- "Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That's the only way to become what you were meant to be."
- ―Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren, a Force-sensitive human male, was a warrior of the dark side of the Force, Master of the Knights of Ren and Supreme Leader of the First Order. The son of General Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, his parents named him Ben Solo following his birth—an event that occurred on the day the Galactic Empire capitulated the Galactic Civil War to the New Republic—in the year 5 ABY on the Core World Chandrila. Hailing from a prestigious pedigree on his mother's side of the family, Solo was related by adoption to the royal family of Alderaan which, in turn, connected him to the galactic aristocracy. He was the nephew of Luke Skywalker, Organa's twin brother who stood as the last of the Jedi after the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY. His biological, maternal grandparents were Padmé Amidala, the former queen of Naboo who represented her homeworld in the Galactic Senate during the last years of the Old Republic; and Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight and the Chosen One of the Force.
Although his grandfather's destiny was fulfilled, restoring balance to the Force through the Sith's destruction, Anakin Skywalker's legacy as the Sith Lord Darth Vader would cast a dark shadow over the life of his grandson. Organa feared for her son's future, believing he had the same potential for darkness and, therefore, sent him away to train with his uncle, Luke Skywalker as part of a new generation of Jedi Knights. Despite his promising future as a Jedi apprentice, the dark side's influence grew within him as a result of the machinations of Supreme Leader Snoke, a powerful Force wielder who saw in young Solo the potential for limitless power. Believing he had already lost his most prized student to the dark side, Skywalker instinctively moved to kill Solo in his sleep, hoping to prevent the dark future that could come to pass if he lived, but found that he could not bear to strike down his sister's son. Nevertheless, Solo felt betrayed and proceeded to destroy his uncle's hopes of fully restoring the Jedi Order by burning the training temple and slaughtering the students.
Though he had forsaken his heritage and adopted the persona of Kylo Ren—the so-called Jedi Killer, Master of the Knights of Ren, and apprentice to the Supreme Leader—the former Ben Solo struggled to resist the pull to the light side of the Force. As a warlord and champion of the First Order, he personally led the hunt for Skywalker, hoping to complete his grandfather's legacy by wiping out the last remnant of the Jedi Order. His efforts were thwarted by the interference of the Jakku scavenger Rey, who found the exiled Jedi Master shortly after the Battle of Starkiller Base in 34 ABY. Ren, whose conflict intensified following his act of patricide and subsequent defeat at the hands of Rey, was connected to the scavenger-turned-Jedi hopeful through an unprecedented Force-bond that allowed them to commune across millions of light-years. Rey sensed the light within the dark warrior and implored him to turn against Snoke, a deed he carried out only to seize his dead master's throne as the next leader of the First Order. Ren offered Rey a place at his side, beseeching her to forge a new order with him, but she rejected his offer in favor of continuing on her path to becoming a Jedi. Nevertheless, Ren fulfilled what his grandfather did not—killing his dark master to become the ruler of the galaxy—and vowed to end the war by annihilating everything that opposed his reign as Supreme Leader, including Rey, the Jedi Order, and his mother's resistance movement.
- "I know where you come from. Before you called yourself Kylo Ren."
- ―Lor San Tekka, to Kylo Ren
The voice of Kylo Ren was heard by the Jedi Ezra Bridger, who visited the world between worlds—a mystical plane that existed between time and space—in 1 BBY, several years before Ren's birth. He was born as Ben Solo in Hanna City, Chandrila on the day that the Galactic Concordance was signed between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire, formally ending the Galactic Civil War. This day was roughly one year after the Battle of Endor, in which his parents, Princess Leia Organa and General Han Solo, led the Alliance to Restore the Republic in a decisive victory over the Empire. Their victory resulted in the deaths of the Emperor, Darth Sidious, and Organa's biological father, the Sith Lord Darth Vader.
While he was still in his mother's womb, Organa could feel him through the Force. She likened him to a living band of light that sometimes dimmed and was sometimes thrust through with a vein of darkness. Following his birth, there were contradictory rumors that Ben's birth took three days. Another tale claimed that it was a fast and painless birth. There were also rumors that Ben was born with a shock of black hair and a full set of teeth. Though Han lacked the same Force bond that Organa had with her son, he comforted himself with the fact that he had a fatherly bond with Ben. As a toddler, Ben enjoyed playing with the gold dice that belonged to his father and would often follow him around.
The namesake of Ben's first name was that of the late Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who went by the name of Ben Kenobi while in exile on Tatooine after the fall of the Jedi Order at the end of the Clone Wars and who sacrificed his life while rescuing his mother from the Death Star battle station in 0 BBY. Ben's surname, that of his father, was originally coined by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin in 13 BBY on Corellia for Han when he enlisted for the Carida Academy to become a pilot, though some rumors persisted that his father was descendant of the Prince-Admiral Jonashe Solo from the ancient Corellian royalty, thus making Ben one of Jonashe's descendants if such rumors were true. As an infant, Ben had difficulty falling asleep. His father would hold him close in an effort to help Ben sleep. He also introduced his son to a children's holoshow cartoon called Moray and Faz. One night, two years after the fall of the Empire, Chancellor Mon Mothma contacted the Solo house in an attempt to speak with Organa. The household droid, T-2LC, informed Han and activated a holo-projection of the chancellor. In doing so, the droid awoke both father and son, much to the former's annoyance as it had been the first time Ben had slept in days, or so it seemed to Han. The disturbance caused Ben to wake up crying, to which his father responded sympathetically by holding his son close to his chest. After a few moments, Ben drifted back to sleep, his chin resting on his father's shoulder.
In his youth, Ben's parents had active lives in their respective professions. Han, a smuggler before joining the Rebellion, was unable to stay in one place for long. Ben, who aspired to become a pilot like his father since childhood, inherited amazing piloting skills from him. Organa, meanwhile, became a respected senator in the New Republic, the government that arose after the Battle of Endor and that had served the Empire a final defeat during the Battle of Jakku around the time of Ben's birth. Organa and Solo's natures clashed, and their busy lives left Ben with feelings of abandonment.
- "For many years, there was balance and then I saw Ben. My nephew with that mighty Skywalker blood. In my hubris, I thought I could train him; I could pass on my strengths. Han was Han about it, but… Leia trusted me with her son. I took him and a dozen students, and began a training temple."
- ―Luke Skywalker, to Rey
Ben proved to be Force-sensitive, taking after his mother, as well as his uncle and grandfather. Growing up, Ben was unaware of his true lineage—that he was the grandson of Darth Vader. Only his parents and Organa's twin brother, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, knew the truth of Anakin Skywalker's past. Organa decided to keep the truth from Ben but planned to tell him when he was older, though by the age of twenty-three he still did not know his grandfather's real identity. She nonetheless hoped that she could tell her son the truth, and that Skywalker could explain that, in the end, Vader was redeemed and that the light inside of Anakin Skywalker had returned. By the same age, Ben had begun training with Skywalker as one of the students in his uncle's new generation of Jedi, which the Jedi Master was training in the hopes of restoring the Jedi Order. Organa recognized similarities between Ben and Darth Vader and hoped that Skywalker's training could help her son.
In his late teens, Ben was eventually targeted by a powerful individual named Snoke—the Supreme Leader of the First Order that arose from the ashes of the Imperial remnants that had retreated into the Unknown Regions at the end of the Galactic Civil War—who recognized the inherent Force potential within Ben Solo, as Ben was a member of the powerful Skywalker family through his mother, and used Ben's feelings of abandonment as a tool to seduce him. It was through Ben that Snoke also targeted Skywalker in a calculated effort to break him by destroying the Jedi Order, which he indirectly convinced Skywalker to restore. Snoke saw Ben as a focal point between the light side and the dark side of the Force—an ideal embodiment of a Force warrior—and wanted to take him as an apprentice of his own.
Twenty-four years after the Battle of Endor, the Inner Rim planet of Birren, settled by explorers from Alderaan and Arkanis, suffered the death of its ruling monarch, Lord Mellowyn. His closest living relative was Senator Organa, who was not interested in its governorship—nor did she believe that Ben would be interested in succeeding her one day. The title passed to Lady Carise Sindian. Shortly thereafter, the truth about Organa's parentage was revealed by her political enemies, including Lady Sindian, in the Galactic Senate. Organa had yet to tell her son about Darth Vader, and she worried about how he would react after finding out about it in such a public way.
Fall to the dark side
- "I saw darkness. I'd sensed it building in him. I'd seen it in moments during his training. But then I looked inside, and it was beyond what I ever imagined. Snoke had already turned his heart. He would bring destruction, and pain, and death, and the end of everything I love because of what he would become. And for that briefest moment of pure instinct, I thought I could stop it. It passed like a fleeting shadow. And I was left with shame…and with consequence. And the last thing I saw were the eyes of a frightened boy whose master had failed him."
