‘Stranger Things’ Director Retcons ‘Star Wars’ Sequel Trilogy, Kylo Ren To Return

in Entertainment, Star Wars

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren unmasked

Credit: Lucasfilm

When it comes to Disney’s treatment of Lucasfilm, it seems like you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks, with the director of an upcoming Star Wars film teasing the resurrection of yet another legacy character and continuing a troubling trend for George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Credit: Lucasfilm

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‘Star Wars’ Sequel Trilogy Drama, Explained

When the Walt Disney Company first purchased Lucasfilm and its beloved IPs from creator George Lucas in 2012, hopes were high, though some had their doubts. Under Disney’s guidance, Star Wars would have virtually unrestricted access to the resources and creative talents of one of the largest media conglomerates in the world — something the franchise sorely needed after it had somewhat ebbed following the conclusion of the Prequel Trilogy with Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005.

However, Disney’s first attempt to bring Star Wars back to the big screen ended in disaster thanks to the ever-divisive Sequel Trilogy, which initially kicked off with a bang with director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015).

(L-R) Rose, Jannah, Kylo Ren, Rey, Chewbacca, Finn, Poe
Credit: Star Wars

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Featuring a brand new cast led by Daisy Ridley’s scavenger-turned-Jedi, Rey, John Boyega’s rogue Stormtrooper, Finn, and Oscar Isaac’s charming Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron, The Force Awakens was met with warm reception from audiences and felt like a nostalgia-ridden homage to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). It also proved wildly successful for Disney, grossing over $2 billion at the box office worldwide.

But if The Force Awakens played it safe, director Rian Johnson’s Star WarsEpisode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) was downright experimental, actively working to undo everything Abrams set up in the first installment. Many accused the movie of disrespecting legacy characters like Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, who, in the story, lives out his days in self-exile on the distant planet of Ahch-To. 

star wars the last jedi luke skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

Seemingly throwing away his positive, hopeful outlook and years of Jedi training, Johnson’s version of Luke is nothing short of a cowardly old man committed to dying alone, wallowing in regret and living out his remaining days as a hermit, despite the galaxy’s pleas for help during the rise of the First Order.

Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and the late Carrie Fisher didn’t fare much better. Han meets his untimely end after his son stabs him with his lightsaber at the end of The Force Awakens, a move which many fans criticized, and General Organa has some questionable space flight-related Force abilities that led many to wonder if Johnson had ever watched a Star Wars movie before the cameras started rolling.

han solo (left) and kylo ren (right)
Credit: Lucasfilm

It’s important to note that from the get-go, the Sequel Trilogy never lacked in talent; rather, its jumbled storyline and unearned character arcs resulted in a messy and disjoined saga that tarnished the franchise’s legacy forever, which can likely be chalked up to Disney flip-flopping directors halfway through — depending on how you look at it.

Fans Rally Behind Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren

While the Sequel Trilogy has its staunch defenders, it’s widely agreed upon in the Star Wars fanbase that, at the very least, The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) are a stain on the legacy of Star Wars and a direct assault on the Original Trilogy. However, despite being almost universally considered the most maligned trilogy in all of Star Wars, fans often cite one highlight: Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Credit: Lucasfilm

Formerly Ben Solo, Kylo is the son of Han and Leia, who fell to the Dark Side of the Force while studying at his uncle Luke’s Jedi Academy. As the leader of the maniacal First Order, Kylo oversees all missions alongside Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and seeks to destroy the New Republic, the Resistance, and the legacy of the Jedi Order.

Kylo Ren shares an unusual Force bond with Rey, and even though he turns back to the Light Side to help her destroy Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), thus redeeming himself as his grandfather did in Star Wars: Episode VI (1983), it’s not enough to save him from his inevitable demise.

Rey and Kylo Ren Lightsaber duel Star Wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

While character redemption arcs like Kylo’s are hardly a new phenomenon in the Star Wars universe, Driver’s portrayal of the calculating, emotionally complex antagonist was widely applauded by fans, with the Oscar-nominated actor getting out of his Star Wars experience relatively unscathed — aside from some hilarious shirtless Kylo Ren (AKA Ben Swolo) memes.

Disney Looks to the Future With Post-Sequel Trilogy Era

Since 2019, it’s been business per usual as Disney continues to attempt to salvage the reputation of Star Wars with buzzy Disney+ projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, The Book of Boba Fett, Andor, and most recently, Ahsoka, for better or worse.

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano in her own solo series
Credit: Lucasfilm

Although the House of Mouse certainly isn’t asking people to forget the Sequel Trilogy, it is playing into fans’ desires to see more content from the Prequel era, including the Disney+ Tales of the Jedi anthology series and Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse,” with the live-action spinoff series, The Mandalorian, being widely credited with renewing interest in the dying franchise.

