Kylo Ren Backstory

Ben Solo from The Rise of Skywalker and Kylo Ren from The Last Jedi

Though the sequel Star Wars films are hotly debated by fans, one of the characters many find engaging is Kylo Ren. His character harkens back to Jacen Solo of the now non-canonical Legends series, and his design is very similar to the fan-favorite Sith lord, Darth Revan. The Force Awakens paints Kylo as a young, strange Sith lord who hero worships the fallen grandfather he never met, and who can barely master his own temper.

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As the trilogy continues and Kylo interacts with Rey more, the other half of his dyad in the Force, more is unearthed about his character. His extreme emotions and trajectory start to make sense, especially with the release of the comic, The Rise of Kylo Ren, which unpacks Ben Solo’s early life and Snoke’s insidious influence on it.



10 Ben Solo Was Raised By Nanny Robots

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It’s difficult for anyone to recover after a life of chaos and war; Han and Leia were no different. The novel Skywalker: A Family At War gives some elucidating details to their son’s early life. Leia understandably had many political demands; she and her husband leaned on others, droids in particular, to raise their son.

Ben Solo showed a strength in the Force and extreme emotions from a young age. While Han and Leia were right to conclude that ensuring a safer galaxy for their son would benefit him and the following generation, they weren’t quite sure how to connect with their son on a deeper, personal level.

9 Snoke Was In Ben Solo’s Mind

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Supreme Leader Snoke smiles in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ben Solo and the Solo family never knew a true moment of peace, even after the war. Snoke latched onto Solo since he was a child, infiltrating his mind, fostering mistrust in his family and the Jedi. Ben’s strength with the Force trapped him as Snoke seized on the opportunity to replicate what Palpatine did with Anakin.

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Where Palpatine spilled poison in Anakin’s ear about saving loved ones from death, The Rise of Kylo Ren details how Snoke preyed on young Ben’s fear of abandonment. Ben states that both the dark and the light claimed him the moment he was born, that he never felt like he had a moment of agency.

8 Ben Didn’t Want To Blow Up Luke’s Temple

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ben Solo waking up the glow of Luke Skywalker's lightsaber

The canon backstory comic Rise of Kylo Ren adds some important nuance to Ben destroying Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Temple. After Ben defended himself against Luke, he used the Force to pull the roof down on his Master.

Afterward, Ben stood outside the Temple, distraught after Luke’s would-be assassination attempt. Of course, Snoke continued to whisper in his mind. Ben’s eyes glowed red, and he summoned a lightning storm which struck the Temple. Ben was instantly horrified, crying out that he never wanted it to happen.

7 Adam Driver Asked Whether Ben Had Kissed Someone Before

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kylo Ren and Rey in the elevator in The Last Jedi

While filming The Last Jedi, Adam Driver saw fit to ask Rian Johnson whether his character had ever kissed a girl before. Johnson recounted the exchange in an LA Times article, and said yes, Ben probably had while at the Jedi camp.

Rewatching TLJ bearing in mind Driver’s question about his character definitely adds an interesting lens to the long looks he gives Rey. Kylo is curious about, and even possessive of, Rey in TFA. And though they’re still on opposite sides, TLJ brings a new kind of closeness to their interactions as they share their common feelings of loss and loneliness.

6 Rey Felt When Ben Fell To The Dark Side

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kylo Ren reads Rey's mind with the Force

Rey and Ben lived very different lives. Rey had to survive on her own as an orphan on an austere planet, while Ben lived among family. But both bore the weight of their lineage. Rey was a “nobody,” with no place in the Skywalker saga, waiting on a family that would never come for her.

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Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a boy she never met felt abandoned by everyone he knew, as Snoke tugged his puppet strings through the Force. Though they were light-years apart, The Rise of Kylo Ren shows Rey feeling a coldness in the Force. She feels it just as Ben Solo’s fall into the dark side is complete, and he becomes Kylo Ren.

5 He Lays His Helmet In The Ashes Of His Enemies

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kylo Ren's helmet laid in the ashes of his enemies

Kylo Ren’s Sith Lord style is impeccable. Like his uncle Luke with his Chanel boots, Kylo understands that personal style matters. His helmet doesn’t assist his breathing, as Darth Vader’s did, but rather helps him cut an austere, intimidating figure. The first time he takes off his helmet is when he meets his dyad, Rey.

When Kylo lays his helmet down in the films, it seems to be in a pile of dust. According to J.J. Abrams in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the dust isn’t just for aesthetics – Kylo rests his helmet in the ashes of his fallen foes.

4 Ben Had A Calligraphy Set

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Luke Skywalker minds the sacred texts in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ben Solo was an introverted child and as a student at the Jedi camp, he mostly kept to himself. The Last Jedi visual dictionary notes that Ben Solo kept a calligraphy set in his youth.

It’s hard to reconcile the image of the tempestuous Sith Lord smashing his mask and parts of his ship into tiny pieces with the student with enough patience to learn calligraphy in his spare time. Perhaps if things had gone differently for Ben, his thoughtful nature would have made him the sort of philosophical Jedi who would pen his own sacred Jedi texts.

3 Kylo’s Lightsaber Is Unstable

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kylo Ren holding his lightsaber in Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Kylo’s red crossguarded lightsaber is right up there with Darth Maul’s as one of the more recognizable dark side lightsabers in Star Wars. The crossguard sparks like scarlet fire and the saber’s beam flickers, reflecting its unstable quality.

A crossguarded lightsaber with two vents isn’t unfamiliar in the SW verse, but Kylo is the first film main character to wield the old style. According to the TFA visual dictionary, Kylo’s lightsaber is unstable because a kyber crystal must be “bled” so that it can turn dark side-red, and when Kylo bled his, it cracked the crystal. Rather poetic, considering its wielder.

2 Kylo’s Haunting Lineage Influences His Motives With Rey

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kylo Ren offering his hand to Rey in the throne room of The Last Jedi

Kylo struggles to reconcile the Skywalker legacy within himself. He idolizes his grandfather, yet wants the past to die, literally and figuratively. Between scheming politicians and misunderstood prophecies, the Skywalker line suffers so much tragedy.

By the events of TLJ, Kylo wants Rey to “let go,” to exit out of such a stor – as he wishes he could, in a way.

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If he can’t reconcile the legacy, he wants to burn it to the ground. Rian Johnson envisioned Kylo offering his hand to Rey as Mr. Darcy’s first botched marriage proposal in Pride and Prejudice. Both Kylo and Darcy woefully misunderstand the way a legacy and expectations should influence their present actions, and they pay for it dearly.

1 Ben Killed The Leader Of The Knights Of Ren After His Best Friend Was Assassinated

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rey and Kylo Ren begin a lightsaber duel in Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker

Ben Solo was a promising Jedi who outmatched many of his peers. He also struggled to express himself, perhaps partly because of his natural Byronic, brooding personality, perhaps because of Snoke’s whisperings. There was one person, though, who managed to draw him into meaningful conversation and trust.

Fellow Jedi student Tai observed that Ben kept himself locked away. When Ben left the destroyed Temple, Tai followed. Tai found Ben and nearly had Ben convinced that he could come back to the light, that a path goes both ways, that he could devote the rest of his life to helping people to try to balance the scales – until the Leader of the Knights of Ren assassinated Tai right in front of Ben.

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