- ―Luke Skywalker, recounting the moment he almost killed his nephew
Skywalker eventually became aware of the darkness which threatened his nephew's soul. He felt a dark movement in the Force, which eventually brought him to his nephew's bedroom one evening. Standing over his sleeping student, Skywalker reached out and sensed an evil, corrupting influence within Ben. The immediacy and severity of the threat caused the Jedi Master to instinctively draw his lightsaber, intending even for a brief moment to kill his apprentice, though the desire to kill his nephew vanished in an instant, and Skywalker was immediately filled with shame. Ben awoke to see his uncle standing over him with his lightsaber raised, unaware of the brevity of Skywalker's instinct. He panicked, and drew his own saber at the sight of the attempt on his life. Believing Skywalker had failed him, Ben met the blade in a quick parry and, through an impressive display of the Force, pulled the entirety of the building onto his former master.
With Skywalker incapacitated, Ben proceeded to tear down everything that Skywalker had created, massacring the remaining students and leaving the Jedi Temple in ruins and leaving deep traumatic mental scars on Skywalker himself. The fledgling dark warrior then departed the planet with a select group of his fellow students, reorganizing them into a new order of dark side practitioners known as the Knights of Ren. Believing that Skywalker has perished in the destruction of the Temple, Ben took the name "Kylo Ren," becoming an apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke and Master of the Knights of Ren. He was trained by the Supreme Leader, and that training helped make Ben nothing more than a distant memory in the life of Kylo Ren. In time, he was the most gifted apprentice of the Supreme Leader and the embodiment of a new generation of dark side warriors that emerged to fill the void left by the fall of the Sith, which became extinct with the deaths of Ren's grandfather and his Sith Master Darth Sidious aboard the Death Star II during the Battle of Endor. Unbeknownst to Ren, Skywalker survived the tragedy, but he was forever changed upon witnessing the corpses of his Jedi apprentices.
Ren's betrayal sent shockwaves through his family. With his Jedi destroyed, Skywalker vanished into exile. Those closest to him believed that he went in search of the first Jedi Temple, which he eventually discovered on the planet Ahch-To. Organa and Solo separated, with Solo returning to smuggling with his best friend and first mate, the Wookiee warrior Chewbacca. Organa returned to a life of war, forming a band of soldiers known as the Resistance when the New Republic Senate refused to take the emerging threat of the First Order seriously. Though Solo believed there was too much of Darth Vader in Ben and that they lost their son forever, Organa never gave up hope that there was still good in him.
By decree of the Supreme Leader, Ren's true name could never be spoken. Ren sought to put his past behind him, become immune to the temptations of the light, and claim his birthright by ruling the weaker beings of the galaxy. He typically wore a combat helmet, patterned after the battle gear of the Knights of Ren, in order to conceal his identity and give him a more intimidating presence. This helmet also contained a vocal modifier, which lowered the pitch of Ren's voice considerably. Ren's actions as a Jedi earned him the nickname "Jedi Killer," a name whispered amongst the First Order ranks who knew Ren had prevented the return of the Jedi Order. No longer a Jedi but neither a Sith, Ren strove to harness the pain of his emotional conflict in order to fuel his extraordinary powers and destroy the last traces of the Jedi tradition.
Ren's desire to put the light side behind him was a key part of how he viewed his heritage. He came to idolize Darth Vader and kept his grandfather's burned helmet as a shrine to the legacy of the Dark Lord of the Sith, hoping to destroy the last Jedi as Vader had once intended and stamp put the last remnants of the light side of the Force. Though Skywalker had redeemed Vader during the Battle of Endor—allowing his father, Anakin to fulfill the ancient prophecy of the Chosen One—Ren and Snoke both believed that Darth Vader was Anakin's true self and that his redemption had simply been a single yet fatal error in an otherwise important life. Interestingly, Ren had either been contacted at some point by Anakin or believed that he had, as he once beseeched of Vader's helmet to "show [him] again, the power of the darkness."
At some point, Ren built his own custom lightsaber. The crude design was an ancient one, dating back thousands of years to a battle between the Jedi and Sith on the planet Malachor. It was built with a cracked kyber crystal, one that could barely contain the weapon's power. As a result of the broken crystal, the lightsaber required vents on either side to divert the excess heat, necessitating its crossguard design. It also gave the red blade an unstable and fiery, flickering appearance.
As an apprentice to Supreme Leader Snoke and an enforcer of Snoke's will (much like his grandfather had been to Emperor Palpatine during the reign of the Galactic Empire), Ren became an influential member of the First Order's power structure. Though he had direct access to the Supreme Leader and could command military officers, he existed outside of the official military command structure. This led to some tension with the First Order's upper ranks, who contended with him despite being wary that his agenda trumped military objectives. This arrangement deliberately mirrored the Galactic Empire's relationship with Darth Vader, who existed outside of the formal military hierarchy but could nonetheless command the Imperial Military in his own objectives. This tension was particularly palpable with General Armitage Hux, the commander of Starkiller Base, the First Order superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems. Ren, who was part of an unofficial Starkiller Base command triumvirate with Hux and Captain Phasma of the First Order military, had little regard for Hux as a warrior; Hux's military experience was mostly theoretical and based on simulated but nonetheless respected battlefield scenarios. Hux, likewise, was a man of science and had little understanding of Ren's mystical ways. Both vied for the attention of the Supreme Leader.
Over time Ren's reputation came to rival that of Hux and Phasma, both of whom were noted among the First Order ranks for their power and influence. Nevertheless, soldiers such as Captain Cardinal held Ren in high regard, believing he would be the one to lead the First Order to victory.
- "Kylo Ren himself has taken an interest in your missteps."
"Ah, yes, very intimidating. I met Vader once, Phasma. Now there was a terrifying magical strongman for you."
- ―Phasma and Terex
Although Ren commanded the respect of soldiers like Cardinal, Agent Terex was less than impressed by the dark side warrior's attempt to emulate Darth Vader. Following his failure to obtain information from the Hutt crime lord Grakkus, Terex neglected to report to the First Order. Phasma informed Terex that his mistakes had caught Ren's attention and while he did remind the former stormtrooper of Vader, Terex—who had once met the Dark Lord of the Sith—did not fear Ren in the way that others feared his grandfather. In Terex's view, Vader was a truly terrifying individual compared to the young Knight of Ren.
The search for Skywalker
Both Ren and the Supreme Leader understood that if Skywalker and the Jedi were to ever return, they would be a grave threat to the future of the First Order. The people who were closest to Skywalker believed he had gone in search of the first Jedi temple, the location of which had been lost. A partial map was recovered from the archives of the Galactic Empire, but it was missing a key piece of the puzzle. The First Order soon discovered that the missing map fragment was in the possession of Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force on Jakku who believed that the return of the Jedi was essential for bringing balance to the Force. Ren, who knew San Tekka from childhood as the explorer was once an old ally of Organa and Skywalker, brought the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer in his search for the map.
Mission to Pillio
- "Tell me where Lor San Tekka took the map."
"…Bayora. He took it to Bayora."
- ―Kylo Ren and Del Meeko
The hunt for Skywalker caused Ren to undertake a journey the planet Pillio. Although San Tekka was not found on the world, the First Order's allies captured and detained Del Meeko, a veteran of the Galactic Civil War who served the Empire and New Republic, in turn, as a member of Inferno Squad. Upon his arrival, the dark warrior was greeted by Protectorate Gleb of Jinata Security. Dismissive of the formalities, he instructed the Aqualish officer to lead him to Meeko. He found the former soldier wounded and alone on the bridge of the Raider II-class corvette Corvus.
Ignoring the prisoner's sarcasm, Ren used the Force to probe through Meeko's mind, determined to learn where San Tekka took the map. For all of Meeko's efforts to resist the probe, invading his mind was a relatively simple task for Ren, who saw memories ranging across the former commando's life—from his service on Scarif as a coastal defender stormtrooper to his participation in the Battle of Endor and the skirmish on Vardos. He also learned that Meeko encountered Skywalker on Pillio and subsequently discovered his faith in the Force. Ultimately, Meeko was unable to resist Ren's powers and revealed that San Tekka took the map with him to Bayora. Having gained the information he sought, Ren turned the prisoner over to First Order officer Gideon Hask, one of Meeko's former teammates in the Inferno Squad prior the Empire's fall, who executed Meeko shortly thereafter.
- "General Hux… I know where we must go… and I know this is the key. We are so close."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Armitage Hux
Later, Ren, Hux and two First Order admirals gathered in a conference room aboard the Finalizer over the planet GUHL-JO387O. They were discussing travel to a planet in the Western Reaches. While in the conference, the creature that FN-2187 was chasing turned off the lights, interrupting the conference. After the conference, Ren told Phasma to take a squad of trainees to investigate the planet for any Resistance activity.
Raid on Jakku
- "The map to Skywalker. We know you've found it, and now you're going to give it to the First Order."
"The First Order rose from the dark side. You did not."
"I'll show you the dark side."
