- "Alas, you're no Vader. You're just a child in a mask."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren's helmet was a combat helmet worn by Kylo Ren, master of the Knights of Ren and the dark side apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke. Patterned on the battle gear of the Knights of Ren, the helmet concealed Ren's face, hiding his former identity as the Jedi apprentice Ben Solo. It was black with a silver inlay decorating the visor frame. In addition, it contained a vocoder that modulated his voice. After its reconstruction, the helmet featured a luminous red alchemical lattice of the Sarrassian iron that was used to weld the shards together. As a result, Ren's reforged mask was far stronger than it once was.
Ren donned the helmet after renouncing his family and Jedi heritage to join the Knights of Ren, a group of masked marauders from the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. The helmet marked Ren's status in their ranks, while also serving to inspire fear in the tradition of his grandfather, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, who also wore a mask. Despite its purpose, the helmet was seen by Snoke and General Armitage Hux as Ren's way of hiding his lineage as the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, by mimicking Vader's appearance. Solo confronted Ren, shortly before the Battle of Starkiller Base. He told him to remove his mask, wishing to look upon the face of his son. Although Ren obliged Solo's request, he ultimately killed his father in an attempt to extinguish the light side of the Force that persisted within him. However, the act of patricide only left Ren more conflicted than ever, and his master denounced him as a "child in mask," unworthy to follow in Vader's legacy. Angered by this rebuke from Snoke, Ren destroyed his helmet and redoubled his efforts to submit himself entirely to the power of the dark side.
Following his accession as the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, Ren scavenged the fragments of his shattered helmet. The Sith alchemist Albrekh welded the shards together with Sarrassian iron, resulting in a far stronger version of Ren's helmet. Rey, the last of the Jedi Order, saw through the mask's symbolism, sensing that Ren remained haunted by his patricidal act. Ren did not bring the helmet with him when he confronted Rey in the Death Star ruins on Kef Bir, and Rey sensed that he would never wear the mask in front of her again. Shortly thereafter, Ben Solo discarded the trappings of Kylo Ren, having returned to the light through Rey's compassion and his parents' forgiveness.
- "Kylo Ren is no Sith Lord, but his helmet was designed to emulate that of his ancestor Lord Vader. Unlike Vader's helm, Ren's is merely symbolic, serving no functional purpose."
- ―Darth Sidious
Kylo Ren's helmet was a battered, face-concealing black combat helmet with a silver inlay that radiated from the eyes as a symbol of power. Modeled on the battle gear worn by the Knights of Ren, the helmet served to hide Ren's former identity as Ben Solo—the nephew and fallen apprentice of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. In addition, its aesthetic design and integrated voice-projecting vocabulator enhanced Ren's imposing appearance. The helmet was designed to look sinister; as a Knight of Ren, Ren was part of an enclave of dark side warriors who wore masks to induce fear in their prey.
Ren's helmet was designed to emulate that of his grandfather, the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Its lack of function was noted by Vader's Sith Master, Darth Sidious, who stated that Ren's helmet was purely symbolic of his family heritage, whereas Vader's helmet incorporated life support technology. Like the helmet worn by Vader, Ren's helmet had a built-in vocoder that modulated his voice, causing his voice to sound more deep and intimidating. The face mask was connected to the helmet via articulated arms driven by servomotors; a hinged mechanism sealed the mask to the helmet. Although he wore the helmet to make himself appear more intimidating, on rare occasions he would remove it via the servomotors to stare down his opponents with unrestrained malice in his eyes.
Ren's use of the helmet was openly questioned by several individuals who knew him personally, such as his father Han Solo and his master, Supreme Leader Snoke. Solo thought the helmet was unnecessary, stating his son did not need it, and Snoke called it a "ridiculous thing." Ren's rival, General Armitage Hux, opined that the helmet was superfluous compared to the one worn by Vader, who could not breathe without it. Hux further posited that Ren used the helmet to hide his resemblance to Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, his famous parents who served in the Alliance to Restore the Republic that defeated the Galactic Empire.
All that remained of the original helmet was a "twisted hunk of black and silver." It had been shattered by Ren into many pieces, some of which were warped beyond recognition. The damage was such that Ren doubted Albrekh's skills as a Sith alchemist could rebuild a helmet that he had reduced to shards.
