There are dozens of different weapons that harness light as a means of inflicting damage throughout Star Wars. Probably the most iconic of these is the lightsaber -- an elegant weapon, hearkening back to the katanas wielded by Japanese Samurai. Of course, among lightsabers are various styles, each built for the individual needs and fighting methods of its owner. The colors of light emitted by the saber beams are also variable, telling even more about the person holding it than meets the eye. One of our favorite lightsaber styles is the Double-bladed Spinning Lightsaber used by the Inquisitors in Star Wars Rebels -- most excellent for defense, offense, and you can use it to fly! However, as divisive as it has been since its first appearance in the trailer for Force Awakens, there is just something special about Kylo Ren’s Cross-guard lightsaber.
Love it or hate it, you have to admit, it is arresting -- with its unique, ragged look, loud spitting sounds, and Medieval design. The reaction to Kylo’s saber has been polarized -- some fans think it is a brilliant reflection of the character, while others have had far colder responses. Regardless of how one may feel about it, not much has been discussed about this lightsaber, and details are still mostly a mystery. Hopefully, we will get more answers in upcoming Star Wars materials. For now, here are a few things we at CBR know about Kylo Ren’s lightsaber that you might not! Plus -- a few theories we’ve heard through the Force-field.
15 RUMOR: FAMILY HEIRLOOM
One of the more common theories floating around about Kylo’s cross-guard lightsaber is that it was built from Darth Vader’s. Considering he revered his grandfather, it would make sense Kylo would seek out such a personal item of his. It is also possible Kylo Ren built his own custom saber using pieces of the Kyber crystal from Darth Vader’s. This would explain why Kylo’s saber crystal is cracked -- if it was sourced from Vader’s hilt, it would have been severely damaged after his fatal fall in Return of the Jedi.
Many fans have even gone on to speculate that the crystal worn around Luke’s neck in Episodes 7 and 8 is in fact another piece of the same shattered Kyber crystal. This could be another one of the reasons Kylo was so interested in encountering and defeating Luke -- to complete the crystals within his saber and stabilize it in the process.
14 FACT: BLAST FROM THE PAST
Kylo Ren’s signature lightsaber wasn’t something he simply conjured up from the depths of his twisted imagination. The “cross-guard” style we see him carry is based upon saber designs dating back thousands of years to a time known as “The Scourge of Malachor.” Kylo visited the planet and came back with ancient lightsaber designs, including the crossguard style. This kind of lightsaber requires the use of “quillions” to act as ventilation shafts for excess energy -- like the exhaust on your car.
The quillions also perform double duty by acting as proper cross-guards to protect the fighter’s wrists while dueling. These shafts are one of the major details to give Kylo’s saber such a unique look. Considering the countless times we’ve seen Star Wars characters lose their hand(s) while fighting with lightsabers, we’re surprised we haven’t seen this design used more often!
13 RUMOR: JEDI SABER GONE BAD
Another theory concerning the origin of Kylo Ren’s saber is that it is simply a modified version of the one he was given -- or built, we still don't have details on this -- under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker. Like the Sith, he could very well have “bled” the Kyber crystal within -- filling it with his rage, anger, and other aspects of the Dark Side -- until it turned red.
After bleeding the crystal, Kylo could have easily made the modifications to the hilt and added the quillions. It is also possible that he had two Jedi lightsabers as a Padawan, and secretly modified one into the red cross-guard design -- while still wielding the other and keeping his project a secret from Luke. Unfortunately, Luke won't be able to give us any further information on this -- unless we get to see him as a Force-spirit!
12 FACT: THE SCOURGE OF MALACHOR
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, one of the most horrific incidents in known Star Wars lore took place -- The Great Scourge of the planet Malachor: an incident so ancient and foreboding that Jedi were forbidden to even visit the planet. Thousands of years before the Galactic Civil War, the Sith built a temple on the rocky planet Malachor. Housed within the pyramid-like temple was a massive super-weapon powered by a giant Kyber crystal -- sort of like an ancient, natural Death Star.