"You may try, but you cannot deny the truth that is your family."
"You're so right."
- ―Kylo Ren and Lor San Tekka, moments before the latter's death
Ren’s search later brought him to Jakku, where its military attacked the village of Tuanul, where San Tekka lived. Once the First Order stormtroopers, under the command of Phasma, rounded up the denizens of the village, Ren arrived on the battlefield and confronted San Tekka, lamenting how old the former explorer had become, to which San Tekka replied that Ren's fall to the dark side was far worse. Ren demanded that San Tekka give the map to the First Order, but San Tekka refused to submit to the will of the dark side and reminded the one-time Jedi that Ren could not deny the truth of his heritage, at which point Ren struck him down with his lightsaber while sarcastically agreeing with him.
Moments later, he was shot at from afar by Commander Poe Dameron, a starfighter pilot in the Resistance who was sent to Jakku by General Organa to find the map before the First Order. Ren used the Force to freeze the blaster bolt midair, and Dameron was soon brought before him. The dark warrior realized that Tekka gave the map to Dameron and ordered that the troopers bring the pilot onto Ren's command shuttle, before giving the order to kill the rest of the villagers. One stormtrooper, FN-2187, hesitated and ultimately chose not to fire on the civilians, an act that Ren noticed as he could sense his fear before boarding his shuttle.
- "The droid… stole a freighter?"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Dopheld Mitaka
Dameron was brought aboard the Finalizer for interrogation, where he was placed into an interrogation chair. The device, used by the dark warrior to extract information from his prisoners, was based on similar devices once used by the Inquisitors of the Galactic Empire. First Order interrogators were unable to break Dameron, but they did learn that he was the best pilot in the Resistance, a feat that Ren noted once he began interrogating the pilot personally. Though the dark knight was impressed that Dameron had not yet been broken, Ren began to use the Force to mentally extract the information from Dameron's mind. The pilot, who resisted the Force attack, finally was forced to reveal that he had hidden the map inside his BB unit, BB-8, who was likely still on Jakku. Ren informed General Hux of the new development and left the recovery of the droid in the hands of the military.
Shortly after leaving Dameron under the guard of several stormtroopers, Ren arrived on the Finalizer's bridge upon hearing that the Resistance pilot escaped aboard a TIE fighter. Hux confirmed this with the additional information of Dameron having had help from someone within the First Order's ranks. Ren realized that it could only have been FN-2187 after remembering how the conflicted soldier had hesitated in Tuanul, and he said as much to Hux. The TIE fighter was eventually shot down after a brief skirmish, and it crash-landed on Jakku.
The First Order recognized that Dameron and FN-2187 were looking for the droid, so Hux ordered a squadron to be sent to Jakku to recover it first. Hux soon spoke to the Supreme Leader, who ordered them to capture the droid if they could, but destroy it if they must. Ren questioned the capability of Hux's soldiers and training methods, wondering aloud whether the Supreme Leader would be better off using an army of clones as the Galactic Republic and the early Empire had once done. Hux told him that they were more than capable, and warned Ren not to let his personal mission to find Skywalker interfere with the Supreme Leader's orders.
Later that day, a nervous Lieutenant Dopheld Mitaka informed Ren that the astromech droid escaped aboard a YT-1300 light freighter. At first, Ren found it unlikely for a single droid to be capable of stealing a ship but allowed Mitaka to continue. Further intelligence suggested the probability of FN-2187 abetting the droid's evacuation from Jakku. Enraged that the traitor had robbed him of the means to find Skywalker, Ren ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the computer terminal in front of him. The dark warrior calmed down, asking if there was "anything else." Mitaka replied that FN-2187 and the droid had help from a girl. Ren used the Force to drag Mitaka towards him, grabbed him by the neck, and demanded to know who the girl was.
Return of the past
- "The droid we seek is aboard the Millennium Falcon. In the hands of your father, Han Solo."
"He means nothing to me."
"Even you, Master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test."
"By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced."
"We shall see. We shall see."
- ―Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke
With BB-8 gone, the Finalizer made its way to Starkiller Base. Once there, Ren and Hux spoke to Supreme Leader Snoke, who communicated to his subordinates via an enlarged hologram. Snoke remained concerned that Skywalker's return would be a threat to the First Order, so Hux proposed that they finally use the weapon as intended and destroy the New Republic one and for all. Without the Republic, Hux knew that the Resistance would be vulnerable and could be stopped before they found Skywalker. The Supreme Leader gave the general his permission and Hux left to oversee preparations, while Ren remained behind.
Both Snoke and Ren could sense that the Force was awakening from dormancy once again, and the Supreme Leader told his apprentice that BB-8 was in the hands of Han Solo; the old smuggler found his ship, the Millennium Falcon, with Rey and FN-2187 aboard and agreed to help return the droid to the Resistance. Ren claimed Solo meant nothing to him and that he would not be seduced by the light as his grandfather once was, not while he had Snoke's training. Even so, the Supreme Leader warned that this would be Ren's greatest test.
Though Ren claimed he would not be seduced, he nonetheless felt the pull of the light side. In his personal quarters aboard the Finalizer, Ren spoke to the helmet of Darth Vader, searching for guidance and hoping that the legacy of the Dark Lord could remind him of the power of the dark side. He swore that if Vader could somehow show him that dark power, then Ren would finish what Vader started and destroy the last of the Jedi.
Capture of Rey
- "You still want to kill me."
"That happens when you're being hunted by a creature in a mask."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
The First Order soon learned that Solo, the girl, FN-2187, and BB-8 had landed on Takodana and were in the castle of the ancient pirate Maz Kanata, who Solo hoped would help deliver the droid to the Resistance. Before the First Order departed, General Hux unleashed the Starkiller weapon against the Republic. After giving a speech to his forces about the end of a regime that he believed could not contain galactic chaos, Hux ordered that the weapon be fired. Ren watched from the bridge of the Finalizer as the weapon's phantom energy left the surface of Starkiller Base and made their way to the Republic's capital of Hosnian Prime, where they destroyed the entire Hosnian system.
With the Republic severely damaged, Ren led his forces to Takodana, where the stormtroopers attacked Kanata's castle. Solo, FN-2187, and BB-8 were briefly captured by the First Order before Dameron and the Resistance Starfighter Corps arrived to recover the droid, while the girl and BB-8 tried to escape through the forest. The two split up, as the girl led stormtroopers away from the droid. Ren soon arrived on the battlefield and found the girl in the woods. She fired at him with her blaster, but he followed her and deflected the shots with his lightsaber. Finally, Ren froze her in place with a telekinetic attack.
He peered into the girl's mind, learning of her life as a scavenger in the junkyards of Jakku. Going further, he saw that Rey had seen the map. The First Order wouldn't be needing BB-8, he believed, and so he placed the girl in an unconscious state with the Force and carried her to his command shuttle. He ordered the First Order to retreat, as they had what they came for, and their forces left Takodana. BB-8 ultimately made it out of the forests and into the hands of the Resistance.
Ren brought the girl to Starkiller Base, restraining her in an interrogation chair. When she awoke, she asked where her friends were, and Ren told her he had no idea. He sensed she still wanted to kill him, and Rey said it was because she was being hunted by a creature in a mask. The dark warrior removed his mask to show his human face and asked about the droid, but the girl only gave him BB-8's technical specifications. Ren told her that he knew about the map and that the First Order had recovered the rest of it from the archives of the Empire.
Knowing the girl was resilient, Ren warned her that he could take whatever he wanted from her mind. He touched her face and began probing her mind with the Force. At first, he got a hold of the her name: Rey. Next, he could feel loneliness and fear within her, followed by the sight of an ocean and an island. Then he sensed Han Solo. Ren could tell that Rey looked at the smuggler as a father figure, but he said that Solo would have only disappointed her. Finally, Rey began to become more strongly resistant to his mental attacks. She soon turned the mental probing around on him, using the Force within herself to see that Ren himself was afraid—afraid that he would never be as strong as Darth Vader was.
Snoke's new strategy
- "If what you say about this girl is true, bring her to me."
Stunned by the reversal, Ren left Rey behind in the interrogation chamber and spoke to the Supreme Leader, who reacted with incredulity that a mere scavenger resisted him. Ren told Snoke that Rey was strong with the Force, stronger than she even knew. The Supreme Leader asked what happened to the droid, and General Hux, who had just entered the chamber, told Snoke that Ren believed he only needed Rey and allowed the droid to escape. Concerned that the Resistance might have the full map to Skywalker, Snoke ordered Hux to unleash the Starkiller weapon against the Resistance base on the planet D'Qar. Ren swore that he could still find the map in Rey’s mind as long as he had his master’s guidance, so the Supreme Leader ordered Rey to be brought to him.
When Ren returned to the chamber where Rey was being held, she was nowhere to be found, having used her emerging Force abilities to escape. Enraged, Ren ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the chamber, causing two passing stormtroopers to quickly back away.