- "Through the work of a skilled Sith alchemist, the shattered helmet was repaired using a latticework of red Sarrassian iron. It became stronger than ever. A pity the same cannot be said of the child who wears it."
- ―Darth Sidious
Kylo Ren's reforged helmet was strengthened through Sith alchemy. Sarrassian iron was painstakingly applied between the shards of the shattered helmet, creating a bright red alchemical web that resembled crimson lightning or scars. The resulting helmet was heavier and smelled of molten iron, but was stronger than the previous version. The helmet retained its ability to alter Ren's voice, giving it a "distant and mechanical" tone.
Ren admired the rebuilt and redesigned version of his helmet, which he likened to a "thing of jagged beauty." It retained its original shape and appearance, save for the red fractures that formed a web of red iron over it. Despite the added weight, smell, and lack of access to fresh air, considered his reforged helmet an example of perfection. It symbolized not only the breaking and re-forming of his identity, but also the Knights and his grandfather. Sidious was aware of Ren's decision to rebuild his helmet and the reasons for it; while he also observed the improved condition of the new helmet, he lamented that the same could not be said of its wearer, whose conflict prevented him from realizing his full potential in the dark side of the Force.
As before, the helmet was a symbol of his status as a Knight of Ren. In addition, it symbolized his leadership over the Knights as well as the First Order, having taken the title of Supreme Leader after his master's death. Ren noted how the helmet looked more intimidating than before, with visible red cracks over the silver inlay and the mouth plate. First Order stormtroopers and officers flinched away when their masked leader was nearby, and Ren could sense General Hux's unease about his appearance through the Force.
A child in a mask
- "I said leave it! You cannot hide behind a mask here. You cannot pretend to be Vader in this place."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
During the rise of the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke began training the fallen Jedi Ben Solo in the ways of the dark side of the Force. Adopting the persona of Kylo Ren, Snoke's new apprentice took to regularly wearing a battle helmet that concealed his former identity as he sought to follow in the example of his grandfather, Darth Vader, who also wore a mask during his time as a Dark Lord of the Sith. Yet his efforts to emulate Vader in appearance did not meet with his master's approval. Snoke especially disdained the mask and how Ren used it to hide his inner conflict, which he wished his apprentice would overcome. At one point, Snoke brought Ren to Dagobah and ordered him to leave the mask on the shuttle. When Ren hesitated to comply, the Supreme Leader backhanded him across the face, causing Ren to drop the helmet, which Snoke pointed to while telling him that he had to stop pretending to be like Vader.
Hiding behind a mask
- "Vader wore his mask because he couldn't breathe without it. But you…you just dress-up to hide the faces of your rebel scum parents—"
- ―Armitage Hux, to Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren and General Armitage Hux were stranded together on a planet after surviving an explosion on their Xi-class light shuttle. An argument ensued between the two rivals over which of them was the intended target of an assassination plot. Relying on Snoke's patronage as a deterrent to Ren's wrath, Hux voiced his personal thoughts on Ren's helmet, revealing his belief that the dark side warrior wore it as a disguise due to his Rebel heritage. He also accused Ren of playing "dress-up" to imitate Vader in appearance. Ren responded by threatening to kill Hux with his lightsaber, but the general reminded the dark apprentice of Snoke's support for his career, forcing Ren to spare Hux's life.
The local norwoods attacked Ren and Hux as they argued, causing the general to run for his life while Ren stood his ground against the creatures. During the fight, Ren was hit by one of the norwoods; the attack caught Ren by surprise, unmasking and rendering him unconscious. Bylsma, an Alderaan guard who was stranded on the planet during the Galactic Civil War, approached the unconscious Ren, revealing himself as the norwoods' handler. Hux, having deduced the Alderaanian soldier's origins from his uniform, saw an opportunity to gain Bylsma's trust by using Ren's heritage as an advantage. He revealed to the old soldier that Ren was in fact Ben Solo, the son of Princess Leia Organa and adoptive grandson of Senator Bail Prestor Organa. Bylsma saw the resemblance between Ren and his mother while inspecting the unconscious warrior's unmasked face. Bylsma's loyalty to the royal House of Organa compelled him to help Ren, whom Hux referred to as a "son of Alderaan."
