From Sith apprentice to Old Master, Darth Maul is the Star Wars villain everyone loves to hate. Here's what you need to know about Maul!
This Star Wars article contains spoilers.
From the Prequel Trilogy to Star Wars Rebels, Darth Maul just won’t quit. The short-lived villain from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace became a standout fan favorite because of his appearance and acrobatic lightsaber moves, and after his return in season four of The Clone Wars, he moved into other mediums – like the four-part Son of Dathomir comic series.
His surprise resurgence in Rebels brought the villain to a whole new era of Star Wars, as Maul clashed with the heroes of the early Rebellion. His particular interest in young Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger made for quite a few interesting appearances. In his final episode, Maul faced off against his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the twin suns of Tatooine. Maul was finally defeated, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never see him again. If the villain has proved anything, it’s that he’s not one to stay down.
Here are some important facts you may not have known about the former Sith villain, either behind the scenes or in the galaxy far, far away:
His design was created by Iain McCaig
Ian McCaig is the same designer whose art would eventually inspire the witches of Dathomir in The Clone Wars. Early concept art for the character showed a villainous-looking woman with hair falling in strands across her face. McCaig experimented with ink-blot “Rorschach” designs as well as flayed-looking faces before finding the right look for Darth Maul. The tattoos on his face follow the muscle structure beneath.
A canonical connection between the Dathomiri witches and the Sith would only be established later on in The Clone Wars, and now continues into the new canon, but the connection was always there in the art. Iain McCaig also designed many of Padme’s outfits in Episode I.
Darth Maul wears an earring in the film – but this wasn’t planned.
Actor Ray Park put on a small, silver earring before sitting down to do the Darth Maul makeup, and only noticed it later. But George Lucas said he liked it, so the earring stayed. Park has said that he sees the earring as an aspect of himself, not of the character – and in an Expanded Universe where every doodad and costume piece usually has a story, there has never been a canon explanation to give this particular detail a role in Maul’s history.
Ray Park also had a hand in developing Maul’s fighting style, and asked that the hilt of Maul’s double lightsaber be lengthened so that he could use it more efficiently.
He’s had two different mothers.
In Son of Dathomir, Talzin says that she’s Maul’s blood mother. This is different from his history in Legends, but only slightly.
Maul’s original mother, from the young adult novel, The Wrath of Darth Maul, was a human Nightsister named Kycina, from a region called Blue Desert City. It’s still possible that Talzin is lying, but The Clone Wars gave Maul an entire family.
We’re not precisely sure how the brothers Feral and Savage are related, but they could all be blood-related from this same family. Who is the father? We don’t know yet.
Maul, like many other villains, earned his cyborg parts.
In Star Wars, cybernetic implants are like battle scars. This isn’t unique to antagonists, but Darth Vader and General Grievous had extensive cybernetic reconstruction. Darth Maul goes through this in The Clone Wars, too, although it isn’t overtly obvious in Son of Dathomir. Maul’s original artificial legs are of a similar design to Grievous’, and were built out of Nightsister magic and scrap parts by Mother Talzin.
A similar design for Darth Maul appeared many years earlier in Old Wounds, a non-canon comic (even in the Legends timeline) that told the story of Maul’s rematch with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. The Clone Wars featured an entirely new design for Maul: an eight-legged body made out of scrap metal. By the time Maul appeared in Rebels, he had acquired more refined parts. His metal legs were almost human-like.
He sought his master’s approval even while trying to destroy him.
Sure, Darth Maul was a bit of a pushover for getting cut in half by a teenage Padawan. But in Son of Dathomir, he and his combined forces of Mandalorians and criminals capture both Count Dooku and General Grievous without lengthy battles. Once they’re in his clutches, Maul parades his success in front of Darth Sidious in one of the most telling parts of the comic.
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Maul displays Grievous and Dooku to Sidious so that the Sith Lord can see their failure. For someone who opposed Sidious for years on The Clone Wars, Maul is very quick to show off to him – which makes for a bitter, twisted moment in Maul and Sidious’ long-standing Master-apprentice relationship.
In that way, the Son of Dathomir comic doesn’t just make Maul more powerful, it also tells a lot about how Maul seeks both revenge on and approval from his master – and that’s a story thread that started all the way back in The Phantom Menace.
Some of Maul’s Clone Wars stories are still unwritten.
The novel Ahsoka opens with a short scene showing some of what Maul was up to around the time of Revenge of the Sith. We don’t know the exact timeline of how he got to Mandalore where he faced her. However, it is one puzzle piece in the picture of what might have happened in The Clone Wars had it continued past six seasons.
The verbal barb Maul throws at Ahsoka — “One last attempt at glory to impress a master who has no further use for you” — is telling. He showed that very same weakness throughout the Clone Wars when he tried to return to Darth Sidious, so it seems natural that this particular effort would be on his mind when he faces Ahsoka.
Ahsoka saved Maul’s life.
Without Ahsoka’s appearance in Rebels, Maul’s fate might have been very different. Executive Producer Dave Filoni originally planned for Maul to die at Darth Vader’s hands during the season two finale. However, Ahsoka’s history with Vader was deemed more appropriate for the big season two finale.
A duel between Maul and Vader would have satisfied fans’ desire to see a fight scene between these two heavy-hitters, but Ahsoka’s story had more emotional weight, Filoni said. Without enough time in the episode to do both, Filoni decided to send Ahsoka to fight Vader, and, therefore, keep Maul alive.
Maul never really finds himself.
Star Wars features many stories of young people growing up and finding their true destinies. Luke Skywalker set the example, but Ezra Bridger and Rey followed suit. Maul, on the other hand, is a perpetual apprentice, never able to move past the manipulative relationship Darth Sidious trapped him in. The partnership between Maul and Ezra in Rebels is as much about Maul finding a direction as it is about him giving orders to Ezra.
Filoni said, “Maul is waiting for someone so that he can be his own Sith Lord. Everything he does is a reflection of Palpatine. He hasn’t really done anything that’s representative of who he is.”
Maul’s search for himself leads directly to the culmination of his story…
Maul believed in the Chosen One prophecy.
Remember that Old Wounds comic? Rebels took Maul’s final chapter in a similar direction. The specifics of the face-off between Maul and Kenobi were very different from what happened in Old Wounds: the episode “Twin Suns” is less focused on their battle and more on the long bond of enmity between Maul and Obi-Wan.
In the poetic and melancholy “Twin Sons,” Maul expresses a dying wish to know whether Obi-Wan was on the planet to guard the Chosen One. Obi-Wan says yes, and Maul dies believing that there is still hope for the Sith to rise when the Chosen One brings “balance.” In the end, Luke Skywalker brings hope to everyone — even his master’s old enemy.
Game developers keep trying to make a Maul story.
Maul’s dramatic visual design and simple motivation have made him a popular choice Star Wars video games as well as other media. Revenge drives him, so he provides an immediate hook for a video game that could pit him against Jedi and other dark siders.
A game that would have been a collaboration between LucasArts and Red Fly Studio was poised to tell a dark tale about Maul after Return of the Jedi, but was never completed. Concept art for Battlefront IV also features Maul, albeit a light side version who trained as a Jedi (and, since he wasn’t canonically Dathomirian at the time, didn’t have his tattoos.)
Now that Maul has finally died in canon, it seems like his story might have ultimately wrapped up on a message of hope. Even Maul, a tragic villain, was granted hope by a Jedi.
Megan Crouse is a staff writer.