Han Solo's last stand
- "Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father. So I destroyed him."
"That's what Snoke wants you to believe but it's not true. My son is alive."
"No. The Supreme Leader is wise."
- ―Kylo Ren and Han Solo
Ren commanded the First Order troops to be on alert for Rey as she began making her way through the base, as he knew that the longer she was able to tap into her powers while escaping, the more powerful she would become. A trooper reported sensor readings in Hangar 718, which meant Rey could be there. But investigations turned up nothing. Nonetheless, Ren wanted every hangar on lockdown to prevent Rey from commandeering a ship. Right in the middle of that order, he was interrupted by a familiar presence: Han Solo. His father was on Starkiller Base.
Ren ordered for a search of the Millennium Falcon, for the ship had shortly been sighted at the edge of a cliff. By the time he arrived on the scene, everything checked clear and not a single hidden trap could be found. He boarded the Falcon and sat on the pilot's seat, looking for anything that may lead him to Solo's whereabouts. Just then, he spotted Resistance X-wings flying past and assaulting the thermal oscillator, hoping to destroy it and set off a chain reaction that would cause the planet to implode before the weapon could destroy D'Qar. Ren rushed to the oscillator, commanding his troops to find the intruders. He knew Solo had to be nearby, as well as the fact that he did not come alone.
As Ren advanced on the walkway, he stopped upon hearing the voice of his father, calling out to him from behind, using his birth name. He turned about face and said he had been waiting for this eventuality. Solo told him to remove the mask so he could see the face of his son once more. Ren removed the mask but told Solo that he had destroyed Ben, who Ren thought was weak and foolish like his father was. Solo refused to believe that; he said his son was alive and that Snoke was simply using Ren for his power, and that once Snoke had gotten what he wanted from Ren, he'd "crush" him. Ren, while neither denying nor confirming what Solo said about Snoke to be true, stated that it was too late for him. Solo pleaded with Ren to come home, saying that he and Organa missed having their boy with them. Ren, conflicted by the pull towards the light, broke down in tears and told his father that he was being torn apart by the constant struggle between the dark and the light inside him and wanted to be free of the pain that he was feeling. He knew what he had to do to end the pain, but he did not know if he had the strength to do it. So he asked for his father's help, and Solo agreed, not knowing that it was the light that Ren felt conflicted by.
Ren, who was being watched from afar by Chewbacca, Rey, and FN-2187, took out his lightsaber and Solo grabbed hold of it. As the Starkiller finished draining the star it orbited to power the weapon, and the light on the planet died out, Ren ignited his lightsaber and impaled his father through the torso. A mortally wounded Han Solo touched his son's face one last time before falling to his death in the bowels of the oscillator.
The act of killing his father had an unsettling effect on Ren. Rather than make him stronger in the dark side, as he had thought, it had weakened his spirit. He was rendered unbalanced. The shock had been so profound, he did not register Chewbacca's roar of anguish, nor Rey's scream of horror.
Enraged by the loss of his best friend, Chewbacca fired a powerful shot from his Wookiee bowcaster and hit Ren in the left side, seriously injuring the dark knight. Quickly, Ren used the Force to reduce the effects of the wound, lest it may result in his premature death. Chewbacca killed several other stormtroopers in the area as Rey and FN-2187, who were high above in the oscillator, began firing into the area as well. The Wookiee then ignited charges that he and Solo set throughout the oscillator, causing a massive explosion that breached the oscillator and gave Dameron and the remaining Resistance pilots an opportunity to destroy it. As Ren composed himself from his injury, he made eye contact with FN-2187 and Rey. Anger swelling within him, he was resolved to find them before they could escape.
Duel in the forest
- "We're not done yet."
"You're a monster!"
"It's just us now. Han Solo can't save you."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
Ren followed Rey and FN-2187 into the forests outside of the oscillator, as they made their way back to the nearby Millennium Falcon. He confronted them, lightsaber drawn, and said that they still had unfinished business which Han Solo could not save them from. Outraged by Ren's patricidal actions, Rey denounced the dark warrior as a monster and tried to attack him with her blaster, but he used the Force to throw her into a tree and knock her unconscious. Now it was just Ren and the traitor who had earned his ire.
FN-2187 ignited the lightsaber that had been given to him for safekeeping by Maz Kanata—a lightsaber that once belonged to Luke Skywalker, and to Anakin before him. Ren demanded that FN-2187 give him the lightsaber, claiming it belonged to him, but instead FN-2187 engaged him in a lightsaber duel. It was a short but brutal contest, in which Ren kept striking his bowcaster injury in order to fuel his anger and power. In the end, FN-2187, who nonetheless landed one blow on Ren's right shoulder, was no match for Ren's power. Ren overwhelmed and disarmed his opponent, ending the fight with a punch and a lightsaber blow across FN-2187's back that left the one-time stormtrooper comatose.
With the duel seemingly over, Ren turned his attention towards his grandfather's lightsaber and attempted to use the Force to draw it into his hand. Instead, it flew past him and landed in the hands of Rey, who used the Force to call it to her—as it was her destiny to wield the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker. Rey ignited the weapon and engaged Ren in a tense duel. At first, Ren had the upper hand, remaining on the offensive as he pressed his attack against the retreating scavenger. Their blades became locked, and Ren told the emerging Force-sensitive that she needed a teacher. It was he, Ren said, who could show her the ways of the Force. At that moment, Rey realized she could call upon the powers of the Force and began using that to her advantage. She turned the tide of the fight and pushed her own offensive against the dark warrior, who she was finally able to disarm. In doing so, she slashed her blade across his face, knocking him down and disfiguring him in the process.
Before they could engage any further, the surface of the planet began to break apart—the Resistance was victorious, and the destruction of the oscillator triggered the Starkiller's implosion. Ren and Rey were separated by a deep chasm, so Rey left the dark warrior behind, recovered FN-2187, and fled the planet with Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon.
As the planet continued to collapse, Snoke ordered General Hux to find Ren and bring the young knight before the Supreme Leader so the young warrior training could be completed. Hux and several troopers tracked Ren's signal and took him aboard a shuttle, leaving before the planet exploded. Immediately Starkiller Base's destruction, Ren received treatment for the long scars on his body, though it was too late to erase them completely.
Let the past die
- "Alas, you're no Vader. You're just a child in a mask."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
Following the Resistance's evacuation of the base on D'Qar, Ren was summoned to Supreme Leader Snoke's throne room, located in the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy. The blows inflicted on him by Rey and Chewbacca were still as fresh as ever, causing him some discomfort, though he tried to hide this. Kneeling before his master, he listened as Snoke loudly recalled the raw, untamed power that Ren possessed, abilities which had originally brought him to the dark sider's attention. Knowing the potential of the powerful Skywalker bloodline, the Supreme Leader revealed his belief that Ren could fulfill his grandfather's dark legacy.
But in light of his apprentice's most recent setback, Snoke retracted his faith in Ren's power. He chastised the dark warrior, calling him weak and sentimental, just like his late father. The struggle within Ren as he prepared to strike down Han Solo had been sensed by Snoke from afar. It was the trauma from this action that caused him to be outmatched by an untrained scavenger, who had never before wielded a lightsaber. Snoke had never seen such a pathetic display.
Enraged, Ren rose to meet his master, but Snoke quickly suppressed the attack with a surge of lightning. As long as Luke Skywalker lived, Snoke seethed—as long as the Jedi remained—so did hope across the galaxy. Ren would never be able to destroy it because he was a mere child hiding in a mask; nothing like the feared Darth Vader. Leaving the throne room, Ren erupted in a rage of self-pity and smashed his helmet against the surrounding metal. He then ordered his ship to be readied, resuming his quest to eradicate the Resistance.
Chasing the Resistance
- "Follow my lead."
- ―Kylo Ren, to his wingmen
As Hux had anticipated through new tracking technology, the First Order armada emerged out of hyperspace to find the Resistance fleet unprepared and defenseless. The warship Supremacy led the charge, its powerful turbolasers showering the fleet with unyielding blasts. To complement the barrage, the Supremacy scrambled its short-distance fighters, with Ren spearheading the assault in his personal TIE Silencer. Covered by three wingmen, until the third pilot was quickly destroyed, the dark apprentice intercepted the Resistance's MC85 Star Cruiser Raddus, capital ship of the fleet. Before the rebel pilots could launch a counterattack, he destroyed the Raddus hangar, leaving them unable to resist the fighter wing.
With the Resistance flagship crippled, Ren turned his fighter to face the bridge of the craft, readying his rockets. At this moment he sensed his mother's presence aboard the Raddus (with his mother likewise sensing him too) and Ren, hesitating, held his thumb over the trigger in a moment of intense doubt. After a moment, he surrendered to his second thoughts and abandoned the trigger control. His wingmen, however, had no such qualms—ever loyal to the First Order, they launched their rockets in Ren's place upon the bridge.