In an attempt to prevent the Sith from using this terrifying weapon, the Jedi attacked the temple. During the skirmish, the weapon was somehow set-off, resulting in the absolute destruction of all life on the planet -- leaving behind the petrified remains of Jedi and Sith alike -- and tales that would haunt Jedi and Sith for hundreds of generations.
11 RUMOR: FOUND BY EZRA
In Star Wars Rebels, “Twilight of the Apprentice,” a Jedi Padawan named Ezra Bridger and a few companions were sent by Master Yoda to Malachor. During their adventures on that ruined planet, Ezra discovered cross-guard lightsabers scattered among the eerie petrified ruins of the scourged planet. He turned one on and it fired right up, although it didn't stay activated long.
Ezra left the lightsaber behind when he flew away from Malachor at the end of this adventure -- but it is highly possible that Kylo Ren could have scavenged the very same saber among the ruins on his visit and bent it to his will. Something interesting about Ezra is he was also a Padawan struggling between the Light and Dark side of the Force -- but unlike Kylo Ren, wound up staying with the Light Side... at leas from what we know.
10 FACT: DAMAGED GOODS
One of the most visually arresting aspects of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is its fiercely unstable beam. Spitting, crackling, and hissing like a fire -- this is something else we’ve not seen in other lightsabers before. Many Star Wars fans have been wanting the answer to this question ever since we first saw Kylo’s saber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The intrigue of this feisty saber beam is sourced from the Kyber crystal used inside of it.
All lightsabers require the use of at least one Kyber crystal to function. Many Jedi and Sith spend countless hours meditating upon the crystals they will use in the lightsabers they construct while they complete their training. How Kylo found this Kyber crystal -- and if it was cracked when he discovered it, or cracked while bending it to his will -- are details that have yet to be filled in.
9 RUMOR: UNQUALIFIED HANDS
Since Kylo Ren never completed his Jedi training -- and it has been made eminently clear that he is not a Sith -- it could be argued that he was never taught how to properly construct a lightsaber. This is hinted at in canon materials, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Visual Dictionary (a gorgeous book full of details that should be owned by any Star Wars fan!).
In this reference and others, it states that it appears Kylo’s saber was built by “unqualified hands.” He may very well have taught himself how to build his own lightsaber, using the old designs he found on Malachor -- and scavenging the materials and Kyber crystal needed to see it through to fruition. And he had the gall to berate Rey by calling her a “scavenger!”
8 FACT: FIGHTING STYLE FORM FIVE
Like in sword fighting and martial arts, there are different “traditional forms” of lightsaber combat. Seven different forms have been recognized and documented as Star Wars canon material -- Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu, Ataru, Shien/Djem So, Niman, and Juyo/Vaapad. Each form had its own styles of defense and offense, varying in intensity and skill-set required. Darth Vader was recognized as a Form V (Shien/Djem So) style of lightsaber fighter -- an aggressive one that is ideal for deflecting blaster shots and performing solid counterattacks.
Studying Kylo’s lightsaber, in addition to the way he uses it, gives us pretty strong hints that he was fighting in the same form as his idealized grandfather. Although, it appears, without as much of the same finesse, likely due to incomplete training. At this point in Star Wars history, the art of fighting with lightsabers was dying out, making Masters scarce.
7 RUMOR: A PIECE OF HISTORY
Due to the horrific events that occurred during The Scourge of Malachor, the planet was shunned by the Jedi and revered by the Sith and other Dark Lords. So it would make sense that Kylo Ren would complete a pilgrimage there at one point in his life -- like when Darth Sidious brought Darth Maul there to “inhale the ashes of his predecessors.” Kylo Ren was known to have visited this planet, because it is where he procured the schematics for his cross-guard style lightsaber.
Considering all this, it is highly possible he infiltrated the temple and gained access to the massive Kyber crystal within. This could explain why his crystal is cracked and infused with such a highly charged, volatile energy as well -- if it did indeed come from that crystal, it would be imbued with the energy of at least a thousand deaths.
6 FACT: MOOD BEAM
Unlike many of the other Dark Lords we have seen in Star Wars, Kylo Ren is incredibly unstable with his self-identity. Seemingly desperate to fulfill his grandfather Vader’s legacy, yet torn between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, Kylo spews rage and frustration like the very fiery light spitting out of his saber. It seems as though it's about ready to burst apart from the force of its very essence, just like its owner.
