Kylo Ren backstory

As excited as we are to see new Star Wars heroes Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron in action, we’re equally intrigued by The Force Awakens‘ new crop of baddies. Like Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren, who first got the Internet buzzing when he unleashed that controversial crossguard lightsaber.

The character has been shrouded in mystery for the most part, but today we finally have the opportunity to get to know him much, much better. Director J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan have gone on record to reveal new details about the Kylo Ren backstory. Find out everything we know about the Star Wars 7 villain after the jump.

We’ve already known that Kylo Ren is the baddie with the infamous crossguard lightsaber, and that he’s part of the First Order (i.e., the new version of the Empire). Earlier photos showed him commanding snowtroopers at a secret base in some icy clime, possibly suggesting he’s someone who’s used to the cold.

However, a new EW story reveals several more key facts about this dark figure. Let’s go down the list…

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Kylo Ren is a “Vader obsessive.”

Do Kylo Ren’s impenetrable helmet and dark flowing cape remind you of another Star Wars baddie we know? That’s very much the idea. EW describes Kylo Ren as a “Vader obsessive,” despite being born years after Vader’s death.

“The movie explains the origins of the mask and where it’s from, but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask,” said Abrams. “[Ren] is well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film.”

Star Wars Force Awakens Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber is a homemade piece.

Kylo Ren’s lightsaber caused a stir among fans when it was first revealed, thanks to its unusual crossguard design. Turns out there’s a reason it doesn’t look like a standard-issue lightsaber — it isn’t one. “The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” confirmed Abrams.

Star Wars Force Awakens Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren isn’t his real name.

With so much about the character shrouded in mystery, the one thing we thought we knew for certain about Kylo Ren was that he was named “Kylo Ren.” However, Abrams revealed that’s not actually his birth name. In fact, the “Ren” part isn’t a name at all. (More on that below.)

Naturally, that raises the question of what his true name is, and what it’ll reveal about his backstory. Does he have famous parents, maybe?

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Kylo Ren belongs to a group called the Knights of Ren.

Okay, so about that “Ren” part: It’s not a name but a title, like the “Darth” in Darth Vader. Abrams explained: “He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren.” As for who the Knights of Ren are, well, that’s something else we’re just gonna have to wait to find out.

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Kylo Ren is not your typical villain. 

Or so claimed Abrams: “He is not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy.” Kasdan agreed, saying “there’s never been a character quite like” Kylo Ren in the Star Wars universe. What that actually means is unclear. Abrams described the character as “complex” and Kasdan as “full of emotion.”

But we can look forward to Kylo Ren evolving as the story unfolds. “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,” said Abrams. And while we might see the First Order as the bad guys, Kylo Ren does not. “Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here,” he said.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18.

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