Ren watched the detonation with astonishment. He reached out again, but could not feel Organa anywhere. He believed that if he had had enough time, if he had not been taken by surprise, he would have protected his mother with the Force. Now, however, he had to conclude that she had died, along with all those present on the Raddus' bridge.
Following this last offensive, Hux ordered the fighters back to the Supremacy, as the Resistance fleet had pulled out of the Supremacy's protective radius in the intervening time. Ren, with his wingmen being blown up around him, had no other recourse but to comply.
A growing connection
- "I'd never felt so alone."
"You're not alone."
"Neither are you. It isn't too late…"
- ―Rey and Kylo Ren
As the First Order's pursuit of the Resistance fleet, Ren was being treated for the injury he had taken to his face, a medical droid removing the micro-sutures that had been attached to it, when he sensed a disturbance. Before he knew it, a vision of Rey appeared before him. Taken aback by surprise, Ren could only watch as Rey reached for her blaster and shot him. However, no shot injured him. The still shocked Ren pursued Rey when she ran away and found her soon after and tried to use the Mind Trick to force Rey to bring Luke to him, only to soon realize that they weren't actually in the same location and that Rey had not projected her appearance to him as the effort would also kill her in the process. He even discovered that Rey had found Luke Skywalker and was now studying under him, although he could not discern where as he was unable to see Rey's surroundings. Whereas the aspiring Jedi regarded their connection as an inconvenience, Ren was intrigued by his bond with the former scavenger and sought to better understand it.
The bond between Ren and Rey was unprecedented in its strength and raw power. It also had an effect on Ren's churning emotions and as it grew stronger in the Force, Rey started gaining new insights into Ren who, to Rey's surprise, no longer tried to hide his feelings of pain and misery from her. It was because of the bond and her new understanding of Ren's pain that Rey came to suspect that their destinies were intertwined. Ren eventually revealed his recollection of the night he forsook Skywalker's teachings—how he awoke to the sound of a lightsaber, held by his uncle who intended to murder Ben Solo in his sleep—shaking Rey's faith in her Jedi Master. Although Rey called him a liar, she sensed no deception from Ren. He genuinely believed that his former mentor had betrayed him and intended to kill him while he was defenseless.
After failing to discover the fate of her parents, Rey sought out Ren through their bond because he understood what it was like to feel alone and lost. They comforted each other, insisting that neither was alone and in that moment they touched hands. Rey then beheld a vision of the future, leading her to believe that Ren was fated to renounce the dark side and return to the light, like his grandfather before him.
As a result of what she saw, Rey became convinced that her adversary could be turned from the dark side of the Force. She left Skywalker on his sanctuary and traveled to the Supremacy to see Ren, her actions guided by the belief that Ben Solo could be redeemed with her help. By touching hands, however, Ren experienced a vision of his own and thereby discerned the truth of Rey's father and mother: they were no one, merely a pair of junk traders who sold their daughter for drinking money before ultimately dying and being buried in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert. This discovery convinced Ren that Rey would turn to the dark side and stand with him as they moved to confront his master together.
- "My worthy apprentice, son of darkness, heir apparent to Lord Vader. Where there was conflict I now sense resolve, where there was weakness, strength. Complete your training and fulfill your destiny."
- ―Snoke's final words to Kylo Ren
Ren's emotions were fully open to Rey, who could feel that his conflict had grown worse ever since he killed his father. Clinging to the good she sensed within the dark side warrior, she reached out to the former Ben Solo and revealed her conviction in the vision she had when they touched hands through the Force. Solo was not fated to continue bowing before Snoke. Redemption was his destiny; of that Rey was certain. Ren, however, revealed that he also beheld a vision that convinced him it would be Rey who turned; because he now knew the truth behind Rey's parentage. Just before they entered the throne room where the Supreme Leader awaited their arrival, Rey sensed that much of Ren's churning emotions were about her.
Snoke, who proclaimed that his faith in Ren had been restored, began appraising Rey who remained defiant in spite of her inability to resist the dark master's Force powers. Although Rey remained certain that Ren would turn, her mental defenses began to crumble when Snoke revealed that he had been responsible for the intermittent connections she experienced with the Supreme Leader's apprentice, a revelation which came as a shock to Ren as well. It had all been a plot to draw Rey, the means to find Luke Skywalker, right into Snoke's hands. Nevertheless, Ren remained silent as Rey screamed, trying in vain to stop Snoke from invading her mind.
Upon discovering Skywalker's location, Snoke planned to wipe him out from above as soon as the more immediate enemy had been dealt with. Rey summoned Skywalker's lightsaber to her hand, only for Snoke to redirect the hilt onto her head; Ren, eyes shut, merely tilted his head to the right to avoid being struck by the flying object. The Supreme Leader revealed through his oculus the Resistance being picked off one by one as they tried to flee aboard transports for safety. All that Ren's mother had fought for would be destroyed by the Supremacy's guns. In response, an enraged Rey pulled Ren's lightsaber into her hands and charged at Snoke, who effortlessly overpowered her. Ren watched the lightsaber fall out of Rey's grip and shut off, sliding on the floor back to its owner's feet.
Snoke, who had grown weary of his aft-conflicted apprentice, exulted at the newfound resolve that he suddenly felt emanating from Ren. Having promised to kill Rey with the cruelest stroke, he immobilized Rey and gave Ren the chance to execute the girl who defeated him on Starkiller Base. Ren retrieved his lightsaber, stood up and stepped towards Rey. He knew what must be done and, as Rey predicted, he did indeed turn against his master. Knowing that Snoke could sense his every intent, he turned his lightsaber to Rey while simultaneously his uncle's weapon rotated to face in Snoke's direction. Snoke, who became distracted by the desire to appreciate Rey's impending doom with the Force rather than the approximation afforded by mundane senses, believed that Ren was about to kill his true enemy—a status he wrongly attributed to Rey.
With a hidden gesture from Ren's free hand, the blue energy blade of Skywalker's lightsaber sprang forth, spearing Snoke through his wrists and waist. Almost instantly, Snoke's control on Rey was lost. The blade, which was still under Ren's control, carved through Snoke, cutting him in half before returning to Rey's grasp. After a moment of locking eyes with each other, Ren and Rey stood back-to-back to receive the retaliation of the fallen Supreme Leader's Elite Praetorian Guards, who charged towards the Force-sensitive duo from all sides with the intent of avenging his death. Although the two were eventually separated and forced to contend with multiple guards on their own, they both held their own and continued to strike down one Praetorian after another. Ren, who felt both excitement and a hunger for battle, personally killed half the Guards on his own but was disarmed by his fifth opponent, causing Rey to throw the Skywalker lightsaber to him. He swiftly thumbed it on and off, letting the blade pierce through last Praetorian's head.
- "It's time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker. The Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels… Let it all die. Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
Rey, who stared at Ren through eyes filled with joy, beseeched him to help her save the Resistance fleet. To her disbelief and horror, Ren proposed that he and Rey join together and "let old things die," including the Resistance, and bring a new order to the galaxy. Neither fear or anger influenced his decision; he had chosen to continue down the dark path with a deep resolve. Rey begged Ren to not give into the dark side, but the latter stood behind his convictions. To his frustration, he could see that Rey was still clinging to that futile hope of hers. He urged her to "let go," to admit the truth about her parents—a truth she had always known but hidden away for years: that her parents had been nothing but junk dealers who had sold her away for drinking money. Rey struggled to control her emotions as she admitted that she knew this, but the revelation that she came from nothing threatened to overwhelm her. At that moment, Ren admitted that Rey was not "nothing" to him. Ren, who saw Rey as an ally in destroying the past he hated, wanted the former scavenger to join him permanently. Motioning her to take his hand, he pleaded with her to stay with him so that they could rule the galaxy together..
As on Starkiller Base, however, Rey used the Force to summon the Skywalker lightsaber her grasp. Ren, his entreaty rejected, raised his own hand to harness the Force around the lightsaber, causing it to stop mid-flight. Neither Ren or Rey relented as both continued to call upon the Jedi weapon with equal determination. In the midst of their standoff, the lightsaber's kyber crystal wailed through the Force, seeking resonance and harmony where there was nothing but dissonance. The crystal ultimately sheared apart, unleashing a wave of energy that tore the lightsaber in half before consuming the throne room in a flash of brilliant, blinding light. In addition to rendering both Force users unconscious, the shockwave of Force energy coincided with the sacrifice of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who crashed the Raddus into the Supremacy at lightspeed, splitting the First Order flagship in half before it could destroy all of the Resistance transports.
Supreme Leader Kylo Ren
- "Our Supreme Leader is dead! We have no ruler—"
"The Supreme Leader is dead."
