It’s a gross understatement to say anticipation for Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was at an all-time high pre-release in 1999. To be honest, it might clearly be the most anticipated movie of all time.
Well, let’s not dwell on the disappointment afterwards—the internet was pretty much born via raging talkbacks about Jar-Jar Binks—but one true shining light throughout that dire feature running-time was Darth Maul, the awesome Sith apprentice of Darth Sidious. It didn’t matter that he kicked the bucket before the movie's conclusion, fan-fare was still was at an adamant high for him then and has resonated over till current times.
So much so that Lucasfilm even retroactively had him survive, as he was brought back into the limelight with several runs in the Dark Horse and Marvel comics, and enjoyed the status of being a major character in both the Clone Wars and the Rebels TV shows.
Of course, rewriting Star Wars history—while a common practice—leads to several head-scratching continuity errors, not to mention, as cool and as menacing the character is, there’s a whole handful of things that don’t make much sense about him. So, let’s delve and examine one of Star Wars' most beloved yet feared characters. We will scrutinize all manner of movie, TV, comic, and video game lore that just didn’t add up to the sum of its parts.
20 Survival Of The Fittest
Regardless of the movies' overall quality, the Darth Maul lightsaber fight from Phantom Menace, certainly was something special. As most of you know, Maul takes out Jedi master Qui-Jon before his apprentice Obi-Wan gets medieval and goes all out, with him tumbling down an excessively long trash-shoot to his demise. Pretty open-and-shut, no?
Enormous fan-fare for Maul prevailed and he was eventually brought back to the canon.
Funnily enough, everyone was so happy with his return, that no one realized there's never been a worthy explanation for his being alive. Sith Apprentice or not, lying in a heap of garbage with your insides exposed is a tough mountain to climb in terms of survival.
I guess we just got to chalk the logic down to fan service then?
19 From Saying Nothing To Being A Blabbermouth
During Maul’s debut in Phantom Menace, he was a villain felt through his intense presence instead of expository dialogue, in fact, the character is near-mute, with only two lines in total. That made things quite jarring once he was revived in the Clone Wars TV show, though. In all fairness, he is discovered by his brother Savage Opress in a majorly traumatized state, with him full-blown looney tunes, screaming and ranting in a non-stop barrage of noise and fury.
After his mental is restored by his mother’s witchcraft, he’s back to a more sinister self, although rebooted as a fairly vocal character. It’s a choice that grows on the viewer, but still, it’s a fairly strange shake-up of his original attributes that never got a full explanation.
18 The Obi-Wan Conundrum
With Maul’s initial passing scene in Phantom Menace, the plot logic of why he glowers at a clinging-for-dear-life Obi-Wan, instead of just force pushing him down to the end, was always a head-scratcher. Ironically, it was a point of contention that would repeat over and over again.
Maul’s entire motivation throughout Clone Wars (and Rebels) is to give Obi-Wan a hot serving of the end.
Yet in the two key moments when he has the Jedi at his full mercy, he decides to send him to sit in a cell instead. Now, it's certainly a common villain oversight to stupidly let the hero escape and nothing new when it comes to TV or movies, but Maul within the canon has been established at being so relentlessly merciless, that he doesn't hesitate at ending anyone or anything—ever. Besides Obi-Wan, three times.
17 No One Ever Mentions Him In Revenge Of The Sith
Of course, it’s tough to scrutinize this specific point, since Maul was retroactively brought back from the afterlife in the Clone Wars timeline, six years after Revenge Of The Sith dropped in cinemas. Still, it deserves a mention as a classic case of Star Wars haphazard continuity being retconned later, with the larger sum just not adding up.
Maul’s return into the fold features him as a major player in the Clone Wars, creating ripples for the Jedi and the Sith, as well as having huge effects on the plot-lines for Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku, and Obi-Wan. Yet, no one ever mentions him during the third act of the Prequel trilogy? Should we hold out hope that George Lucas will CGI Maul into several scenes to sort this error out? Actually, let’s not open that can of worms.
