Warning: The following post contains major SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Every saga has its hero, and every hero needs to face his/her greatest villain. In the new Star Wars trilogy, starting with The Force Awakens, that villain is Kylo Ren; ruthless commander of the First Order, a skilled tactician in the art of war, and a ferocious wielder of the Force. Aptly nicknamed “Jedi Killer” for the massacre of dozens of Jedi students, Kylo Ren was once a promising protégé of none other than Luke Skywalker, and is the son to both Han Solo and General Leia Organa. But how powerful is Kylo Ren, really? What if I told you that the man once known as Ben Solo is probably the most powerful character we’ve seen so far in any Star Wars movie. What if Kylo Ren is more powerful than even Darth Vader?
I’ve put together a list of 15 reasons why the “Jedi Killer” is a threat unlike anything the Jedi or the Rebellion has ever faced before - and he hasn’t even completed his training yet! What if, after he is taught how to hone the Force more effectively than ever before, Kylo Ren truly becomes the most dangerous adversary Luke – or any other Jedi – has ever had to face?
15 He Is Both Light And Dark
Since The Force Awakens takes place approximately 30 years after the events of The Return Of The Jedi, many events that happened during those “in between” years have yet to be explained. One question many fans have relates to the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke, and why the sinister figure has taken an interest in his protégé, Kylo Ren. While a lot of plot points were not explained in detail in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there are some pretty heavy chunks of information and backstory to be found in the film’s novelization and other peripherals.
The Force Awakens novelization explains that Kylo Ren, formally known as Ben Solo, is unique because the source of his Force energy comes from both the Light and the Dark. Because Ben was born into a family of Solos and Skywalkers, his Force sensitivity is extremely strong, which is why Luke Skywalker trained him to be a formidable Jedi. Unfortunately, much like his grandfather, Ben Solo was seduced by the lust for power and descended into the clutches of the Dark Side - forever becoming the wraith-like tyrant known as Kylo Ren. Supreme Leader Snoke knows that Kylo’s immense knowledge and practice in both Light and Dark makes him a powerful student and ally - and quite possibly the most powerful being the known universe has ever seen.
14 The Cunning Of Han Solo
It’s safe to say that the war against the Empire would have never been won had it not been for the holy trinity in Star Wars lore; Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Han Solo. Although not Force sensitive, Han Solo played a pivotal part in carrying out the plans to thwart the Emperor and his dynasty by using his incredible intellect and slick thinking. And a lil’ charm never hurt anybody, either!
While not the smooth-talking ladies’ man that his father was, Kylo Ren does possess the same cunning methodology that runs in the family. His instincts are impeccably-tuned to sniff out threats, and his quick mental reflexes always puts him one step ahead of his enemies. In fact, as cruelly ironic as it sounds, Kylo Ren’s mastery of the art of deception is probably what caught Luke Skywalker off guard when Kylo decided that he wanted to betray the Alliance, betray his family, and obliterate the future of the Jedi in one fell swoop by destroying the Jedi temple and all that his family held dear to them. It’s safe to say that while Kylo Ren may have the cunning mind of his father, he lacks the heart and the moral compass of Han Solo.
13 The Perseverance Of General Leia Organa
For better or worse, Kylo Ren’s parents consist of not one, but two extremely powerful characters in the Star Wars universe. While the so-called “dark Jedi” most definitely inherits the cunning mind of his father, Han Solo, it’s the unbreakable perseverance and stubbornness of his mother, General Leia Organa, that runs through his blood and has made him the ruthless leader of the First Order that he is today.
What this means is that Kylo Ren is a born leader, in every sense of the word. He comes from a family of independent, rebellious freedom fighters and Force-sensitive warriors. Unfortunately, the tenacity that he inherited from his mother was twisted and used for all the wrong reasons (depending on whose side you’re on, that is!). As headstrong and unfazed as General Organa can be, so can her son… the tenacious warmonger of Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order, Kylo Ren. And although it’s horrible to think about, it’s probably that perseverance - that insatiable need for victory - that allowed Kylo Ren to slay his own father in a crazed attempt to rid himself of the calling of the Light. Kylo knew that, in order to succeed, he needed to heed the siren of the Dark Side, and laid the Light within him to rest as he drove the trisaber through Han Solo’s chest.