"Long live the Supreme Leader…"
- ―Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren
Ren regained consciousness shortly after Hux reached the throne room. Having killed the Supreme Leader and his guards, Ren falsely accused Rey of murder, claiming that she was the one responsible for Snoke's death. Hux, who had contemplated shooting the fallen knight before he awoke, informed Ren that the girl escaped from the Supremacy using Snoke's private shuttle. Realizing that Rey had awoken before him, Ren pondered why she had spared his life, knowing he was at her mercy while in an unconscious state. It then occurred to Ren that Rey could, in fact, care about him. Regardless, he dismissed it as a sign of sentimental weakness that would eventually lead to Rey's destruction.
Knowing that Rey would travel to Crait in an effort to save the Resistance, Ren ordered Hux to send their forces to the planet where they would end the war and his mother's movement for good. Hux scoffed at the notion of taking orders from his longtime rival and reminded Ren that the army answered to their general. In addition, he pointed out that, without a Supreme Leader, the First Order was cast into a state of disarray. Before he could go on, the General's protests were suddenly silenced by Ren, who applied the Force choke technique on Hux. Overtaken by fear, Hux grudgingly pledged his allegiance to Ren, whom he hailed as Snoke's successor. Even so, Ren remained distrustful of Hux and chose to keep the General close by as a safeguard against treachery.
Battle of Crait
- "General Hux, advance. No quarter. No prisoners."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Armitage Hux
As far as the new Supreme Leader was concerned, the Battle of Crait would be the last battle in the war between the First Order and the Resistance. He would give no quarter to his enemies or take a single prisoner. Looming overhead in his command shuttle, Ren oversaw the deployment of AT-ATs, AT-M6s, and AT-STs to the salt-covered surface of Crait, gathered from what remained of the Supremacy. It would be a relatively straightforward operation, with Ren's forces marching on an abandoned rebel base which the Resistance had appropriated for its defense.
When the First Order discovered a massive shield door impeding their advance into the enclosure, Ren further deployed a superlaser siege cannon—a sort of battering ram equipped with miniaturized Death Star technology—to his advantage. In response, the Resistance launched a number of old ski speeders, an ultimately futile attempt to stop the cannon. While the Resistance attempted to halt the First Order's progress, Chewbacca and Rey joined the fray in the Millennium Falcon, and Ren furiously sent every TIE fighter present to destroy his father's old ship.
Confrontation with Luke Skywalker
- "I've failed you, Ben. I'm sorry."
"I'm sure you are! The Resistance is dead! The war is over, and when I kill you, I will have killed the last Jedi!"
"Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning, and I will not be the last Jedi."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren
Shortly after the First Order breached the base, Luke Skywalker appeared and Ren, in a futile attempt to eliminate his uncle, ordered all of his forces to fire at him. After Skywalker shrugged off the attack virtually unharmed, Ren ordered his command shuttle to be set down. Hux tried to advise him against what he considered a waste of time, but Ren thrashed the General against the wall with the Force, knocking him unconscious. The nearby pilot needed no further prodding and complied with the command.
The time had come for Ren to face Skywalker personally. He slowly advanced until he was but a few meters from the old Jedi. He tauntingly asked if Skywalker had come to be his salvation. Skywalker answered half-heartedly in the negative. Then lightsabers were drawn. Skywalker made no effort to harm his nephew and only moved to avoid Ren's attacks. He apologized for failing in his duty as Ben Solo's Jedi Master, but Ren took it with sarcasm and declared that the war had ended with the death of the Resistance. In addition, he stated that Skywalker would die as well, marking the end of the Jedi Order itself. He was wrong on all accounts; according to Skywalker, the war had just begun, the Rebellion was reborn, and he would not die as the last of the Jedi.
Ren felt that Skywalker was talking about Rey, the old man's supposed "Chosen One." He vowed that he would see her annihilated, along with Skywalker and "all of it." In response, Skywalker turned off his lightsaber. He warned his nephew against striking him down in anger, otherwise Skywalker would always be with Ren, just like Han Solo. It was thus that he opened himself up for the final blow.
Ren charged at Skywalker once more until he slashed through him with no effect. Confused, he pointed his lightsaber in the Grand Master's direction and moved forward until the blade harmlessly passed through his uncle again, revealing that Skywalker was not actually present for the battle; he had been projecting himself through the Force from Ahch-To. With one final chiding goodbye, the image had vanished.
At that moment, Ren realized what had his uncle had done: by distracting him, the old Jedi had bought time for the remaining members of the Resistance to escape. Hux had been right all along. Angered by the deception, Ren, Hux and their forces scoured the now-empty base, but finding only a projection of his father's golden hanging dice, all Ren could do was kneel in defeat as they vanished from his hand. As the Resistance evacuated, Ren saw Rey once more as she boarded the Millennium Falcon; no words were said as she closed the door on him, although Ren sensed that Rey felt neither hatred nor compassion for him. Ren had become Supreme Leader, all but destroyed most of his mother's movement and struck down his uncle, but that didn't feel much like a victory.
Personality and traits
- "Yes. There it is. You have too much of your father's heart in you, young Solo."
"I killed Han Solo. When the moment came I didn't hesitate."
"And look at you. The deed split your spirit to the bone."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren was the embodiment of conflict. The dark warrior, whose blood flowed with the legacy of some of the most powerful Jedi and Sith in galactic history, represented a focal point between the dark side and the light, a balance that made him a target of Supreme Leader Snoke so Ren's powers could be used to further the ambitions of the First Order. His fall to the dark side suppressed the boy who had once been named Ben Solo, a name that the Supreme Leader decreed could never be spoken in the First Order.
Even prior to his descent, however, Solo nonetheless had deep-seated insecurities rooted from Han Solo and Leia Organa's neglect in raising him. He also believed that his parents thought he was disturbed, having overheard their conversations about him and his perceived lack of control over his innate Force abilities when he was still a child. As a result, he interpreted his mother's decision to send him away for Jedi training as her way of abandoning him. Despite his feelings of desertion, Ren did not hate his parents. Although the act of patricide led Rey—who did not understand the dark warrior's motive for killing his father—to believe that Ren loathed Han, Ren confessed that it was not hatred which had caused him to strike down the elder Solo. Whereas he struggled against his conscience to take the life of his father, he could not bring himself to commit matricide.
As Kylo Ren, he strove to bury his past, though the painful experiences and emotions from his youth were nonetheless something he could channel in order to further his own power. He ultimately hoped to build an immunity to the light, and to succeed where Darth Vader failed. Although he intended to adhere fully to the dark side's teachings, he did ultimately have reservations to what he deemed to be unnecessary casualties, as evidenced by his speaking out against the ordered destruction of the Ileenium system before being outvoted by Snoke. After the Battle of Starkiller Base, Ren reflected on his duel with Rey and how she regarded him as a "monster." By then, he too saw himself as a monster.
Like Vader before him, Ren believed it was his destiny to rule over the weaker beings of the galaxy. He idolized his grandfather, but only the darkness that was Darth Vader—not the light of Anakin Skywalker. To Ren and the Supreme Leader, it was not poor strategy or arrogance that brought about the fall of the Galactic Empire: it was the sentimentality Vader held for his son, Luke Skywalker, which led to the Sith Lord's redemption; a foolish error in judgment and a momentary lapse in an otherwise great life. Ren believed that if Vader had not succumbed to the light, the Empire would have prevailed. He kept a shrine to Vader in his personal chambers aboard the Finalizer, with the charred remains of the Sith Lord's helmet that had been recovered from his funeral pyre on Endor, as both a monument to the dark side's powers and its weakness. He also kept a table of ashes made from the remains of his enemies.
Similar to his father, Han Solo, Ren had a sarcastic sense of humor. During the attack on Tuanul, he told Lor San Tekka that the latter was "so right" just before decapitating him, in reference to the old man's claim that Ren could not escape the truth about his heritage. Ren's sarcasm was also evident during the interrogation of Poe Dameron, whom the dark warrior asked if he was "comfortable." Shortly afterward, Ren posed a rhetorical question to General Hux in regards to the reliability of First Order stormtroopers, only to answer his own query by denouncing all of them as potential traitors.
Though Ren feared the light and knew he had to avoid Vader's sentimentality, the Supreme Leader nonetheless encouraged him to use the heritage of both the light and the dark, which only furthered Ren's inner conflict. He studied both the skills of the Jedi and arcane dark side lore, contradictory teachings that gave him his power through discord. These teachings made the often angry dark warrior, one whose great temper was honed to be a weapon of the First Order, the archetype of a new kind of dark-side user that filled the void left behind when the Sith were destroyed during the Battle of Endor.
Ren struggled to control his temper, yet often failed in his efforts when dealing with setbacks or criticism, resulting in destructive tantrums such as the destruction of computer terminals as well as his interrogation chamber. His tantrums appeared to have been common enough that any nearby stormtrooper avoided the area he was currently destroying. He struggled to keep his temper in check while listening to Snoke's disparaging remarks, only to feel the dark side rising within him to the point where he was physically unable to keep it contained, causing him to take a defiant stand against Snoke until his master subdued him with the Force. Once dismissed, however, Ren unleashed the dark side in the form of a violent outburst of emotion, destroying his helmet and damaging the elevator in the process. In addition to his temperament, Ren was known for his lack of patience, particularly in meetings with members of High Command such as General Hux.
