When Maul was first brought back during The Clone Wars, I immediately thought it was such a cop-out. Bringing back another dead character because why? Can’t they think of anyone original to bring in? First, it was The Emperor in the Dark Empire comics, and then it was Boba Fett. Didn’t he die when he fell into the Sarlacc pit? Remember, this was canon at the time.
This was probably my first and only time I was legitimately disappointed with Lucasfilm. I let a lot of continuity errors slide because I love Star Wars and who’s counting right? But this was too far. That is until I let the story play out. The Maul we see in The Clone Wars was such a new, and a much more fleshed out version of what we saw in The Phantom Menace. He spoke maniacally of his hatred for Kenobi. How he’d seek out revenge. I’m not sure if Maul’s infamous return would’ve paid off if it wasn’t for the brilliant voice acting of Sam Witwer and the engaging storytelling of Dave Filoni. This iteration of Maul is the Maul we know and sympathize with now. And it’s all because George Lucas did what he does best, and took a risk no one was willing to take or even consider.
Darth Maul’s life started out as a nightmarish sketch by concept artist Ian McCaig for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace that was deemed too scary for a Star Wars movie. Maul was limited to a mere 6 minutes of screen time in Episode I, two Legends novels, Shadow Hunter (2001) and Lockdown (2014), an e-book titled Saboteur (2001), a short story titled Restraint (2011), a comic series by Dark Horse (2000), and a YA novel titled The Wrath of Darth Maul (2012). Plus various appearances in numerous other books and comics. Maul had a much more literary background than he does now. Some of this would coincide with his return to The Clone Wars. I believe that perhaps Maul is best served as a visual experience where we’re able to see his rage and obsession first hand, rather than in print where his madness is held in check by mere words. However, since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 and the re-canonization in 2014, Maul’s fate, although limited to six outlets, has become some of the best storytelling in Star Wars.
Maul’s journey begins in his eponymous comic series entitled Maul, published by Marvel in 2017. This five issue series is set pre-The Phantom Menace. Darth Maul has started his apprenticeship with Darth Sidious and is itching to begin his purge of the Jedi. Sidious, ever the schemer, denies Maul his appetite for destruction. Instead, sending Maul on a mission to eliminate a crime organization. Maul soon discovers the crime families are gathered to bid on a captured Jedi padawan. By the end of the series, Maul kills the padawan at the risk of his master’s fury. Sidious fears that a Jedi’s death will blow his cover, but is pleased that Maul’s appetite has not been satiated by the killing of one Jedi. Future Jedi are on the menu.
Maul’s next appearance canonically, is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. With little screen time, even fewer lines of dialogue, and arguably the best lightsaber duel in the saga, Maul’s face paint, and horns left the fans wanting so much more. Thanks to Ray Park martial arts expertise, he gave Maul his acrobatic fighting style. In my opinion, If it wasn’t for Park, I’m not sure Maul would’ve deserved the legacy he now has.
Maul’s next canon appearance is where his character took on a more significant role. Maul in The Clone Wars redefined his style. Who would’ve thought someone could survive being chopped in half by a lightsaber? I can only imagine Dave Filoni’s face when George told him Maul is coming back. How do you make that happen and have it not be a joke? The answer: Maul’s hatred for Kenobi and his want for revenge kept him alive all those years. Living in isolation on Lotho Minor. Maul denounces the Sith who left him to die. Takes his brother (whoa Maul has a brother now too?) Savage Opress as his apprentice and begins to put together a plan to regain his power and influence by creating gain control of the top organizations in the galaxy; The Hutts, Black Sun, The Pyke Syndicate, Death Watch, and the Nightbrothers of Dathomir.
Son of Dathomir was a four-issue comic book series published by Dark Horse in 2014 were the only comics published by Dark Horse that is part of the new canon as they were based on scripts from The Clone Wars TV series. Featuring Maul as an escapee from the clutches of his former master Darth Sidious with the help of Mother Talzin, and a very brief shaky alliance with Count Dooku, Maul escapes not to be seen again until the Siege of Mandalore in which he yet again flees, this time from former Jedi Ahsoka Tano.
Years following his escape from Mandalore, Maul makes the surprise of all surprise cameos in Solo: A Star Wars Story as the leader of the Shadow Collective, Maul appears as a hologram to Qi’ra informing her that now that Dryden Vos is dead, they will be working much more closely together. Maul then orders Qi’ra to meet Maul on Dathomir. For those that have been following Maul’s exploits to this point, know Maul has been through hell and back, and he’s not entirely done yet.
Maul makes his final canon appearance in the TV series Star Wars Rebels. No longer a Sith, Maul has dropped the title of Darth yet his search for regained power continues. Maul is found on Malachor attempting to enter a Sith Temple but realizes he cannot do it alone. Maul runs into Jedi padawan Ezra Bridger and tries to recruit the boy as his own apprentice. After another setback, Maul escapes before the arrival of the new Sith Lord, Darth Vader. Maul continues to torment Ezra until Maul lures Ezra to Tatooine and in turn reveals the location of Kenobi. The two meet in a fateful duel that will see the end of Maul’s life at the hands of his mortal enemy once again.
Maul’s character grew from over-enthusiastic Jedi killer whose sole purpose was to serve as Sidious’ attack dog. I never considered Maul a true Sith Lord, His Force power was never on great display in The Phantom Menace beyond tossing objects aside. Maul’s skill was purely offensive. A savage when it came to lightsaber ability. In KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic) terms Maul would be classified as a Sith Guardian; a master of lightsaber skills. Maul’s resurrection brought us a power-hungry revenge-filled former Sith apprentice who has realized that the only person he could rely on was himself.
Maul’s quest for power and revenge was ultimately his undoing. When looking back at Maul’s life, it’s nothing if not supremely sad and pathetic; leading from one failure to another. Seeking to please his master, yet failing. Attempting to regain his power through domination only to be subjugated once again by his former master and losing all. And lastly in attempt to gain an apprentice in Ezra Bridger, Maul loses his life in another duel with his old rival Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul’s will to live has vanished, and so has his life.
Barlow, Jeremy, and Juan Frigeri. Star Wars: Darth Maul. Marvel Worldwide, Inc., 2017.
Bunn, Cullen, et al. Star Wars: Darth Maul. Marvel Worldwide, Inc., a Subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 2017.
Howard, Ron, director. Solo: A Star Wars Story. Lucasfilm/Disney, 2018.
Lucas, George, director. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox, 1999.
“The Official Star Wars Website.” StarWars.com, www.starwars.com.
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