When the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted back in April, fans were surprised to see that Kylo Ren’s helmet was back in action. The notoriously moody villain smashed the helmet to pieces in The Last Jedi, after all, seemingly taking his own advice by letting the past die. So why is it back this time around, and what’s with the red cracks?
The helmet has figured prominently in not just the trailer but in other marketing materials for the film, like the first official poster, as well as toy advertisements as seen in the first previews for Triple Force Friday. The poster even emphasizes those red cracks in the form of lightning protruding behind Kylo Ren, making it all the more noticeable. But why? In a new interview with Empire Magazine, the director of The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams, spoke out about Kylo’s reforged helmet, and confirmed a popular fan theory in the process.
Here’s his full quote:
“Having [Kylo Ren] be masked, but also fractured, is a very intentional thing. Like that classic Japanese process of taking ceramics and repairing them, and how the breaks in a way define the beauty of the piece as much as the original itself. As fractured as Ren is, the mask becomes a visual representation of that. There’s something about this that tells his history. His mask doesn’t ultimately hide him and his behavior is revealed.”
That Japanese concept that Abrams is referencing is something called “Kintsugi,” or “Kintsukuroi,” which is the art of repairing broken pottery by dusting the lacquer used to glue the pieces back together in gold or silver. The idea is to treat the breakage of the piece as a part of its history, instead of something to hide.
Fans have been talking about Kintsugi since we first glimpsed that broken helmet with the red glue in the trailer. In fact, Caitlin Plesher from the Star Wars podcast Skytalkers wrote an entire piece about the method and how it could relate to Kylo Ren’s redemption back in April. “Above all else, Kylo’s mask is a metaphor for there still being value in Kylo—Ben Solo—as a person,” Plesher writes. “A character that is continuously drawn to the light, a figure who is literally cracked, and now the mask that he used to hide his face for so long has become a ‘diagram of the points of impact’ in Kylo’s life and a symbol for his own transformative repair.”
So what does this mean for Episode IX? Well, for one, it seems that Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio are working East Asian concepts into the film. The recent D23 footage for The Rise of Skywalker seemed to confirm another fan theory about the “red string of fate.” Together, all of these ideas seem to hint that Rey and Kylo’s connection will run deeper and Kylo will find his way towards the light.
We’ll find out for sure when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20.
Feature Image: Disney/Lucasfilm