At first, Ren sought to regain his master's approval which he lost as a result of his failure at Starkiller Base, in spite of how Snoke's criticism angered him. By then, his emotions were more churned up than ever before, as observed by Snoke, due to his patricidal actions. He had believed that his father's death would complete his journey to the dark side; instead, it worsened the conflict within him as Ren continued to feel the pull to the light side of the Force. Despite the effect that Han's death had on Ren, the dark warrior justified his father's death as a stepping stone in his destiny. Even so, the conflict within Ren filled him with doubt and uncertainty when presented with two choices: to either kill his father or return home with him. Ultimately, he killed Han out of a desperate need to free himself from his emotional attachments.
The first time Ren met Rey, he was puzzled by the strange connection he felt with the scavenger from Jakku. He was further surprised by Rey's ability to access Ren's mind while he probed hers, allowing her to see his thoughts as well as his conflicts and doubts. According to Snoke, Rey's connection with the Force was not the cause of Ren's inability to successfully probe her mind—it was the compassion he felt for her that got in the way. Ren was in denial for he could not fathom how he could feel anything other than hate for an enemy of the First Order. Nevertheless, he offered to make Rey his apprentice after gauging her raw strength in the Force. Even after she defeated him, Ren was preoccupied by what he sensed from her; that their destinies were somehow intertwined. From that point forward, much of Ren's churning emotions were about Rey.
His emotional state became even more intense as their Force-bond grew stronger; to Rey's surprise, Ren no longer bothered trying to hide his pain and misery from her. He allowed Rey to confide in him and reassured her that she was not alone. Later, as Rey lay at the mercy of Snoke, all of Ren's doubts gave way to a newfound sense of purpose and determination—he knew what he had to do. Instead of executing Rey as his master commanded, Ren resolved to kill Snoke and take his place with Rey at his side. Despite knowing that Rey was a woman of no significant background, Ren reassured her that she still meant something to him. He envisioned himself and Rey ruling together as the architects of a new galactic order, but her refusal caused Ren to feel betrayed and he vowed to destroy Rey along with everyone else who opposed him. However, when Rey blocked him as soon as the Force reconnected them, Ren was left feeling anything but victorious in spite of how he overthrew his master, all but destroyed his mother's movement and struck down Luke Skywalker.
Ben Solo was a human male who stood at 1.89 meters and weighed 89 kilograms. He had black hair, brown eyes, and light skin. As Kylo Ren, he often kept his face covered with a mask modeled on the battle gear of the Knights of Ren. His mask projected and amplified his voice in a deeper way, and his robes were a remnant of his training with the Supreme Leader and became singed from many battles. These elements combined to make Ren an intimidating presence as he boldly stepped onto the battlefield, where he sometimes arrived after victory was secured, yet he had no fear of battle. He boldly strode into battle, confident in his powers and his purpose. As a child, Solo's eyes appeared ancient to his father. From Han's perspective, it was as though his son had been waiting for a millennium just to be born.
Powers and abilities
- "The mighty Kylo Ren. When I found you, I saw what all masters live to see: raw, untamed power. And beyond that, something truly special—The potential of your bloodline. A new Vader."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
The heir to the Skywalker bloodline, Ben Solo was filled with immense raw, untamed power that frightened his uncle, Luke Skywalker and attracted the attention of Snoke. The Supreme Leader recognized the young Solo as a Jedi of potentially limitless power and, therefore, conspired to bring that power into his service at the expense of the resurgent Jedi Order. After becoming Kylo Ren, Skywalker's fallen apprentice was tasked with destroying any remnants of the Jedi, including his own uncle, whose attempt to restore the Jedi Order was thwarted when Ren betrayed him and the other Jedi students. Ren wanted to be as powerful as Darth Vader, who began the elimination of the Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars, but was afraid he would not be as strong as the Sith Lord once was. Though not yet at the heights of his grandfather's or his uncle's power, Ren's abilities still gave him powerful abilities with the Force and in combat.
The dark side that flowed through him made him a nearly unstoppable force, and he was exceptionally skilled in telekinetic attacks and defenses. He notably used this to send Rey flying against a tree and to pull Dopheld Mitaka by the neck to his hand, as well as to hold him up with one hand while still pulling them with the Force. When defending himself from Skywalker the night his master came close to murdering him, Ren was able to telekinetically collapse an entire hut on Luke while keeping it from harming him and clashing blades with Skywalker at the same time. He was proficient enough to use telekinetic halts in combat, which notably allowed him to freeze the motion of a target, allowing him to immobilize and restrain people and even to hold a blaster bolt midair for over a minute. He was also able to manipulate the movements of living beings, which allowed him to force Rey to point her blaster at the floor as he simultaneously froze her in place.
Ren also excelled in interrogation, as he could telepathically invade the minds of his prisoners and psychologically torture them into revealing withheld information. His abilities also allowed him to render opponents unconscious without harming them, as he did to Rey on Takodana, causing her to fall asleep with a wave of his hand so he could capture her without resistance.
Ren, who pulled from the teachings of the light and the dark to hone his power, possessed superb skills in lightsaber combat. His destruction of Skywalker's new generation of Jedi earned him the nickname of "Jedi Killer" amongst the First Order ranks, and his skills with a lightsaber were what ultimately prevented the art of lightsaber combat from returning to prominence as he eliminated the remnants of the Jedi. His own skills at constructing a lightsaber were limited, however; the design and crude components of his unstable weapon reflected a lack of experience at constructing the ancient weapon.
Ren displayed a remarkable tolerance for pain and durability, as he could survive a long ranged blast from Chewbacca's bowcaster. Although he clearly sustained severe injury, he only briefly doubled over in pain, despite the weapon being able to kill armored stormtroopers instantly on impact. He could also cut ahead of Rey and FN-2187 in this state, demonstrating remarkable speed. Even after being injured, Ren still proved very formidable, displaying great prowess in an acrobatic and offensive form of lightsaber combat in his duel against FN-2187, a former stormtrooper with specialized training, fairly quickly besting him, although not before he got cut in the shoulder. He even utilized his wound to further hone his power in the dark side by punching himself directly on the wound, hard enough to spurt out blood. Despite his skill with a lightsaber, although he did have the upper hand initially, the imbalance caused by Han Solo's murder caused him to be defeated by Rey—whose own life as a scavenger on Jakku was spent honing her survival skills—who was fueled by anger and raw strength during her confrontation with the injured dark knight. Nevertheless, Luke Skywalker regarded Ren as a strong adversary who was far more powerful than Rey.
Although Snoke was capable of probing his apprentice's mind, Ren used this to his advantage by tricking his master into believing that he intended to kill Rey when, in fact, his actual target was Snoke himself. Afterward, Ren defeated the Elite Praetorian Guard—warriors trained to kill Force-sensitives—through a combination of his lightsaber skills, Force abilities and unarmed combat, as well as with the help of Rey. Although they were separated from each other during the duel, Ren successfully defended himself against four guards while Rey held off the remaining two. Despite being outnumbered and surrounded, he single-handedly killed three guards on his own and the last with Rey's assistance. During the fight, he displayed proficiency in Jar'Kai, using a dead guard's vibro-voulge as an improvised weapon in conjunction with his lightsaber.
Ren was also an excellent pilot, having inherited the piloting skills of both his grandfather and father, Anakin Skywalker and Han Solo, respectively. Utilizing his personal TIE/vn space superiority fighter, Ren led the First Order's initial attack on the Resistance fleet. He was able to evade the Raddus' defenses and destroy the vessel's starfighter hangar, owing to his own talents as a pilot.
Behind the scenes
Creation and development
- "I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there's never been a character quite like the one that Adam [Driver] plays. I think you're going to see something that's brand new to the saga… He's full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we're very out there and demonstrative, everybody's roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are."
- ―The Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, on Kylo Ren
On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, and announced that they would be making the long-awaited Star Wars sequel trilogy, beginning with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015. In the months prior, as Lucasfilm co-chair (and eventual president) Kathleen Kennedy began the work to produce the new slate of films, it became clear to the creative team that the story could not just rely on characters from the previous films but would have to introduce new characters to carry the franchise forward.
Since George Lucas' earliest versions of the film's story, a son of Han Solo and Leia Organa struggling with the dark side of the Force was always in the mix. In some of these versions, the son's name was "Skyler" and he was corrupted to the dark side by Darth Talon, a character originally created for the Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Legacy comic book series. Talon's role was then morphed into that of the "Jedi Killer", the initial name of the character who evolved into Kylo Ren, which was used throughout the film's pre-production before the director and co-writer J.J. Abrams and his team settled on a name for the character. The character's design went through a number of iterations before the final design was approved on March 11, 2014. One design made him look similar to Darth Vader. According to concept artist Christian Alzmann, the idea behind the similarity was that Darth Vader, as a Lord of the Sith, was not a "one-off" look. Instead, "he has a specific title and a specific look that goes with that title. Even though the mask was helping him breathe, there was still a certain look to it." Concept artist Glyn Dillon, who designed the final look of the character, said that the design of the Jedi Killer 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".