A crucial part of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s efforts to expand the IP involves bringing it back to theaters, as a new Star Wars movie hasn’t premiered since 2019. To remedy this, the controversial executive announced during April’s Star Wars Celebration Europe that not one, but three films were in the works, including Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” crossover event, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Rey movie, and Indiana Jones director James Mangold’s Dawn of the Jedi movie.

Kathleen Kennedy at an earlier Star Wars Celebration. Credit: Lucasfilm
Credit: Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm has yet to announce the release windows for each of these Star Wars films, though the studio is already giving the green light to other creative endeavors, including Taika Waititi’s mysterious Star Wars movie and, more recently, a project helmed by Deadpool 3 (2024) director Shawn Levy, which, if the rumors are true, might see the return of a familiar face.

‘Star Wars’ Director Hints at Kylo Ren’s Comeback

Speaking with Variety in a recent interview, Levy dodged a question about the return of Kylo Ren in his upcoming Star Wars movie after he was asked if his film could be a prequel to The Force Awakens, thus allowing Driver to return to the franchise. 

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in 'Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens' (2015)
Credit: Lucasfilm

The filmmaker made sure to avoid spoiling anything about the story, although he did admit that he considers Driver a “buddy” and is a “huge fan of Kylo Ren:”

Your words, not mine! As you know Adam is a buddy, and I’ve always been a huge fan of Kylo Ren. But no comment.

It wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Levy bringing back such a popular character for a prequel film, which could follow the early days of a young Ben Solo, perhaps training under his uncle’s guidance at the Jedi Academy. And with Disney trusting the director with a buzzy Marvel movie like the Deadpool threequel, it seems only natural that the studio would want him to hop franchises at one point or another.

Kylo Ren and Rey having a lightsaber battle against the throne room guards in The Last Jedi
Credit: Lucasfilms

It’s also important to note that Levy and Driver have a bit of a shared history, having previously worked together on the Tina Fey-fronted drama-comedy This is Where I Leave You (2014). If Driver enjoyed working under Levy’s direction, it could incentivize him to make his Star Wars comeback.

Adam Driver Addresses ‘Star Wars’ Return

But what about Adam Driver? Well, the actor has already addressed whether he would return to the galaxy far, far away in a 2021 interview with Unilad, where he revealed he’s “not against” a Star Wars reappearance as long as he’s “working with great filmmakers:”

No, I’m totally not against it. For me, it’s a filmmaker’s medium, so my only thing is working with great filmmakers. Whatever the size… it’s never been interesting to me, to an extent. There’s interesting things about working on both. I always just follow people I’d be interested in working with, and whether I’d be right for the part – things like that. No, definitely not averse.

(L-R) Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver Richard E. Grant in 'Star Wars: Episode IX - Rise of Skywalker' (2019)
Credit: Lucasfilm

Previous reports have backed up fans’ suspicions of a Kylo Ren-related project as well. In 2020, sources claimed Lucasfilm was developing a project featuring Ben Solo, with the best guess being, you guessed it, a Force Awakens prequel. However, this was years before Levy began talks with Lucasfilm, meaning the project could have been shelved since then.

With there being plenty of evidence for Driver’s Star Wars return — which won’t come as a first, considering Daisy Ridley and, potentially, John Boyega are reprising their roles in the coming years — it seems like we could be seeing more of Kylo in the not-so-distant future.

Characters from Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

Fans would likely be on board with Driver’s Star Wars comeback, though it might roll some eyes to see Disney and Lucasfilm rehashing yet another deceased character for a prequel story. And if the studio decides to, somehow, resurrect the same version of Kylo last seen in The Rise of Skywalker, similar to Palpatine’s highly-debated survival post-Return of the Jedi, it would almost certainly be met with backlash.

Still, Hayden Christensen’s recent appearance in the Ahsoka show, in which he reprised his role as Anakin Skywalker and his Dark Side alter-ego, Darth Vader, was celebrated by fans, proving that Star Wars can successfully reboot legacy characters for new projects, so long as they’re handled with care.

If Levy wants to team back up with Driver, there’s no doubt Lucasfilm would be on board. But only time will tell if the Kylo Ren actor is willing to step back into the Star Wars sandbox after the Sequel Trilogy garnered such strong reactions, most of them negative, or if he’s ready to leave his time in the franchise behind him.

What do you think of Adam Driver potentially reprising his role as Kylo Ren for Shawn Levy’s Star Wars movie? Let us know in the comments below!

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