The prequels are notorious among Star Wars fans. Love them or hate them, you can't deny that they made some major changes to the canon, not least the introduction of a biological explanation for the mystical Force. And with the announcement that there would be yet another Star Wars film in the form of JJ Abrams' [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158), many fans feared that we would be getting a return of the prequels' complicated plots and overused CGI.
But Abrams seems keen to distance himself from prequel infamy. His showreel at SDCC boasted a renewed focus on practical effects, and he's only too quick to assure us that he personally ignored the prequels when writing Star Wars 7. Production designer Darren Gilford stressed Abrams' motivations in writing.
"JJ's mandate from day one was authenticity and being as true to the original trilogy as possible. JJ wanted to reconnect with how the original films were made."
Yet, as much as we want to forget the prequels ever existed, there are plenty of plot points that are now canon, and may still affect the outcome of events in the new trilogy.
Why Kylo Ren Isn't A Sith
The secret's out! Kylo Ren, though he wields a red lightsaber (made it himself, fanboy) and takes style tips from Darth Vadar, ISN'T a Sith! In a tantalising teaser from their upcoming cover piece on Star Wars 7, Empire Magazine revealed Abrams' assurances that Kylo Ren is far from Sith material.
"[Kylo Ren] works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force."
So Kylo Ren isn't a Sith... but he is working for the Dark Side of the Force? As any fan of the Expanded Universe will tell you, the Dark Side is far from limited to the Sith master/apprentice duo. Back in its heydey, there were plenty of evil underlings to do the Sith Lord's dirty work. And it seems that even with a lack of Sith leadership, the Dark Side is still strong in Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens.
But why doesn't Kylo Ren just train to wield the Force and re-instate a Sith dynasty? The answer may be more annoying than you think...
He Just Doesn't Have The Midi-Chlorians
As frustrating as these microscopic creatures are, they may hold the key to Kylo Ren's secrets. So sit down kids, cos I'm gonna tell you the tale of how George Lucas managed to quantify an infinitely unknowable spiritual Force.
Just in case you've forgotten (or repressed the memories), midi-chlorians are intelligent lifeforms that live in human cells. They have the power to communicate with the Force, and so whenever someone uses the Force, they're really using midi-chlorians as a conduit.
"Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you'll hear them speaking to you." - Qui-Gon Jinn
Although this was an attempt to put the science into this sci fi film, the existence of midi-chlorians really just raises more issues.
Like: why do these microbial life forms have the power to communicate with the Force and not humans? Wouldn't it make more sense just to say that humans can communicate with the Force and cut out the middle man? Why do some people have more than others? What's the difference between your midi-chlorian count and being Force Sensitive? If it's linked to magic and prophecy then why do we even need a biological explanation to begin with??
Eh, whatever. It's canon now and there's nothing we can do.
Kylo Ren's Secret Shame
And like it or not, this might be the reason Kylo Ren isn't a Sith: he doesn't have the midi-chlorians, and so cannot communicate with the Force. At least he still has a sweet lightsaber!
But wait! Didn't we already see Kylo Ren use the Force in one of the trailers? Uh.... maybe. He stretches his hand out towards the screen, in a very Force-commanding manner, but we don't see what happens. So if he IS Force Sensitive, then why wouldn't he become a Sith like his idol Darth Vadar?
The answer probably lies in the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke, as well as the Knights of Ren. But we'll have to wait until the film is released to find out! And if midi-chlorians are the reason behind Kylo Ren's inability to be a Sith, maybe that'll just be an Easter egg, and we won't have to hear anyone laboriously explain them...