16 His Clone Wars Revenge Scheme Was Highly Illogical
Maul was able to stay alive, in half, for over a decade by focusing on his hatred for Obi-Wan. Once reformed and resurrected his top priority is to end that darn Jedi. So, does he go straight to Obi-Wan and challenge him to a duel to the end? No, instead he and his brother end a bunch of innocent people and demand Obi-Wan meet them.
When that plan miserably fails, Maul suddenly decides revenge can wait… why?
Maul and Savage take a year of ending random Jedi, before assembling several crime syndicates into their own personal army. To go end Obi-Wan, right? No, it's to set off a complex and demanding plot to overtake the political world of Mandalore. It ties into getting revenge on Obi-Wan eventually, but it’s an awful manner to do it for the tunnel vision Maul is going through.
15 He Became A Robot Spider-Thingy
So, when Maul re-emerged in Clone Wars, he did so as a half-Maul half-robot spider combo. It was weird, a notion only echoed by Maul’s broken mental state, with Opress finding him on a grimy scrap planet. Viscerally, it was a strong storytelling choice, and an iconic moment in the series—but if we’re talking logic of his transformation, it's kind of lacking.
There were brief nuggets that some other figure was behind it—which could’ve been enough—yet those threads were just as quickly dropped, as they were hinted at. According to a brief moment in the comic The Clone Wars: The Sith Hunters, it was done via his own force pull. Are we meant to believe that Maul managed to meld himself to distorted arachnid legs while he was going through pain and the meltdown of all meltdowns?
I guess so...
14 Mother Talzin Knew How To Find Maul The Whole Time?
Mother Talzin stands as a fascinating antagonist on Clone Wars, the leader of the necromancing Witch of Dathomir, and mother of Maul, she handed him over as a child to Darth Sidious, to train as his apprentice. Once Talzin's other son, Savage Opress, grows into a fierce assassin throughout Season 3, she tasks him to find his brother Maul with a special talisman. Say what?
Maul had supposedly been ended over a decade prior, but Talzin knew he was alive all along?
Not to mention, she had a special talisman that would literally act as a compass of where to find him. Why was she just sitting on this info, especially when Maul is a vital piece of her war against Darth Sidious? Big old plot-hole is your answer.
13 Pre-Clone Wars, He Had No Clue About The Witches Of Dathomir
In Dark Horse's mini-series Star Wars: Dark Maul, published in 2000, we follow a simple and entertaining prequel story to The Phantom Menace. Basically, Maul is tasked by Darth Sidious with wiping out the entire Galactic crime syndicate Black Sun. That’s it for the plot. Plenty of impressive art and vicious Maul action commences over four issues.
A minor moment contains a massive plot-hole in his origins though; whilst chasing down his last target, a hired mercenary faces off with Maul. She blatantly states she’s a Nightsister, from the Witches of Dathomir, an order run by Maul’s actual Mother Talzin—yet they vocally state they have no clue or recognition of each other here. Certainly, the Dark Horse run has been wiped from canon since the Disney buyout, but Clone Wars and this mini-series came out pre-Disney; so this needed to add up.
12 His Voice Suddenly Changed
As little as Maul talked in Phantom Menace, his voice did have a distinctive, deep and intimidating delivery to it. That’s because it was brought to you by stellar British actor Peter Serafinowicz—currently playing The Tick in Amazon’s reboot series.
When Maul returned though, his voice sounded decidedly different, and way more theatrical.
Well, American actor Sam Witwer had accepted the job instead. His hiring made sense since he had recently impressed George Lucas with motion-capturing and voicing the lead in the Force Unleashed video games. While also showcasing his range by voicing Emperor Palpatine in that series too. Still, Serafinowicz is a more than capable voice performer, one wonders why he wasn’t brought back for sake of continuity?