12 The Ferocity Of Darth Vader
While the amalgamation of Han Solo’s instincts and General Leia’s willpower does make their son, Ben Solo, a force to be reckoned with, those traits are nothing compared to the dominant factor that makes the master of the Knights Of Ren who he is… and that is the dark, destructive nature of his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker – better known throughout the galaxy as the genocidal tyrant, Darth Vader. For whatever reason, the same darkness that latched itself onto Anakin and drove the once promising Jedi’s psyche into the fiery abyss of the Sith, has now found its way to Ben Solo… corrupting his heart, mind, and conscience in the process. The presence of his grandfather, despite finally turning to the Light, still looms heavy in the galaxy, and Kylo Ren is bent on finishing the work of the Empire so that Vader’s legacy can ascend to prominence once again.
But unlike Vader, the much younger Ren lacks composure and control, which makes him far more dangerous. His powers are more honed and less contained, while his ferocity is a frightening reminder of his corrupt bloodline. Draped in black and with his voice augmented in a mad attempt to replicate the old Sith Lord, Kylo Ren is a haunting reminder that the galaxy truly doesn’t know the power of the Dark Side!
11 Survived Chewbacca’s Bowcaster
You know who can survive a shot from Chewbacca’s bowcaster? Kylo Ren. You know who can’t survive a shot from Chewbacca’s bowcaster? Everybody else.
In The Force Awakens, we see Han Solo and Chewie take turns to eliminate Stormtroopers with Chewie’s handy blaster; a simple looking weapon with an admirable amount of firepower to say the least. When Kylo drives his lightsaber through the chest of his own father in a moment that had fans screaming out a Vader-esque “Nooooooo” in cinemas everywhere, Chewie’s first reaction was to take aim and (presumably) kill Kylo Ren with a single shot from his blaster. Remember, Chewie has known Kylo since the day he was born, so blasting Ren must have been just as painful as watching Han Solo killed by his own son.
But here’s the twist… Kylo Ren survived the blast. In fact, he would go on to hunt Rey and Finn in the snowy forests of Starkiller Base, before taking down Finn and only losing out to a newly Force-sensitive Rey in lightsaber combat. Fans who noticed Kylo thumping on his wounds would know that Ren did this to cause himself more pain, because it served as fuel for the darkness within. The pain amplified his Force powers and the rage helped him survive what would otherwise be deadly wounds.
10 Did What Vader Could Never Do – Destroyed His Own Flesh and Blood
Like I said earlier, the film’s novelization goes into some pretty detailed plot points as to Snoke’s thoughts on the Empire, as well as his opinions of Darth Vader. Based on the novel, Snoke admired Vader’s bloodlust, but also felt that the Sith Lord was weak and fell victim to his own sentimentality. This is why the Supreme Leader is fascinated by Kylo Ren - because he was able to do what Darth Vader never could; slay his own flesh and blood and extinguish the Light within once and for all.
Here’s that excerpt from the book:
“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgements. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.” Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.” “Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgement. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”
9 Designed His Own Lightsaber
One thing that isn’t well known about Kylo Ren is his penchant for collecting ancient artefacts. He’s a tinkerer of sorts and prefers to make with his hands what he uses – which pretty much explains his rag-like cloak and the crackling, frightening variation of a lightsaber he wields, aptly named the “trisaber”.
The design of Kylo Ren’s unusual lightsaber itself is ancient, dating back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malochor. A weapon like this has not been seen for many millennia, and was once used by the Force-wielders of a bygone age. But don’t be fooled. While the design of the weapon is ancient, its components are new and apply modern technology. What’s interesting is that the crossguards serve dual purposes; one, to protect the hands of the wielder as well as block attacks by an opponent, but more importantly they serve as vents for the saber’s energy. This brings me to the strangest part of Ren’s monstrous weapon of choice; the beams themselves. The fiery, unstable beams are a result of the saber’s source of power… a cracked Kyber Crystal! Kyber Crystals power all lightsabers, but Ren’s decision to use a cracked, unstable rock further reflects his fractured mindset. Could the Kyber Crystal have come from Vader’s lightsaber? Did Ren pluck it out of its old hilt to create the abomination that slayed all those Jedi?
