The official Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released Monday and with it has come speculation that Kylo Ren is actually Luke Skywalker in disguise. We will address the many reasons this isn’t likely Luke in another article, but for now let’s explore the mystery of Kylo Ren.
The Dark Side was featured heavily in the trailer and we were treated to a number of images of The Force Awakens’ main villain looking menacing in his Darth Vader-esque mask. But we never once see his face. This is the biggest reason theorists have jumped onto the “Luke is Kylo Ren” bandwagon but we’re not buying that idea. It makes much more sense to accept the fact that Luke, who appears to be the MacGuffin of the film that the crew of Rey, Finn, Han, and Chewbacca are on a quest to find, is in exile and still remains a Jedi committed to the Light. It also makes sense that Abrams would want to temper expectations regarding the amount of screen time Luke will be on the film. If we barely see him in the trailer we can appropriately expect him to hardly be in the film. However, we do believe that Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker share a connection, one which would unite their bloodline and create a complicated relationship that fuels Kylo Ren with a natural motivation.
Let’s start with what we know. All sources have confirmed that Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren. He is credited with the role on IMDB, he appeared with The Force Awakens cast at the San Diego Comic Con, and Annie Liebovitz took some amazing shots of him in costume for a Vanity Fair feature. His voice is featured in the new trailer and Kylo Ren’s stature fits that of Adam Driver. Plus, we see the back of the character in the final shot of the trailer, where we see Kylo Ren unmasked and sporting long, black hair. So let’s all agree for now that Adam Driver is Kylo Ren. But the question is why have we not seen the face of Kylo Ren in the trailers?
We have seen the face of every main character in The Force Awakens (even Han and Leia) save for five characters. We assume that Supreme Leader Snoke and Luke Skywalker haven’t been revealed because their appearances will be short and sweet. Plus, Luke’s appearance is going to get a ton of applause, as the fans will be waiting to see him for the entire film. Captain Phasma appears to be a Boba Fett-esque character, and it makes sense to keep her masked as the leader of the First Order’s Stormtrooper squadron. Maz Kanata is a new character and created through computer generation so it also makes sense to hide her until the film is released. This leaves us with Kylo Ren and this is where the theory begins.
Abrams has confirmed that Kylo Ren belongs to the Knights of Ren, a dark order that allegedly originated on Endor. We also know that Kylo Ren is obsessed with Darth Vader, is in possession of the Sith Lord’s destroyed and iconic mask, and that he has devoted himself to “finishing what Vader started.” What did Vader start? The Jedi Purge.
Star Wars: Rebels is an animated television show that has introduced Vader’s partnership with the Inquisitors, a class of powerful Force-wielders within the Sith Empire that were tasked with destroying Force-sensitive individuals. It seems highly unlikely that the Inquisitors will be contained within Rebels alone and we have seen their trademark red markings already on certain characters in The Force Awakens teasers and trailers, but we will, again, discuss their significance in another article. We believe that they will also be featured in Episode VII, in flashback form.
So, we assume that Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker have both spent time on Endor at some point, since the former is connected to the Knights of Ren and we know Luke was on the planet for an unspecified period of time. What if Luke took his nephew Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia Solo, on as a young Jedi apprentice but the two were attacked in an ambush by either Empire defectors or the Knights of Ren? We have seen Luke and R2-D2 near a fire in a teaser and trailer for the film, as Luke kneels in a somber fashion. This could be right after the ambush, one in which Kylo is caught in the fire and assumed to be dead. Luke would leave Endor, defeated in his quest to continue the Jedi Order and also guilt-ridden with the knowledge that he apparently got the son of his sister and close friend killed. However, the Knights of Ren (the last line of the Inquisitors) quickly comb the aftermath of the ambush and find a critically injured and maimed Kylo in the ashes of the explosion.
The Knights of Ren would then nurse him back to health, with the help of cybernetic technology. It would leave him barely recognizable. We have already seen concept art that has been credited as that of Kylo Ren holding the mask of Darth Vader. In this art Kylo Ren’s face is horrific and it matches the scene in the new trailer, where KR is hovering over the mask of Vader. So, the character is indeed played by Adam Driver, but it would be one in which Driver’s face is barely seen.
They would then raise and brainwash Kylo, who is now obsessed with finding Luke and exacting revenge for leaving him for dead. The Knights of Ren would arm him with training in The Force and also fill his head with stories of the God-like Vader and his quest to extinguish the Jedi Order. Ren would go on his own mission to find Vader’s mask and any other relic of his grandfather. His broadsaber, which he created on his own, is extremely crude. He would understandably want to gain Anakin/Luke’s lightsaber, arguably the only authentic lightsaber left in the galaxy, for his own use. If he has it when he confronts Luke, all the better. He would cut down his mentor with the blade of his grandfather, and also bask in the glory and irony that Luke was killed by his father’s, and his own, blade. For Kylo Ren, killing Luke Skywalker would be both personal and prophetic. He would truly bring balance to The Force by ensuring there are NO Sith or Jedi in the galaxy.
The disfigured character would be ashamed of his mangled visage but would gain strength in emulating the presence and appearance of his grandfather. He would take pieces of Vader’s mask to create one of his own, a helmet that pays tribute to the Sith Lord and the new family, the Knights of Ren, that he has sworn to honor.
But, thanks to the new trailer, we now know that Kylo Ren is unmasked in the battle with Finn so we know that we will get to see who Kylo Ren truly is. We believe that he will possibly first reveal himself to Rey, his sister and the one person he truly cares for. This would offer a moment that actually allows us to have empathy for the character, who could have become a Jedi had circumstances allowed it. He will then show himself to Han, his father who he also blames for abandoning him, and then we will finally see him unmasked as he faces off against Finn.
Finn, who is separated from Rey and Han, would be out in the woods as he takes off with Anakin/Luke’s precious lightsaber, which we already know has a huge amount of importance in this film (We assume it either connects to another object to create a superweapon or is a key that unlocks an ancient tomb. Again, these are theories for a different article.). What matters in this moment is that Kylo Ren hunts Finn down in the woods, this time with his hood draped over his face. When he finally finds Finn he will take off his outer tunic and hood to show his terrifying face, which is one of the many reasons Finn looks so scared and unsettled in the trailer as he prepares to throw down with Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren is indeed a new character played by Adam Driver, one willing to give his life to exact revenge on Luke Skywalker. Abrams is saving the reveal of Ren’s true look, which is why we have only seen him masked or from behind. The mystery has led to a surprising amount of speculation, which we feel is misguided, but the payoff when we finally see Kylo Ren’s face will be one that is both shocking, spine-chilling, and satisfactory in its importance to the story and saga.