A son's face
- "Take off that mask. You don't need it."
"What do you think you'll see if I do?"
"The face of my son."
- ―Han Solo and Kylo Ren
In the year 34 ABY, Ren captured a Jakku scavenger named Rey during the hunt for Luke Skywalker, and brought her to Starkiller Base for interrogation. He removed his helmet after Rey called him "a creature in a mask," revealing the face of Ben Solo behind the mask's theatrics. The scavenger was surprised to discover that Ren was, in fact, a young human male. Ren donned his helmet once more after Rey escaped from her cell, but removed it again at the request of his father, Han Solo, who confronted his son in the hope of turning him back to the light side of the Force. Despite Ren's initial cooperation, dropping the helmet and offering his lightsaber to Solo, he ultimately killed his father in order to ascend as a dark side apprentice.
- "Take that ridiculous thing off."
- ―Snoke, ordering Kylo Ren to remove his helmet
Committing patricide did not strengthen Ren's connection to the dark side, however. According to Snoke, the act weakened him and contributed to his defeat in a lightsaber duel with Rey, an inexperienced girl who was unfamiliar with the art of lightsaber combat. Ren continued to wear his helmet until he reported to Snoke's throne room on the Supremacy. Snoke reproached Ren after initially praising him, having once believed that his apprentice had the potential of becoming a worthy heir of Darth Vader because of the raw and untamed power that Ren inherited through his bloodline. Ren complied with Snoke's order to remove his helmet, his scarred face betraying emotional turmoil that he felt as a result of killing his father.
Snoke, having long known of his apprentice's goal to fulfill Vader's legacy, regarded the helmet as a "ridiculous" object worn by a "child" who possessed more petulance than strength. To Ren's master, he was too much like his father Han Solo, and was nothing more than a "child in a mask" and an unworthy successor to Vader. Unbeknownst to Ren, it was through Snoke that Darth Sidious forced him to confront his past in order to overcome his insecurities, which was seen by Sidious as the obstacle to Ren's progress as a wielder of the dark side.
Ren struggled to control his anger as he left the throne room. However, once he was alone in a turbolift, cradling the helmet in his hands, Ren was overcome with unrestrained fury. He smashed his mask against the wall; the Force grew increasingly powerful within him, giving Ren the strength to break the mask until all that remained were twisted fragments of silver and black metal. Seething with rage, he endeavored to regain his status by proving his worth to Snoke. Unbeknownst to Ren, Snoke had stoked his apprentice's anger as part of his efforts to draw Rey into a trap by taking advantage of the Force-bond between her and Ren.
Broken and reforged
- "I have your word?"
"It will be stronger than before."
- ―Kylo Ren and Albrekh
Following the assassination of Snoke, the self-appointed Supreme Leader Kylo Ren retrieved the shattered remnants of his helmet from the wreckage of the Supremacy. Despite killing his master in Sith tradition and seizing control of the First Order, Ren ultimately redonned his mask, believing that he could now wear it on his own terms. By then, Ren had grown accustomed to being seen without his helmet; prior to its reconstruction, he observed that people were more afraid of him when they saw his scarred face, which, in his view, reflected his sense of cruelty and the reality of his power. Nevertheless, the helmet marked his status not only as a member of the Knights of Ren, but also as their master. With the First Order under his control, its rebuilt version would serve as a symbol of his reign as the new Supreme Leader.
Ren's helmet was reconstructed in 35 ABY, during the last days of the First Order-Resistance War. Until then, he had ruled over the First Order without either the Knights of Ren or his helmet. However, having formed a pact with the reborn Emperor, Darth Sidious, Ren summoned the Knights to his side, knowing that he would need their help with tracking the Jedi apprentice Rey. Through the Force, Ren sensed the confusion in his Knights when they saw their leader without his helmet. Nevertheless, the Knights confirmed that the results of his trial remained in effect and therefore acknowledged Ren as their rightful leader, notwithstanding his unmasked appearance which Ren intended to rectify.
