Even before [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) was released, Kylo Ren shot to the giddy heights of iconic villainy. With a fantastic character design, drawing just enough from Darth Vader to make fans nostalgic, Kylo Ren promised to be one of the most interesting parts of Star Wars 7. And boy, did he deliver.
There's still a huge amount of mystery surrounding the character, but with the official The Force Awakens script and novelisation both released, we're finally getting some answers to our questions. Crucially, it seems as though Kylo Ren may have joined the Dark Side far, far younger than we'd assumed...
Spoiler warning: this article uses plot points from the movie and the novel, so there's some story here which might be revealed in Episode 8. Read on at your own risk!
Kylo Ren is impulsive, reckless, and terrifyingly dedicated to his cause. His obsession with Darth Vader makes him the perfect personification of radicalism, but there's a lot of heart to his character too. The revelation that he's actually Han and Leia's son was one of the most heartwrenching moments of the film. And although we didn't get a lot of background information about how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, we might finally have some answers...
Ben Solo Was Taken As A Child
Or... he was persuaded by Snoke to betray Luke Skywalker at a very young age. When this happened isn't clear at all in The Force Awakens, but personally I'd assumed Ben Solo was in his late teens or early twenties when he became Kylo Ren.
But as it turns out, Ben Solo may have been little more than a child when he betrayed Luke Skywalker. Check out this extract from the official script...
Doesn't that just hit ya right in the feels? Let's just move on and try not to think about what happens just after this moment...
The fact that Ben Solo has been away for such a long time not only makes Han Solo's death all the more tragic, it also gives us some clues about how Supreme Leader Snoke coerced Kylo Ren in the first place. It's most important to remember that as a child, Ben would have been very impressionable, which could explain his radical dedication now. In fact, Adam Driver revealed to Empire that Kylo Ren doesn't even see himself as evil...
"When they think their actions are 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."
This offers us a brief glimpse into Kylo Ren's psyche and begs the question: if he's not following Darth Vader's path merely to be evil, then why did he defect to the Dark Side? Well, the novelisation might give us some hints about this.
Leia Saw This Coming
In one particularly tragic conversation between General Leia and Han Solo in The Force Awakens novel, Leia reveals that actually, she knew that Snoke was watching their son.
I mean, this is huge. Leia Organa was aware not only of who Snoke was, but that he wanted to turn Ben Solo to the Dark Side. And yet, for all her foresight she couldn't prevent it from happening. Here's what she confesses to Han in the novel...
"Snoke knew our child would be strong with the Force, that he was born with equal potential for good or evil. I was hoping that I was wrong, that it wasn’t true. I hoped I could sway him, turn him away from the dark side, without having to involve you. I was afraid that your reactions would only drive him farther to the dark side. I thought I could shield him from Snoke’s influence and you from what was happening. It's clear now that I was wrong."
This really adds a note of tragedy to Leia's story: after losing her entire planet to Darth Vader, she loses her son to Snoke. And now she's lost Han Solo.
So anyway, back to Kylo Ren. Now we know that Snoke was lurking in the background for years, slowly persuading Ben Solo to the Dark Side. How did he do this? How did the two come into contact? And how many years ago did Kylo Ren destroy the Jedi temple? Ah, so many unanswered questions. Star Wars Episode 8 really can't come soon enough. But until then there's one more hint to dissect from the script...
Kylo Ren's All Broken Up About Killing His Dad
To be honest, this actually surprised me, but it makes a lot of sense. Kylo Ren says he's conflicted, "torn apart" between the Dark Side and the Light.
Obviously, he choses to continue on a dark path by killing Han Solo, but the script reveals something very interesting about the consequences of this choice.
The novel stresses Kylo Ren's guilt too...
"Following through on the act ought to have made him stronger, a part of him believed. Instead, he found himself weakened."
This actually makes a lot of sense, considering what we saw happen afterwards: in the battle with Finn and Rey, Kylo Ren is shown striking his own wound. Some fans have theorised this is to make him feel pain which, as we all know, leads to hate, which leads to the Dark Side.
So what does this all mean? Well, for one thing, Star Wars 8 has a lot of explaining to do! It's going to be fantastic to finally discover the mystery of Kylo Ren's motivation, what drove him to betray his family and turn to the Dark Side. Until then, all we can do is piece together the hints dropped by the film and other sources. And so far, they certainly tell a compelling story.
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