There is a palpable sense of history in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that goes beyond nostalgia. It can be seen in the aged faces of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, but it can also be sensed in the way Rey and Finn treat the events of the original trilogy. Someone forgot to set the facts in stone. The legend was only partially printed. Reputations have faded. Heroes have been forgotten. For all of its colorful action, there’s a sense of melancholy around the edges of the film that sticks with me almost a year later.
And the character who has stuck with me the most is Kylo Ren, the Darth Vader-inspired First Order attack dog whose obsession with the late Anakin Skywalker will apparently deepen in Star Wars: Episode 8.
Is the statute of limitations on openly discussing The Force Awakens spoilers up yet? Because we’re just going to dive right into this.
As we learned in J.J. Abrams’ film, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the new identity of Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, the nephew of Luke Skywalker, and the grandson of Anakin Skywalker. While not officially a Sith, he certainly dresses like one, utilizing a black wardrobe and a voice-changing metal mask that would make even Vader himself tell him to tone it down a little. And as we saw in The Force Awakens, he has somehow managed to get his hands of Vader’s charred helmet, which was last seen melting on a funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor.
Making Star Wars (who are generally reliable when it comes to this stuff, but go ahead and grab a grain of salt anyway) reports that Kylo Ren’s Sith-alike wardrobe will get an upgrade in Rian Johnson‘s Star Wars Episode 8:
According to sources, Kylo Ren is wearing a Darth Vader cape in Star Wars: Episode VIII. The cape is said to be like the one Darth Vader wears in The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi. However, the cape does not have the same chain clasp. It is not entirely clear if this cape is one Kylo made to resemble that of his grandfather’s or if he actually procured one of Darth Vader’s capes that probably fell into the hands of collectors in the Star Wars galaxy.
For the record, here’s Kylo Ren’s original cloak:
And here’s Darth Vader’s cape as seen in The Empire Strikes Back:
While Making Star Wars cannot confirm whether or not Kylo Ren is actually wearing a piece of his grandfather’s old wardrobe, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility. After all, he did manage to acquire his helmet. And plus, Imperial artifacts are all the rage in this era of the Star Wars timeline. In the novel Star Wars: Aftermath, we are offered a quick glimpse at an underground black market for objects that were part of the Empire, with one character attempting to purchase Darth Vader’s lightsaber (or at least what he is told is Darth Vader’s lightsaber). In Star Wars: Bloodline, Senator Leia Organa has to deal with younger politicians who collect Imperial memorabilia, seeing them as fascinating historical objects rather than the tools of an evil regime.
In other words, the larger Star Wars canon has established that it’s possible to obtain objects from the original Galactic Civil War, provided that you know the right guy. And even if he is wearing a replica, it wouldn’t change the subtext that makes Kylo Ren so fascinating. Like actual, real world Star Wars fans, he’s tethered to the past, obsessed with a figure who died thirty years ago and still looms large over his world. The fact that we smile and click share whenever we see Darth Vader pop up in a car commercial only deepens our quiet ties to the doomed Ben Solo. We are Kylo Ren. And maybe, the new movies seem to suggest, we should be more like Rey.
Okay! That got dark. To recap: Kylo Ren is getting a new outfit. So is Luke Skywalker, for the record. Star Wars: Episode 8opens on December 15, 2017.