11 Disney Cancelled His Incredible Looking Solo Video Game
Doesn’t stepping into the shoes of Maul for a Triple-A action game sound like enticing proposition? So thought Red Fly Studio, who as of 2011, was in the midst of developing Battle Of The Sith Lords, featuring your favorite red-faced villain as the lead, slicing dicing stormtroopers like nobodies business.
It was to take place after Return Of The Jedi, with concept art and footage featuring Maul battling on Tatooine, and featuring Savage Opress as a supporting character. Unfortunately, it was another case of the Disney buyout killing it. The post-ROTJ timeline has also gone in a different direction since, as well as Maul and Savage’s arcs. Red Fly has proposed that they’d be willing to pick up the project for EA again though... unless they figure out how to shoehorn Loot Boxes into the gameplay, I wouldn't hold my breath.
10 Everything He Did In Clone Wars Was To Lure Out Darth Sidious
Another casualty of the Disney Lucasfilm buy-out was the Clone Wars TV show. Just as Maul’s plot was heating up, the show was abruptly canceled with about half of Season 6’s episodes unanimated, and Maul’s thread up in the air. The final piece of Maul's story had his brother/apprentice ended at the hands of Darth Sidious, with Maul at the mercy of the Emperor, who joyously zaps him to a cliffhanger conclusion.
Darth Maul: Son Of Dathomir was a comic mini-series that continued what was planned for the show.
Starting with Maul escaping Sidious’ prison and contacting Mother Talzin, she then reveals that everything he’s done since his resurrection was all a super-secret scheme to lure Darth Sidious out of hiding. So much emphasis was put on his revenge against Obi-Wan that this seemed unfeasible.
9 Most Likely Sat Around In A Sith Temple For Fourteen Years
The writing staff of Clone Wars were tasked with creating a new show for Disney: Star Wars: Rebels. It jumped forward in time, set between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. They took an opportunity to bring back several abandoned characters from the former show, including Ashoka Tano, Saw Gerrera, and good old Maul.
Ezra, the hero of Rebels, stumbles into Maul whilst lost outside a giant Sith Temple. It leads to a nice plot twist as Maul manipulates the character into helping him enter the place, but one might be confused as to what the heck Maul was doing since the Clone Wars? Just sitting around this temple with the off chance someone with mild Jedi powers might come by to help him get inside? He certainly never attempted going after Obi-Wan or Emperor Sidious again whilst the wars were still on-going. So what gives?
8 Ezra Trusts Him Way Too Easily
Even more confusing is that Ezra, our young hero on Rebels, is so immediately trusting of Maul. Let’s face facts; Maul basically emerges out of a dark corner of a creepy Sith Temple, with the face of a demon and sinister innuendo hanging off of every sentence—not exactly some kindly lost neighbor?
Yet, even if Ezra was initially cautious, it lasts about ten seconds, with him fully embracing Maul’s plans to enter this temple.
Soon, they work together as a team, working in unison to grab the artifact they both seek. Ezra even willing puts his life in Maul's hands twice in their brief interaction. Why would he do something like this? Not exactly the sharpest branch on the tree, is he?
7 Ashoka Tano Meeting Maul
After grabbing the Holocron artifact and exiting with Maul, Ezra bumps into the rest of his team, consisting of leader Kanan and Clone Wars alumni Ashoka Tano. She immediately recognizes Maul and busts out her lightsaber.
They never faced off each other before, but certainly, she was made aware of him during the Clone Wars, as he was an evil force determined on ending Obi-Wan, that also offed several Jedi in his path. So, after Maul pleads with her, she shrugs it off and lets her guard down, allowing him to split up with Ezra instead. Is anyone surprised when it comes to bite her back?
6 The Black Sun Allied With Him
Another reference to the Darth Maul 2000 comic mini-series—and mind you, this was when it was still considered canon—that makes for some non-sensical cross-over. In said mini-series, Maul basically single-handedly ends the entire galactic syndicate of the Black Suns.