8 Can Read People’s Minds
One ability that was prominently highlighted in The Force Awakens was Kylo Ren’s psychic prowess. It’s a disturbing, almost torturous process for the victim; having to helplessly feel this dark entity infiltrate their mind and extract their most personal thoughts. But then again, much like his lightsaber, Ren’s methods have always been inherently crude and aggressive. Not only can Kylo Ren read the minds of whoever he wants – especially those who aren’t Force sensitive enough to block his attempts – but his telepathy is also in-tune with others that are around him. This gives him an advantage on levels only seen in great Jedi masters like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. And while those in Darth Vader’s bandwagon might hate to hear this, Vader couldn’t exactly read minds, otherwise he would have used the tactic on Princess Leia when she was his captive.
The fact that Kylo Ren was able to master the art of mental infiltration at such as early age further proves why his Force abilities are frighteningly powerful and unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s also why Supreme Leader Snoke sensed the magnitude of potential within Ren and began his sinister plan to pluck the young Jedi from Luke Skywalker and turn him to the Dark Side.
7 Spearheaded The First Order
Running an Empire isn’t easy. In fact, it takes years of planning, decades of serving as a mole in the Senate, and the deceptive nature of the Sith to truly run a mighty Empire… and even then the whole thing could get blown to f***ing bits by a bunch of nosy Rebels.
But what Emperor Palpatine took decades upon decades to build, Kylo Ren was able to do in a fraction of the time. With arguably nothing to build upon after the fall of the Empire, a newly-named Kylo Ren had to step in and take control of the fanatical faction known as the First Order. Ren served as the wrecking ball of the Order; a walking, talking weapon who went to war with anyone who defied their rule and always came back victorious. And while the Empire took out a number of planets in its time, Ren’s Starkiller Base annihilated the Hosnian System – the administrative capital of the New Republic – in one fell sweep, sending the galaxy into chaos. With Hosnian Prime gone, the First Order will march on to conquer the remaining systems in ways the Empire never thought possible.
6 Led The Knights Of Ren To Prominence
Much like Darth Vader’s most formidable battalion of Stormtroopers - called the 501st or “Vader’s Fist” - Kylo Ren commands a small group of ruthless killers known as the Knights Of Ren. But except for a fleeting mention of the Knights Of Ren by Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse at the Knights themselves during Rey’s “Force flashback”, not much else is known about the mysterious group that aided Kylo Ren in massacring Luke Skywalker’s Jedi students. What is known, however, is that the group are a fanatical bunch that draw inspiration from dark Sith lore from thousands of years ago. And much like Kylo’s ancient lightsaber, the Knights fashion themselves with weapons and clothing that stem from millennia prior.
What is frightening is that, unlike Vader’s battalion, Kylo’s Knights are more focused and more aggressive in their methods. While Vader was infamously regarded as the “Jedi slayer” around the galaxy during his time, Ren’s Knights have somehow managed to once again destroy the last remnants of the Jedi, forever labelling themselves as Jedi killers and a merciless gang of mercenaries in the process. And it’s all thanks to Kylo Ren - the man who led his blindly-faithful group to prominence.
5 Jedi Killer
What could cause the great Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to go into hiding? What kind of monster would have to show up to cause the greatest of Jedi to exile himself and go off the grid? Cue Kylo Ren… the Jedi Killer; a name that has been whispered among every rank of the First Order, because no one except for Darth Vader himself has committed such a vile act of treason and cruelty that was Kylo’s descent to infamy. And that’s what makes him more powerful – and more dangerous – than any threat that has come before him.
Ben Solo did not grow up in chaos. He was born into a world of peace and was a child to loving parents who were also inherently good, noble and decent. He was trained by the best of the best; Luke Skywalker, the beacon of hope who toppled an Empire and brought peace to the galaxy. Ben had everything he needed to become a Jedi, a keeper of the peace, and a warrior with a steady moral compass. And yet he didn’t. No, instead Ben Solo decided, by his own account, to betray everyone that he loved and embrace the Dark Side. The seductive call of the Dark happened more naturally and more organically to Ben than even Anakin Skywalker… which is why Kylo Ren is an entirely different beast altogether.
