The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren isn’t a Sith, and the origins of the First Order

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Empire Magazine continues to dribble out information from their cover story on The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams confirms the subtext that Kylo Ren is not a Sith, and that he serves Supreme Leader Snoke, “who is a powerful figure on the dark side of the Force.” (So likely also not a Sith.)

The most interesting part, however, is contextualizing the origins of the First Order:

“That all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again?’” Abrams reveals. “What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?”

The issue is supposedly on newsstands Thursday.

What we’ve learned about The Force Awakens from Entertainment Weekly (so far)

tfa-ewThis morning we learned that not only is Kylo Ren the cover boy for Entertainment Weekly’s Fall Movie Preview, but a couple of things about the character himself. And, amazingly? That’s not all. We’ll get to Kylo in a few, but first, the generalities…

→ How did Kathleen Kennedy get Abrams on the hook to direct Episode VII? She asked him, “Who is Luke Skywalker?’” And for a movie that’s shied away from talking about Luke much at all, his presence is certainly felt in EW’s cover story. How have things changed for the classic trio, and how haven’t they? We don’t get many details, but you can certainly read a lot into Lawrence Kasdan’s comments:

“I thought, ‘Wow, okay, these people have lived — they’re in a different place in their lives, Han and Leia and so on. They’ve lived the same 30 years I have. What would that be like? How would you see things differently?’” Kasdan says. “And I was trying to figure out how I saw things differently, and one of the surprises is that you don’t learn all that much. You haven’t become much wiser than you were, and things are not clearer to you, and the world is just as confusing as it always was — and that’s a kind of lovely thing to get to write about again. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom; it just brings experience.”

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→ As widely assumed, the lightsaber we see in the second trailer is indeed the one Luke had and lost at Cloud City.

→ There have been rumors that Abrams might return to close out the trilogy, but he shoots those down pretty conclusively: “No, I’m not going to direct Episode IX, as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies.”

→ We get a look at several new pictures – some that we’ve seen fuzzy from the conventions (General Hux!) but a couple that are brand new.

→ There’s also a story on the origins of some of the character names – fitting, since Entertainment Weekly was the first to reveal many of them back in December. We get nothing for Finn and Rey – of course their lack of last names are “completely intentional” – though we do get a name for the new alien (played by Kiran Shah) and his ride: Teedo and his luggabeast. Fear not: Poe Dameron, BB-8, General Hux, and Captain Phasma get more details.

Kylo Ren on Jakku

→ Now, finally, let’s unpack a few details about our villain. He may or may not be the Darth Vader fanboy we’ve been speculating about, but he is “well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film,” J.J. Abrams told EW. The helmet’s origins will be explained in the film, but it’s left unclear if the nod to Vader is intentional on the part of the character or just the design team. Abrams also confirmed something that’s been long-suspected: The broadsaber was his own creation. It’s “something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” Abrams said.

→ Here’s another key quote from Abrams: “As you see in the best of storytelling, and no doubt the best of Star Wars, these are tales in which an everyperson has to step up. And I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn’t as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader,” Abrams says. “And I think that there are two sides to the Force. Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here.”

→ A few more hints, this time from Lawrence Kasdan: “I’ve written four Star Wars movies now, and there’s never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays. I think you’re going to see something that’s brand new to the saga.” How so?

He’s full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we’re very out there and demonstrative, everybody’s roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are.

→ Our biggest tangible clue? We now know a little something about the name… The “Ren” part comes from a group called “the Knights of Ren.” Is Kylo his title? How many more Rens are there? (For our spoiler readers: Seven, perhaps?)

Tomorrow, EW will bust out Han Solo… Stay tuned!