The shattered fragments of his helmet were given to Albrekh, a Symeong metalsmith with close ties to the Knights of Ren. At first, Ren doubted that even Albrekh's skills could repair the damage to his mask, but his concerns were allayed as he witnessed the Symeong's work. Using his knowledge of Sith alchemy and access to a Sith forge, Albrekh painstakingly reconnected the helmet's pieces, using Sarrassian iron to weld them together.
Ren was entranced by the process of his helmet's reconstruction. He was fascinated by all forms of power, including extreme competence which he found Albrekh to possess. Albrekh had promised that the new helmet would be far stronger than the original version; Ren inspected the helmet upon its completion, noting the red latticework that fused its shards together, and doubted as to whether he would be able to break it again. The reforged helmet reminded him of the helm worn by Vader as well as their different reasons for covering their faces. Whereas Ren had the choice of wearing his mask or discarding it, Vader wore his out of necessity. The Knights of Ren raised their weapons in salute as their master placed his new mask over his face. In that moment, Ren resolved to fulfill his grandfather's legacy by succeeding him as the Dark Lord of the Sith.
The masked ruler
- Kylo Ren: "I sense unease about my appearance, General Hux."
- Armitage Hux: "About the mask? No, sir. Well done."
- Bellava Parnadee: "I like it."
- ―Kylo Ren, Armitage Hux, and Bellava Parnadee
Kylo Ren appeared as a helmeted figure while wearing his reforged mask. After re-donning his helmet, he returned to his flagship, the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Steadfast. Accompanied by his personal bodyguards, the Knights of Ren, the group of masked warriors, including Ren, inspired fear and respect in the Star Destroyer's crew. The Steadfast's commanding officer, Admiral Frantis Griss, awaited Ren's arrival in the detention area where an Ovissian prisoner, Boolio, was detained after being captured on the Sinta Glacier Colony. Ren did not sense any trace of fear in Boolio, unlike the stormtroopers and First Order officers he encountered upon his return to the Steadfast. Boolio defiantly looked into the Supreme Leader's masked face as Ren executed him for treason, decapitating the Ovissian with his lightsaber.
Ren took Boolio's severed head to a boardroom where the Supreme Council was in session, placing it on the conference table. General Hux focused his attention on Ren's mask to avoid looking at the alien's head. Ren sensed the general's anxiety about his appearance, but Hux denied it and commended Ren for the helmet's reconstruction. General Bellava Parnadee concurred with Hux, stating that she liked the Supreme Leader's mask.
In fact, Hux was glad that Ren wore his mask again; although as a principle he generally distrusted people who wore masks, Hux secretly disapproved of Ren's hairstyle which did not conform to the First Order's regulations on hair length. Convinced that an effective leader ruled by example, Hux felt that Ren's long hair was an "indignant assault" on his office as Supreme Leader. Hux's disapproval was such that he came to see it as a reminder of everything that he hated about Ren whom he saw lacking in discipline and military bearing. Hux vowed that if he replaced Ren as Supreme Leader, his first act would be to force his predecessor to "cut off his hair."
Haunted beneath the mask of fear
- "I see through the cracks in your mask. You're haunted. You can't stop seeing what you did to your father."
- ―Rey, to Kylo Ren
After issuing orders to the Supreme Council, Ren resumed his search for the scavenger who continued to "vex him." As Ren reconnected with her through their bond, Rey noted the new appearance of his mask, particularly the red Sarrassian iron latticework. Notwithstanding the repairs made to it, the damage that the helmet retained reminded Rey of Ren himself. She dismissed Ren's use of it as a disguise for his inability to forget his late father, Han Solo, whom he killed on Starkiller Base. Before the connection ended, Ren moved closer to Rey until he was looming over her, causing her to smell the molten iron of his mask.
The Supreme Leader confronted Rey on the desert planet Pasaana. Using the Skywalker lightsaber, the Jedi apprentice disabled Kylo Ren's TIE whisper. Though unharmed in the resulting crash of his starfighter, Ren removed his helmet to breathe in fresh air. He then pursued Rey to the planet Kijimi and, aboard his Star Destroyer, revealed their connection as a dyad in the Force as well as Rey's lineage to her grandfather Sidious. In a "gesture of vulnerability" and trust, Ren removed his helmet to show his face to Rey, including the scar that she inflicted on him. He also wanted her to believe that he no longer considered himself as Ben Solo "hiding in a mask." In his mind, he was only Kylo Ren.