Before Phantom Menace's events, the organization is left in crumbled and humiliated runes.
Once Maul is returned in Clone Wars, his revenge scheme has him getting the allegiance of that same crime syndicate, to help him battle Jedi—and eventually take over Mandalore. For a gang of the galaxy's most hardened and ruthless elite, they sure are forgiving? Maybe, its a case of big fish complying with an even bigger fish, but its a little bit of an oversight nonetheless.
5 His Robot Legs Are Constantly Changing In Size
Once Maul was restored to his sanity by Mother Talzin, she successfully got rid of those grubby spider talons he was sporting, and replaced them with two elongated robotic legs with webbed grips at the end. This altered Maul’s stance and height, with them coming in handy in a fight when he needed to throw in a swift kick into the mix.
When he returned for his Mandalore take-over, his legs were able to fit into trousers, although they protruded with metallic knees and feet. The obvious shape had changed into something more regular. Then in his later Rebel appearances, his physique had grown leaner, with his legs weirdly having slimmed down as well. Sure, we can fill in the blanks and assume he loves customizing his gams over all these years—but it's more likely they redesigned them without thinking anyone would notice.
4 Kanan Lets Ezra Team With Maul
Not surprisingly, Maul betrayed the Rebels gang, attempting to end Askoka and Kanan, and even permanently blinding the latter, even though his handle of the force has given him sight since.
Then, a second time Maul tricks Kanan and literally puts him out an airlock.
It was a dirty deed that almost ended the naive leader. Then, when the paths of Ezra, Maul, and Kanan all interlink a third time, Maul proposes Ezra go off with him on his own to find the meaning of the Holocron. Kanan instead of blasting a hole through this devious being who’s tried to end him in cold-blood twice, he instead accepts the concept. Things lead to typically dire consequences.
3 They Haven’t Put Him Back On The Big Screen
So, with the Star Wars galaxy mass expansion on the big screen in recent years, they’re announcing spin-off movies left-right-and-centre. Officially green-lighting things no one really asked for (a.k.a Solo: A Star Wars Story), to rumors of things that no one has really asked for (a.k.a. a Jabba the Hutt Origin tale).
Yet, where's the love for Maul?
Of course, he graced small screens with a stellar run on Rebels, but it's not the same thing as having Ray Park slap back on the make-up and Sith robes. It’s crazy to think that this character that has had such a lasting impact throughout its cinematic universe, but at present, there hasn’t been one murmur of bringing him back to the big screen.
Come on, Kathleen Kennedy.
2 Searched For The Holocron Instead
So when Maul remerged in Rebels, he was determined on finding the Holocron artifact for mysterious motives. Eventually, it was revealed that it was so he could find the location of the in-hiding Obi-Wan Kenobi, so he could finally extract his revenge. It’s a given that taking out old Ben was a priority on his list for decades now, but let’s review what’s occurred since he returned in Clone Wars.
Firstly, Maul's whole plan was revealed to be a front to lure out Darth Sidious.
Secondly, Darth Sidious ends his brother, and thirdly, his mother—two of the only people he actually had a smidgeon of affection for. So, his grudge against Kenobi is still the highest on his naughty list? Time to sort out your priorities, Maul.
1 George Lucas Tried Sending Him Off Way Too Early
So, George Lucas wanted the Sith apprentice ended and done in Phantom Menace; it’s baffling to think about it now in hindsight. One of the true factors of concern for fans going into the Episode 1, was that it would lack a villain as iconic and memorable as Darth Vader. Turned out this was the only part the film that managed to succeed.
Certainly, Maul had a long way to go and not much screentime to reach the bar set by Vader—but without a doubt, for many, he was a fierce and memorable presence and one that would’ve been a massive benefactor for the prequel trilogy going forward. But nonetheless, Lucas wanted him gone and did so in a way he felt definitive—with Maul tumbling down below in two pieces—to cement that no one can bring him back.
Guess Lucas was way off about that one.