divert the excess heat they put off. While the prop department -- or whoever was in charge of designing Kylo Ren’s lightsaber -- wanted to make it look cool, they also gave a logical reason for its design.
14 NOT A SITH
It is easy for the audience to call Kylo Ren a Sith Lord since he is garbed in black robes and uses the Force for, what we perceive, are evil intentions. Oh, and the red lightsaber and wanting to be like Darth Vader. There’s that too. However, J.J. Abrams has stated that he is not actually a Sith at all. Abrams also confirmed that Darth Vader was the last Lord of the Sith.
That almost makes sense because one can say since Kylo is still in training and you can’t be a Sith until you have completed your training. But what about Supreme Leader Snoke? He’s supposed to be Kylo Ren’s master, so wouldn’t he be a Sith Lord? This only enhances the mystery around Snoke’s character.
13 JEDI KILLER
Following in Darth Vader’s footsteps, his grandfather, Kylo Ren continued the extermination of the Jedi. This was easier for Kylo than Vader, of course, because the only Jedi in training resided at Luke’s Jedi temple. The number of students Luke had at the time was never expressed and will probably remain vague in order to create new Jedi characters for the future, but it couldn’t have been easy for Kylo to complete the task.
Slaughtering the Force-sensitive trainees earned him the nickname “Jedi Killer” amongst members of the First Order. It was a name whispered by those that knew what Ren had done to prevent the resurrection of the Jedi Order. “Jedi Killer” was also the name used throughout the film’s pre-production before an actual name was conceived for the character.
12 LEX LUTHOR
Sometimes when an actor takes on a certain role, it’s at the cost of another opportunity. Adam Driver, for example, had a choice to make when J.J. Abrams offered him the role of Kylo Ren. He was up for the part of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but decided to take the job of Kylo Ren. It was an opportunity of a lifetime, after all.
It was the Star Wars trilogy that would resurrect the sci-fi franchise and reinvigorate fans across the globe. Instead, Dawn of Justice would go on to cast Jesse Eisenberg as their Lex Luthor. It’s a shame that Driver was unable to take on both movies. That would have really solidified him as a genre actor in two major franchises with large fanbases.
11 KNIGHTS OF REN
Not a lot is known about the Knights of Ren other than they are a small band of soldiers, lead by Kylo Ren, that exist outside of the First Order’s military structure to do Supreme Leader Snoke’s bidding. We do know that they all wear a similar looking helmet to Kylo’s as seen in the brief glimpse we get of them in Rey’s vision when she takes hold of Anakin’s old lightsaber.
What we don’t know is their capabilities, but we can probably surmise that Kylo is the only Force-sensitive one out of the bunch since he is the only one wielding a lightsaber when we see them in Rey’s vision. The rest are holding blasters or staves. Not exactly the weapon of choice by one that wields the force. It is safe to assume, with being named Kylo “Ren”, the Knights of Ren take their name from their commander.
10 LINEAGE UNKNOWN
From his fanatical interest in Darth Vader, we see throughout The Force Awakens, one would think Kylo grew up curious about his grandfather until he finally snapped one day and decided to follow in the Dark Lord’s footsteps. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Han, Leia and Luke kept Ben’s lineage from him throughout his childhood because they weren’t sure how he would react to that kind of news.
Leia did plan on telling him the truth one day when he was old enough to understand -- well, she planned to have Luke tell him. Unfortunately, he had to find out about his evil grandfather from Leia’s political opponents through a smear campaign. She was worried about how he would react to learning the truth in such a public manner. We all know how that turned out in the end.
9 NO AUDITION
When J.J. Abrams was searching for an actor to portray the next villain in this tale about a galaxy far, far away, he already had someone in mind. He called Adam Driver to have a meet and greet so he could get a good look at the actor and size him up to see if he was right for the role. There was no formal audition where an actor reads lines to show off his acting chops.
Adam Driver already had a successful run as Adam Sackler on the HBO series Girls, so it wasn’t difficult for a director to know if he was right for the role. Just as J.J. Abrams had to decide if Driver was right for the role, Driver had to decide if he wanted the role. This required him to sacrifice other roles that could have propelled his career forward.
8 ABANDONMENT ISSUES
There was a line or two in The Force Awakens that hinted at Kylo Ren’s issues with feeling abandoned by his parents, Han Solo and Leia Organa. For example, his line when he’s interrogating Rey “And Han Solo... You feel like he's the father you never had. He would have disappointed you.” The movie never gets too specific. When Kylo was a child his mother was a respected senator in the New Republic and his father was a legitimate owner of a shipping company who did some racing on the side.
Both career paths required a lot of traveling. Between his busy parents and being shipped off to his uncle Luke to receive Jedi training, Ben felt like no one wanted him. This is what made Snoke so appealing to him. Snoke preyed on these abandonment issues, making himself the father figure Kylo so desperately desired.
