In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son Kylo Ren stronger while he’s on the dark side of the Force, or the light side?
In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren completes his redemption arc to become Ben Solo once again, but is he more powerful on the dark side or the light? The Rise of Skywalker is the conclusion to the epic Skywalker saga, bringing balance back to the Force. Despite Kylo’s dark side actions, many fans hoped Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son could be turned to the light. While on the dark side, Kylo Ren murders Han, indirectly causes Luke Skywalker’s death, and betrays Rey. But when Kylo returns to the light side, he destroys the Knights of Ren and revives Rey, after she gives her life to defeat Emperor Palpatine.
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From the moment he marches off his shuttle in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is an intimidating villain and proves his power by suspending blaster bolts in midair, freezing enemies in place, and hacking opponents to pieces. In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke tells Rey how Ben Solo showed a frightening amount of raw power during his training. Kylo Ren has much potential in the Force, but he isn’t actually a Sith, while Ben never completed his Jedi training – so which version is more powerful?
Throughout the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Kylo Ren employs telekinesis, mind probe, and Force stasis. (Surprisingly, he doesn’t use Force choke as much as Darth Vader.) Kylo uses telekinesis to intimidate his subordinates and enemies. Mind probe is perhaps his most terrifying ability, which he uses to easily take information from Poe Dameron’s mind. But when Kylo tries to probe Rey, she taps into the Force and is able to turn the tables, showing that even a fledgling light side user can overcome the dark side, but also connecting the pair together in ways that would later payoff in The Rise of Skywalker. Once Ben turns to the light side, he seemingly connects more to the Force. On Exegol, he shoots a Sovereign Protector dead-on without looking. He also performs Force heal on Rey, since been confirmed as a power belonging to a Force dyad (two individuals who the Force bonds together as one), which The Rise of Skywalker‘s reveals them to be. This illustrates he is finally allowing the Force to flow through him, rather than trying to control it as Kylo did.
As well as Force powers, there is also Kylo Ren’s lightsaber form, which is developed from the Knights of Ren’s mentality and Darth Vader’s technique. His fighting is driven by anger, but Kylo’s greatest skill is working with Rey as a team. In The Last Jedi’s fight against Snoke’s Elite Praetorian guards, Rey and Kylo are well-synchronized, passing Luke’s lightsaber back and forth. This shows how in tune they are with each other. Kylo also uses leverage and coordination as he fights off four of the guards at once. Still, at times his haphazard swings feel tantrum-like, and his lightsaber skills don’t match Obi-Wan Kenobi’s or Anakin Skywalker’s. But after Ben returns to the light side, he has agility like never before. On Exegol, his lightsaber handling is reminiscent of Anakin’s in the Star Wars prequels. Ben deflects attacks from the Knights of Ren, overcoming them much more easily than the guards in The Last Jedi, despite their Force-sensitivity and greater numbers.
Kylo Ren is a powerful Force user who channels his anger to overpower opponents. But when he returns to the light side, his lightsaber and Force skills are more focused, leaning on the Force instead. As Yoda teaches in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, those on the light side must avoid anger. Once Kylo Ren returns to the Jedi way, and fully embraces his connection to Rey, he is free from the rage keeping him captive. This choice makes Ben Solo more powerful, despite what the dark side claims. As Obi-Wan says in the Star Wars Rebels episode “Twin Suns,”: “If you define yourself by your power to take life…to dominate, to possess, then you have nothing.”
This means that the dark side’s promise of power through hatred, tyranny, and corruption is empty. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells Luke the dark side is not stronger. The light side helps Ben depend on the Force for strength, making him more powerful. Though Ben Solo is only on the light side a short time, he is gives his life for Rey, allowing the Jedi to continue. His ending in The Rise of Skywalker ties in with the theme illustrated by Rey’s power over the darkness in The Force Awakens: a tiny spark of light shines out all the darkness.
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