4 Can Stop A Blast Mid-way
You’ve seen Jedi and Sith deflect blasts and gunfire with their lightsabers, but have you ever seen someone stop a blast and freeze it mid-fire, midair, by using the Force? In the opening scene of The Force Awakens, we see Kylo Ren freeze a shot by Poe Dameron midair and then release it many minutes later once Poe is taken into Ren’s ship. This act defies the known powers of Jedi and Sith alike. The ability to stop a blast midair is one thing, but to hold it there while doing something else is an act of multitasking unlike anything we’ve seen from any other character in the Star Wars cinematic universe. It showcases the mental prowess of the fallen Ben Solo, and lays to rest any doubt that he may not be as powerful as his grandfather. In fact, he may be more powerful than Darth Vader in many aspects. Not only can Kylo freeze a blast midway, but he can also use the Force to freeze people where they stand, as seen when he froze Rey when he was hunting her down.
3 He Is Guided By Supreme Leader Snoke
Who exactly is Supreme Leader Snoke? Where was this mysterious figure during the events of the original Star Wars trilogy? Did the Empire know of his existence? Where was he during the prequel trilogy? So many questions surround the true identity of the shrouded figure but one thing is for certain - he’s old enough to be an ancient entity. Is he the legendary Darth Plagueis the Wise? Is Snoke old enough to be Darth Sidious’ master? Whatever the case, Supreme Leader Snoke was powerful enough to have swayed young Ben Solo to the Dark Side. He was even influential enough to drive Kylo Ren to destroy his own father, Han Solo. No matter who Snoke is, it’s obvious that the full extent of his powers have not been displayed yet, and a portion of that dark energy is being channelled into Kylo Ren.
While the Emperor seemed more methodical and political in his approach, the methods of Snoke seem more aggressive and brutish, which is what makes him a dangerous enemy in the grand scheme of things. Whatever he’s teaching Kylo, it’s working. And who knows what other powers the Supreme Leader will impart onto his newfound protégé in the chaotic times to come?
2 Can Sense The Slightest Shift In The Force
Not only is Kylo Ren extremely attuned to the Force, he’s also sensitive enough to sense the slightest changes in the level of Dark and Light in the surrounding vicinity. For example, when Finn hesitates to join the other Stormtroopers as they are ordered to kill all the villagers in the opening scene of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren senses a shift in the Force and looks directly at Finn for a second. Ren’s Force-sensitivity is so unique that he picks up on changing mindsets, changing sentiments, and an increase in the Light side of the Force, much like Chirrut Imwe was able to do in Rogue One, when he sensed a change in Captain Andor’s demeanor.
It’s difficult to say if Supreme Leader Snoke knows of how attuned Kylo Ren is to the Force and delays his training on purpose because Snoke himself is afraid of what Kylo could be capable of if he reaches his full potential. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and Snoke knows that the Force needs to be channelled and honed methodically to be completely effective. Either way, Kylo Ren’s command of the Force is unparalleled, and only time will tell how powerful be will eventually become.
1 His Powers Come From A Much Darker Time and Place
Unlike Darth Vader and the Sith Lords of the modern era, Kylo Ren’s knowledge of the Dark Side of the Force comes from a much older place. Having studied Jedi skills as well as arcane Dark Side lore, Kylo Ren is the physical embodiment of conflict. He draws his powers from chaos and discord.
Because the Empire was no more and the supposed last two members of the Sith had perished during the Battle Of Endor, Ren and his Knights didn’t have a true source to derive their Dark Side teachings from. Hence, his knowledge of the darkness came from records from thousands of years ago… from arcane lore that applied to Sith Lords and Force-wielders from a time when the Dark Side was more crude and aggressive. What secrets did he learn from that bygone age? What powers did he discover when studying the dangerous tactics of long-forgotten Sith? And how powerful were the methods he uncovered that they engulfed him whole within a fraction of the time it took to turn Anakin Skywalker? Kylo Ren is the most powerful Sith to serve the Dark Side… but the more important question is, just how powerful is he, really?