Kylo Ren is among the most enigmatic Star Wars figures, with varied characterization, a murky past, and a hand reaching out toward the dark side. While Anakin was roped into hatred and anger, the angst-ridden Ben Solo sought it out.
That’s partly why he was one of the more intriguing baddies from the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Whether you think of him as the whiny, entitled villain from The Last Jedi or are more attuned to the sympathetic version from The Rise of Skywalker, Star Wars villains don’t get more emo. Here are Kylo’s powers, backstory, and more explained.
Kylo Ren explained
Kylo Ren was the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo. He turned to the dark side after feeling betrayed by Luke Skywalker before eventually returning to the light.
When we met Kylo, he was working under Snoke to further the First Order’s reach. He was vengeful, irritable, and trying his damnest to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Darth Vader.
His personality was defined by his desire to feel at home in the dark side, which, unlike other dark Star Wars characters, was not exactly calling out to him. He had to grow his ties to it and wanted to prove he belonged with the Sith.
In The Last Jedi, Kylo and Rey grow an empathic connection, and he wavers in his support of the First Order — believing he and Rey should take over together after assassinating Snoke. She refuses because that’s a wackadoodle idea, obviously.
Ultimately, his need for revenge against Luke is a driving force in everything he does. In his youth, he felt scared and abandoned by the Jedi Master who was meant to nurture him. We’d be pissed too.
In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo’s Force dyad with Rey, as well as the loss of his mother, slowly pulled him back to the light. Eventually, he betrays the Sith and dies in the battle against Palpatine, who had somehow returned.
Kylo Ren’s backstory explained
Kylo’s given name was Ben Solo. He was raised by Han and Leia before being sent to train with Luke Skywalker, who was trying to rebuild the Jedi order.
Kylo was the most promising of the new generation of Jedi, partly because of his Skywalker family tree roots. His growing relationship with the dark side and an exceptional amount of power worried Luke, though.
One night, Luke’s growing concern about the evil rising in his nephew reached a boiling point. Believing he might become a great threat, in a moment of weakness, Luke crept up on a sleeping Ben and raised his lightsaber.
Realizing the error of this knee-jerk approach, Luke chose not to go through with the strike. But by the time his emerald-green lightsaber lowered, Ben had awoken and clocked the treachery. Before Luke could explain, Kylo used the Force to pull the walls in around Luke and escape.
A self-fulfilling prophecy, as they say: had Luke not been overcome by fear, he wouldn’t have scared Kylo into breaking away from the light. He might have done it eventually himself, but who knows…
In some ways, Kylo seems heavily inspired by the very cool Darth Caedus, who is Leia and Han’s turned son in Star Wars: Legends.
Kylo Ren’s powers and abilities explained
Kylo was skilled with a lightsaber and was also incredibly powerful with the Force, mostly using Force push and Force stasis.
Kylo was one of the most skilled apprentices in lightsaber combat — later earning the nickname “Jedi killer” — but he didn’t match Luke’s abilities.
That being said, he and Rey managed to take out Snoke’s guards in The Last Jedi, fluttering between a standard and reverse grip on his lightsaber, so he’s no slouch. A sweet detail is the shape of his blade, with the cross at the hilt resembling a sword.
More special was his raw and untamed Force sensitivity, which was tapped into by Snoke and Darth Sidious. One example of his inherent gifts was when he used his telepathic powers to interrogate Rey and Poe in the first of the new Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens.
We’ve been rewatching the Star Wars movies in order and have shot our hot takes out into the night sky in our list of Star Wars series ranked. If you’d like to know more about the Star Wars cast, we’ve got you covered there, too.