7 HUNDREDS OF DESIGNS
The final look of Kylo Ren wasn’t the result of just a few concept designs. There were literally hundreds of designs brought to J.J. Abrams before he greenlit the one we see on screen. There were designs that portray Kylo as a being that ate matter from stars, much like Darth Nihilus from the Knights of the Old Republic video game series.
The designer of Kylo Ren’s final look said that designing Kylo Ren was like, “trying to land a helicopter on a penny. We couldn’t be too Vader-ish, but we couldn’t reference something else too heavily, either.” Another rejected design actually influenced the look of the Guavian security soldiers that attack Han when BB-8 is spotted on board his ship. Then there were more cybernetic looking Kylo Rens. J.J. wanted his look to be perfect.
6 HOME PLANET
Fun fact: Ben Solo was born five years after the Battle of Yavin IV, and one year after the Battle of Endor, on the planet Chandrila. This is the planet that became the capital of the New Republic after the fall of the Empire. Interesting enough, the Republic actually rotated which world was the capital world based on elections.
Chandrila was featured in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath books that fill in the gap between the end of Return of the Jedi and start of The Force Awakens. Ben was born on the same day the Imperial remnants and the New Republic signed the “Galactic Concordance”, which officially ended the Galactic Civil War. Chandrila was actually one of the planets scheduled to be destroyed by the second Death Star, had it survived the Battle of Endor.
5 WHAT’S IN A NAME
We all know Kylo Ren was born Ben Solo, a nod to Luke’s one-time Jedi teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi. But when he fell to the dark side and changed his name, why did he choose "Kylo Ren"? At first glance it’s such an arbitrary name with no meaning and no foundation in the dark side of the Force. Usually, the Sith take on the title of “Darth”. Since Kylo is not a Sith, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t take on the title of Darth.
So where did he get the name from? It is a clever combination of his two family names. SKYWALKER and SOLO. Having such a fascination for his grandfather, of course, he’s going to want to make some kind of reference to the Skywalker name. Choosing to also have a reference to his birth name is an interesting decision, though.
4 BEN WHO?
When Kylo Ren gave into the seduction of the dark side of the Force and became a full-fledged member of the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke made it law that Kylo’s true name is to never be spoken. A law that is probably meant more for Kylo -- maybe Armitage Hux -- than anyone else. This is to help Kylo completely forget where he comes from and to avoid the temptations from the light side of the Force.
It’s a brainwashing tactic, just another similarity to Darth Vader where he was never called Anakin by the Emperor or Imperial troops. Their past lives are referred to as if those people are dead, which is a little more difficult with Kylo since he hasn’t had any limbs hacked off yet, leaving him to be more machine than human.
3 CHAIN OF COMMAND
Much like Darth Vader during the times of the Empire, Kylo Ren is outside of the formal military command. Not just him, but his Knights of Ren too. They answer directly to Supreme Leader Snoke even though they control military units as they see fit. This is one of the causes for the tension between Ren and General Hux throughout The Force Awakens. That, and they’re both competing for Snoke’s undying love because Snoke is apparently very good at fooling people into thinking he cares about them.
Being outside of the military’s formal chain of command gives Ren a lot of room to do as he wishes, like hunting down old Darth Vader artifacts. It also makes him vulnerable to leaving the First Order because he was never formally indoctrinated like the rest of the stormtroopers. Finn was properly brainwashed from birth and look what happened to him.
2 HATED THE MASK
The design of Kylo Ren’s mask was created with the intention of making it memorable with children. That’s a smart marketing ploy on Abrams’ part. One person that did not like the helmet was Kylo Ren’s actor himself, Adam Driver. Driver stated that the mask made it difficult to see what was in front of him and even who was in front of him.
It’s not uncommon for actors to be frustrated with costume pieces. Ron Perlman, for instance, was not a fan of his Hellboy head-piece because it made it difficult for him to hear. Even previous Batman actors disliked the cowl because they couldn’t turn their heads or it gave them headaches. Comfort is one thing actors sacrifice when taking on specific roles. Luckily the end product typically looks amazing on screen, and we thank them for their sacrifice.
1 NOT A VILLAIN
Not to split hairs, but it is usually commonly agreed that slaughtering villages of unarmed civilians and destroying entire planets is the work of a bad person. This was established in the original trilogy. Adam Driver, on the other hand, doesn’t see Kylo Ren as a villain. This is a stance he says he took in order to get into the head of his character. That’s fair because Ren probably doesn’t see himself as a villain either.
Driver says he sees Ren as a religious zealot, which justifies the actions he makes. If you’ve ever played a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons and came across a lawful good paladin, then you know they are one of the most dangerous archetypes one can create because they will go to any lengths to complete their objectives. Now imagine a lawful evil character with the same conviction as Kylo Ren.
Which of these facts is most shocking to you? Let us know in the comments!