Ren resumed his pursuit of Rey after she escaped from the Steadfast, rejecting his offer to take the Throne of the Sith by overthrowing her grandfather. He traveled to the ocean-covered moon known as Kef Bir in the Endor system, where he found Rey scavenging through the Death Star ruins in search of the Emperor's wayfinder. Rey noted his maskless appearance; for reasons unclear to her, she knew that Ren "would never wear the mask for her again." In the aftermath of their final duel, Ren was confronted by his last memory of Han Solo, which manifested vision through the Force. The death and forgiveness of his father, combined with his conscience and his connection to Rey, ultimately pulled Ren back to the light side as Ben Solo.
Behind the scenes
Kylo Ren's helmet was introduced in the 2015 sequel trilogy film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams. It was inspired by Kylo's insecurities, and he wore it as an intimidating factor. It was later destroyed in Rian Johnson's 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. Johnson regarded the decision to lose Ren's mask for The Last Jedi as somewhat "terrifying," as the helmet was the symbol of the movie on the packaging for merchandise of The Force Awakens and had also proven popular as a Halloween costume with children by the time The Last Jedi began filming. Despite this, and his own love of the helmet, he considered it an important aspect of the film to get inside Ren's character a little more and for viewers to be able to look into his eyes.
Though The Last Jedi film and most of its literary adaptations showed Ren destroying his helmet by smashing it against the wall of the turbolift aboard the Supremacy, the film's storybook adaptation described Ren destroying his helmet by crushing it beneath his feet.
As Ren left his helmet on the bridge in Starkiller Base after killing Han Solo, it is never explained how Ren reacquired his helmet in The Last Jedi considering Starkiller base exploded. When a fan asked Pablo Hidalgo on Twitter how Ren reacquired his helmet, Hidalgo responded, "Perhaps a loyal stormtrooper fetches it. Stuff does happen off-screen."
In an interview with SlashFilm.com, Star Wars costume designer Michael Kaplan revealed that he was very surprised with the decision to destroy Kylo Ren's helmet in The Last Jedi. He stated it took him and J.J. Abrams a while to come up with the right mask for Kylo Ren in the first film. He went on to say that to have it be the first thing to be taken away and destroyed was very disappointing.
The mask returned for the 2019 film Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, where Ren donned a repaired version with deep red lines running through it. Abrams compared the fractured mask to Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic art of repairing broken pottery by dusting the lacquer used to glue the pieces back together with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. It treats the breakage of the piece as a part of its history, instead of something to hide. The breaks in Ren's mask were meant to be a visual representation of his fractured character. Instead of hiding him as it did before, the mask tells his history, and his behavior is revealed.
In the themed area Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Kylo Ren appears as both a walkaround character in the land and as an animatronic in its flagship attraction Rise of the Resistance. In all of these instances, Ren has his helmet intact and wears it, despite the events depicted in the land and its attractions taking place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, after its destruction but before its reconstruction.[source?] The story "Tales of Villainy: Follow and Lead" from the second issue of the Star Wars Adventures series has a similar issue, depicting Ren wearing the intact helmet at around the same time period.
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Jedi Training - Trials of the Temple
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Poe to the Rescue"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
- LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
Notes and references
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas places the events of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens in 34 ABY. Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi takes place immediately after the end of The Force Awakens.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary dates the events of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker as taking place one year after the "Starkiller Incident." As Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates the Starkiller Incident to 34 ABY, it can be deduced the events of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker take place in 35 ABY.
- Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
- Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
- Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary
- Age of Resistance - General Hux 1
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: A Junior Novel
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Age of Resistance - Supreme Leader Snoke 1
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization
- The Star Wars Book
- Director J.J. Abrams Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens commentary
- The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- The Last Jedi storybook
- "Tales of Villainy: Follow and Lead"—Star Wars Adventures (2020) 2
- The comic Tales of Villainy: Follow and Lead takes place some time between Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens to 34 ABY, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary places Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker 1 year later, or 35 ABY. Therefore this comic takes place some time between these two years.