Cracked and seemingly flawed like the Kyber crystal that powers it, it should come as no major surprise that Kylo’s lightsaber is a representation of his own behaviors and moods. Like the lore of magic wands -- and pets -- it seems that lightsabers take on the tendencies of their owners.
5 RUMOR: LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Weapons and tools are generally best left in their prime state at all times. Why anyone would want to pick a damaged lightsaber as their weapon of choice is rather confusing. Wielding the unpredictable nature of such a weapon seems to be incredibly dangerous. That, of course, has a lot of Star Wars fans wondering why Kylo Ren would want to wield a saber powered by a cracked Kyber crystal.
Ragged and wild -- like having a dragon for a pet -- maybe Kylo prefers the unstable nature of his weapon to one with an intact crystal at its core. The sudden bursts and sparks it spits out can certainly be harnessed to one’s advantage, if you have the constitution for it. The fractured man formerly known as Ben Solo seems the perfect candidate for such a weapon.
4 FACT: NEEDED AN OVERHAUL
Many fans were confused by the apparent changes in Kylo’s saber between Episodes 7 and 8. When we first see it in The Force Awakens, the grip is unfinished metal -- similar to when we first see Anakin building C3P0 in Episode 1. Like the overtly philosophical droid, both creations evolved over time. Quick eyes have noted that the changes in Kylo’s lightsaber were as much out of necessity as a desired form.
Towards the end of their initial encounter and lightsaber battle, Rey can be seen striking Kylo’s saber out of his hand -- causing damage to it and nearly slicing it in half. Like overhauling a car, rebuilding your lightsaber would be an ideal time to give it that matte black paint job you’ve been thinking about. You know, to match your wardrobe of all black villain clothing.
3 RUMOR: BLEEDING CRYSTALS
With the recent purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney, there have been some pretty major changes to canon Star Wars materials. Among the most notable are the differences between the lore of lightsabers and Kyber crystals. Canon material presents Kyber crystals as rare, naturally occurring elements that must be sought out. Once the querent finds and bond with their crystal (s), they then meditate upon them.
When they are properly prepared, the crystals are then incorporated into the Jedi’s lightsaber -- usually giving off a blue or green hue, but sometimes other colors as well. The striking red color of the Dark Side saber wielders comes from the insidious intentions involved with their methodology -- a Dark Side saber must be created from the taken saber of a fallen opponent. Then they force their will upon the crystal -- a process known as “bleeding” -- which gives it that devilish red hue.
2 FACT: THE JEDI KILLER
Kylo Ren murdered so many people in the Star Wars universe that it has earned him a nickname -- "The Jedi Killer." Not only has Kylo turned his lightsaber on his own father, Han Solo, and his former Dark Master Snoke -- he even wielded it against a member of the Church of the Force. Lor San Tekka was a valuable wealth of information and lore to the Resistance and New Republic.
When Luke Skywalker went into self-exile after the “small” disagreement he had with Kylo Ren, it was Lor San who found a pertinent missing piece of the map needed to find Luke’s whereabouts. Seeking out the isolated first Jedi Temples on Ahch-To where Luke had gone into seclusion, this information helped a struggling Resistance find their spark of hope. Kylo murdered Lor San when he was interrogating him for that very information and Lor boldly refused to reveal any.
1 RUMOR: LEARNED IT FROM A HOLOCRON
Holocrons are to Star Wars what Horcruxes are to Harry Potter -- inanimate objects that have been imbued with information and sentience by their maker. Unlike Harry Potter, where Horcruxes are strictly associated with practices of the Dark Arts, Holocrons can be created by both Light and Dark side Force-sensitives. In order to access the information they hold, one must think like the builder -- so if it is a Sith Holocron, one must be a Sith, or think like one.
Ezra Bridger found a Dark Side Holocron in the Sith temple on the Planet Malachor in the same Star Wars Rebels episode he found an ancient cross-guard lightsaber. It is highly possible that Kylo Ren also stumbled upon or sought out a Holocron on Malachor -- and from that found the designs for his custom lightsaber.