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Star Wars Confirms Why Rey Beat Kylo Ren In Force Awakens
The Rise of Skywalker novelization provides clarification for why Rey was able to beat Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, a controversial plot point.

[Image: Force-Awakens-Kylo-Ren-Chewbacca.jpg]

The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization officially clears up why Rey was able to beat Kylo Ren during their lightsaber duel on Starkiller base. At the time of The Force Awakens' release in 2015, some viewers took issue with the fact that Rey (a scavenger who had received no Jedi training up to that point) as able to best Kylo Ren (descendant of the legendary Skywalker bloodline and Luke Skywalker's former apprentice) in combat. This was at the peak of the "Rey is a Mary Sue" discourse, as The Force Awakens drew criticism for how Rey was portrayed. But even then, audiences pointed to evidence within the film that illustrated why Rey could win the duel.

Rey and Kylo's fight comes late in the third act, after Kylo had murdered Han Solo and been shot by a vengeful Chewbacca. That combination meant Kylo was physically weakened and emotionally compromised when he dueled Rey, meaning he was far from full strength. Because of that, some fans did not have any problems with what transpired in The Force Awakens. And now, nearly five years after the film debuted, Lucasfilm has gone ahead and definitively put the matter to rest.

The Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson includes an extra scene where Kylo Ren interrogates an imprisoned Chewie (this was seen in leaked Rise of Skywalker concept art). The beginning of the passage reveals Kylo blames his Force Awakens injury for his humiliating loss:

Quote:"I have not forgotten that you shot me," Kylo said. That wound had resulted in a defeat at Rey's hands. Had he been in top fighting form, the scavenger never would have gotten the best of him.

[Image: Chewbacca-upset-in-Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens.jpg]

It is worth pointing out this section of the novel is told from Kylo's perspective, meaning that in his mind (an important distinction) he would have bested Rey at Starkiller had he not been hurt. Still, it's nevertheless interesting the book even touches on this subject, as if the story group felt it was important to address that old Force Awakens complaint. Again, this can all be inferred in the movie. The Force Awakens sets up Chewie's bowcaster as an extremely powerful weapon (one that sends stormtroopers flying backwards on impact) and calls attention to Kylo's abdominal wound during the duel. He's in obvious pain and bleeding as he fights Rey. An argument can be made it wasn't entirely necessary for the Rise of Skywalker novelization to include this bit of clarity, but it validates what some fans have been saying all along. The book indicates Kylo would have won in The Force Awakens under different circumstances.
That concept art exists of Kylo and Chewbacca's confrontation indicates this scene was at one point seriously under consideration for the movie. It'd be fascinating to know why it was removed at some point, as it's one of the highlights of the novelization's additional material and would have been a compelling character moment for Kylo Ren. As he uses the Force to parse through Chewie's mind, Kylo comes across several of the Wookiee's memories - some of which involve a young Ben Solo. He sees himself as a child playing with Chewie, learning how to fly speeders and shoot blasters. The end result fills Kylo with a feeling of "nausea," tapping into his conflicted emotional state. Despite performing actions that seemingly cemented his place in the darkness (killing Han, turning on Snoke), Kylo was never able to fully get ride of the light. If this scene was in the movie, it might have made Ben Solo's redemption a little more impactful.

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