Who Is 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Villain Kylo Ren? 6 Exciting Reveals From J.J. Abrams
Ever since the very first teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens dropped last November, one of the the biggest mysteries surrounding the highly-anticipated sequel has been the identity of the masked man with the three-pronged lightsaber. It was finally revealed by Annie Leibovitz's Star Wars-themed spread for Vanity Fair in June of this year that the hooded villain with the instantly-iconic weapon was named Kylo Ren, and he would be played by Girls star Adam Driver. Now, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Episode VII director J.J. Abrams has given audiences their Kylo Ren first look behind the mask of his film's main antagonist.
While nothing too spoiler-y was revealed about Kylo Ren's motivations or specific plot points, this is still an unexpected amount of information from the usually hyper-secretive filmmaker behind such twisty-turny creations as Lost and Star Trek Into Darkness. Perhaps Abrams has learned from his experience on that latter film, when he enraged fans by fervently denying for months that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing iconic Trek villain Khan, only for it to turn out that Cumberbatch was playing — shocker — iconic Trek villain Khan.
Maybe a little transparency is better than total secrecy. In that vein, here are the six most exciting scoops that Abrams dished out regarding Driver's character:
1. His Real Name Isn't Kylo Ren
It took so long for us to learn the name of the hooded figure and the actor who would be portraying him — so by far the most intriguing tidbit that Abrams revealed was that even what little we know of the film's antagonist may be false. Just like audiences eventually learned in the original trilogy that "Darth Vader" was not the character's real name — and that "Darth" wasn't even a name, but a title — the same holds true for Kylo Ren. "He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren," according to Abrams. Just who are those knights? The director isn't saying anything more on the subject, but, going by Kylo's appearance, they're probably bad news.
2. He's A Member Of The First Order
The presence of legions of Stormtroopers in the trailers for Episode VII seemed to indicate that the Empire had somehow survived its downfall... but, in fact, its emblematic iconography has simply been co-opted by a new, evil-sounding organization born from the Empire's ashes: the First Order. Is Kylo Ren a member of this organization, or is he a rogue agent fulfilling his own agenda? The answer sounds like a bit of both: he's "allied with The First Order, a remnant of the Empire that remains a fearsome threat to the galaxy and its denizens." And apparently he has enough power to command his own battalion of Stormtroopers, as seen in the photo above.
3. He's Obsessed With Darth Vader
If the design of Kylo's helmet seems familiar, that's for a good reason. "The movie explains the origins of the mask and where it’s from," Abrams promises, "but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask. [Ren] is well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film." But what exactly does Abrams mean by "what's come before?" Is Kylo simply seeking to emulate a famous villainous figure? Or is Abrams implying that Kylo is actually descended from Vader himself? Could Kylo be (gasp!) Luke Skywalker's own son?
4. He Built His Own Light Saber
Turns out Kylo is quite a craftsy fellow when he's not burning down villages and giving people death stares. His iconic weapon — distinguishable not only by its unique crossguard but also its flickering, unstable beam — is a one-of-a-kind artifact. "The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character," Abrams said.
5. He's An Emotional Guy
Anakin Skywalker's emotions got the best of him when Padme died, which is what ultimately led him to the Dark Side, and Episode VII looks to continue that theme of "emotions are bad." Abrams assures us that, "He is not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy. He is a little bit more complex than that." Co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) agrees: "I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there’s never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays. I think you’re going to see something that’s brand new to the saga. 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."
6. He's A Work In Progress
When we first met Darth Vader in A New Hope, he was already an imposing, widely-feared figurehead of the Empire. Not so with Kylo Ren, apparently. "I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn’t as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader," Abrams stated. In fact, he expects that audiences may actually be able to identify with the villain. "As you see in the best of storytelling, and no doubt the best of Star Wars, these are tales in which an everyperson has to step up," he said. "There there are two sides to the Force. Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here."
Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens will arrive in theaters from a galaxy far, far away on Dec. 18, 2015.
Images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2); Giphy.com (2)