Additional design concepts showed the Jedi Killer as someone who ate matter from stars. He would be in a meditation chamber, where energies from a sun could come into the room and he would consume whatever power was within it. Another piece of art showed him with a more robotic look, holding the mask of Darth Vader; at one point, the mask of Darth Vader was a central element to the film, before becoming part of the shrine that Kylo Ren had in the final story. One rejected piece of concept art showed the Jedi Killer with a red and black mask with a circular pattern in the center. This design later inspired the appearance of the Guavian security soldiers, the cybernetically enhanced security soldiers of the Guavian Death Gang.
Other designs the crew worked on included a fortress for the Jedi Killer. Concept artist Doug Chiang took "iconic shapes that we know from Star Wars" but put "different material on them—in this case turning them into concrete instead of that slick painted metal." The crew also considered giving the Jedi Killer his own droid, such as a torture droid or something else that looked ominous. The idea of the Jedi Killer having an interrogation droid ultimately made it into the film, with Kylo Ren using interrogation droids and other torture techniques to break his prisoners.
The final design was meant to be memorable, much like Darth Vader's mask—upon which Ren's look was intentionally based. Costumer designer Michael Kaplan said that Abrams wanted the look to be memorable for kids, and that Abrams loved the final design when it was presented. In developing the character, original screenwriter Michael Arndt, whose screenwriting duties were taken over by Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan when Arndt departed the project, the character's backstory came about because the writers needed a rationale for the heroes of the original trilogy to have separated after the events of the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Abrams wanted Episode VII, which came to be named The Force Awakens, to tap into parental fears of a child gone wrong through Kylo Ren. He also wanted the film to tell the story of someone who was still becoming a villain, saying that the only reason why Ren had "any hope of being a worthy successor" to the iconic Darth Vader was because he kills Han Solo. "There's nothing I could think of that is more hideous than patricide" Abrams said, "especially when it comes to Han Solo". At Rian Johnson's request, the position of the character's facial scar was moved slightly for The Last Jedi.
Ren's parentage was initially to have been revealed earlier in The Force Awakens, when Ren speaks to Darth Vader's helmet. Ren calling Vader his grandfather would have been the reveal, and the scene was written to take place shortly after Finn and Dameron escaped from the Finalizer. Ren would have blamed himself for not having done anything about Finn's change of heart regarding the First Order, and he would have sought the counsel of his grandfather for guidance. Eventually, the film's editors, Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon, felt that the revelation came too early and it was a waste of a good moment. Instead of its original placement, they moved the scene later in the film to foreshadow Han Solo's death.
Kylo Ren shares some similarities with Jacen Solo, the son of Leia Organa Solo and Han Solo in the now non-canonical Star Wars Legends storyline. Jacen, the twin brother of Jaina Solo Fel, was a Jedi Knight who ultimately turned to the dark side of the Force and became the Sith Lord Darth Caedus. It was Jacen's hope to lead the Galactic Alliance in bringing order to the galaxy after the horrors of the Yuuzhan Vong War. He killed his aunt Mara Jade Skywalker, and committed atrocities across the galaxy before he was finally killed by his sister. Ren also has an incredibly similar name to that of Kybo Ren, a space pirate from the Legends animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Additionally, Kylo Ren's helmet resembles the mask of Revan, a Dark Lord of the Sith who first appeared in the 2003 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Casting and portrayal
- "When they think of their actions as morally justified, it makes them dangerous and unpredictable. There's no level they won't go to to accomplish what they're after. I never thought of the character as an evil person."
- ―Adam Driver on Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren was portrayed by Adam Driver in The Force Awakens, a role he reprised in the 2017 sequel Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. Abrams originally saw other actors for the role, including Eddie Redmayne, who had been cast in other films by casting director Nina Gold, but all of them lost out to Driver. Driver didn't need to audition for the role, however, and instead had a meet and greet with Abrams where the director wanted to get a look at the actor. Just as Abrams had to consider whether or not to cast Driver, the actor had to decide whether he wanted to take the part at all. Abrams described Driver has having a "wonderful ferocity that was perfect for this character."
Driver does not see Ren as a villain, a stance he took in order to get into the head of the character and portray him as well as possible. Rather, Driver sees him as a religious fanatic who sees his actions as morally justified. This makes Ren more dangerous and unpredictable for the actor, as there is no level that Ren will not go to in order to accomplish his objectives. Getting into Ren's head was one part of Driver's method-acting approach. On set, Driver often stayed in character, keeping his helmet on to do so. Co-star John Boyega, who plays Finn, recalled that acting with Driver was intense because Driver wanted to forget he was in Star Wars and take the role as seriously as any other role he had ever played. The process of getting into Ren's costume provided an extra motivation for the actor; Driver said that by the time he was in the costume and ready to shoot, the "cumbersome and difficult" process left him feeling "so pissed by the time we were ready to start shooting that I felt totally ready."
In previous roles, Driver did not watch his performance because he preferred to not see himself on screen. He comes from a theater background, where actors never saw their own performances, and always hated noticing mistakes that he could not correct. He made an exception for The Force Awakens, however, and watched the film in a private screening with just his co-stars Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher, who played Rey and Leia Organa respectively. He felt comfortable sitting through the film and watching it with them because of how much time and effort he and his co-stars put into the film.
Besides his standard actor Adam Driver, he also had two voice actors in Star Wars: Battlefront II, one for while he wore the mask, and the other for when he had the mask removed. The former was voiced by Matthew Wood, who previously voiced General Grievous in various Star Wars media, while the latter was voiced by Roger Craig Smith.
For the film's soundtrack, composer John Williams wrote a theme for Kylo Ren that first appears in the track "Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village." It is reprised throughout the film, including in "Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle." In composing the theme, Williams approached it as an extension of Darth Vader and "The Imperial March," without it being too similar. He wanted the theme to convey Ren's great and evil power and strength, as well as the threat he posed. These elements came together to create a theme that could be instantly accessible to the audience.
- "Hi. I'm Matt. I'm a radar technician."
- ―Kylo Ren as "Matt" in Saturday Night Live's "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base" sketch
Kylo Ren was well received by critics upon the release of The Force Awakens. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called him "gorgeously cruel, spiteful, and capricious," remarking positively on his "petulant temper tantrums" that set him apart from Darth Vader. Terri Schwartz of IGN praised Driver's performance and said that it "adds great depth to a character who could have come off as one-dimensional." Comparing him favorably to Darth Vader, Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast said that Ren was a "living battleground between darkness and light," which made "him a far more resonant and familiar portrayal of that struggle than we've ever seen in Star Wars," making him an interesting villain. While Kyle Buchanan of Vulture.com said he was underwhelmed by Ren's true appearance under the mask, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said that, despite the "bald-faced attempt" to draw similarities to Darth Vader, "Driver, masked and unmasked, gives [Ren] hypnotic and haunting contours." Leon also praised the fact that beneath the intimidating mask of Kylo Ren was nothing more than "a normal, vulnerable young man" with a mind "clouded by fear, hate, and anger." Driver was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Force Awakens.
In popular culture
On January 17, 2016, Driver hosted the popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and filmed a sketch called "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base." Parodying the show Undercover Boss, Kylo Ren disguises himself as a radar technician named Matt and mingles with the crew of Starkiller Base to learn more about what it is like to work on the base. Throughout the sketch, in which he becomes friends with a Lieutenant Colonel named Zack (Taran Killam), whose son he killed months earlier, Ren displays his fiery temper on numerous occasions, particularly when crew members criticized Ren without knowing who they were speaking to. In the end, Ren says that he feels he understands the crew of Starkiller Base better and that he is ready to show everyone a brand new Kylo Ren—as Zack's lifeless body sits in the background.
In the skit, "Matt" comments to a group of stormtroopers that a friend told him that he saw Kylo Ren in the shower and that Ren "had an eight-pack" and was "shredded." These lines proved a source of retroactive amusement when The Last Jedi featured a scene in which Ren appears to Rey shirtless and sporting a heavily muscled chest. However, director Rian Johnson stated that the scene was not merely gratuitous, but was intended to establish that through their Force bond, Rey could actually see his body and not simply hear his voice or see just his face and eyes.
Kylo Ren was confirmed to appear in the upcoming attraction Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in one of several promotional trading cards for the ride that were handed out during the December 16, 2017 "Galactic Nights" event. The card in question, called "RESISTANCE RECRUITS FACE KYLO REN'S INTERROGATION", showed a Resistance soldier being lifted telekinetically by the Knight of Ren.
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Jedi Training - Trials of the Temple
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Poe to the Rescue"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Notes and references
Kylo Ren on Wikipedia