A Tattooed Demon That Refused to Stay Dead!
With as deadly serious about allowing non-cannon stuff into the sandbox that was George Lucas’s baby, there is something to be said for a monstrous fan following so strong that Lucas approved of a character that he killed in one of the films to be brought back!
Darth Maul was the coolest bad guy anyone had seen since Darth Vader stepped onto the screen in A New Hope; he was mysterious, had a terrifying appearance, and wielded a scary new weapon that prompted lightsaber toy sales into orbit.
The Zabrak Sith Lord didn’t have a lot of screen time in Episode I, The Phantom Menace, but when he was on screen his presence was felt (in large part due to the creepy choral whispers in his theme music)!
There is something about an impressive yet mysterious bad guy who only has a couple of lines of dialogue that is attractive (Boba Fett comes to mind, who I will write about soon!) for reasons that are hard to explain.
Origins: When we first get a glimpse of Darth Maul in Episode I we know right away that everything about this guy begs the story of who and what he is about. The tattoos, knowing that he was Emperor Palpatine’s apprentice long before Darth Vader, the double-bladed red lightsaber staff; oh my gosh!
It wasn’t until the animated clone wars series that we got to learn about where Darth Maul came from and the circumstances that led to him being the student of Sheev (yes, that is his first name…I know) Palpatine, A.K.A. “Darth Sidious.”
The very abridged version of where he came from is that he was born to a darkside witch who Darth Sidious promised to take as his apprentice, only to betray her and take her son instead.
There are two conflicting origin stories about his tattoos:
- His tattoos were given to him when he was a child by his mother, which I personally think is garbage
- The camp that I am in say that his tattoo are Sith tattoos meant to strike fear into the hearts of those that see him (Sith feed on fear and anger, so this makes more sense to me and is cooler)
Powers and Abilities: Darth Maul was trained to be an assassin like no other before him. The tattooed demon was highly trained in the Jedi arts according to Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn (who Maul impaled and killed) and was a master of multiple styles of melee combat. This expertise included unarmed martial arts as well as his signature double-bladed red lightsaber, acrobatics, and tracking skills that would make even the best bounty hunter jealous. Equipped with state of the art tech and the intelligence of Palpatine’s network, Darth Maul was a Force to be reckoned with. Don’t get me started on his resurrection!
My Thoughts: Darth Maul is the stuff of nightmares (George Lucas asked concept designer Ian McCaig to create a visual concept for Darth Maul from his worst nightmares, the end result is what we have seen and love). His appearances and ferocity in his “final” duel with Obi-Wan were like nothing we had ever seen before, leaving many fans disappointed in his short but powerful screen presence. This fan reaction persisted for years after The Phantom Menace’s release and is one of the only times that I know of where the fans influenced the creators and brought the character back. The only other case of this I know of is with another amazing, but far too short-lived sci-fi fan fave Fox show, Firefly.
Check back in with me for more SW characters!