As we say goodbye once again to one of Star Wars‘ greatest villains, let’s take a look back at the former Sith’s best moments from The Clone Wars, Rebels, the comics, and beyond.
Duel of the Fates
The Phantom Menace is not a perfect movie, but the two-on-one lightsaber duel in the third act is a great example of the kind of action and physical storytelling that makes Star Wars such an effective and enduring movie franchise. Maul is a nearly voiceless demon dogging the heels of the good guys for most of the film, his powers obscured until he finally reveals himself on Naboo. For the audience watching this duel on the big screen, this was the first chance to see a full-fledged Jedi of legend dueling a Sith Lord.
Actor Ray Park was hired primarily for his ability to do the stunts and fight work. Choreographed by Nick Gillard, the lightsaber fight was acrobatic and wide-ranging, mixing in more melee than had been possible in the Original Trilogy. The climactic duel also introduced the double-bladed lightsaber to the Star Wars galaxy. The weapon and the character would be inseparable in fans’ minds for years to come.
How do you revive a character who has been cut in half? Just as in the world of comic books, Star Wars offers plenty of options. Since the Original Trilogy, Star Wars has made it common practice to rebuild mortally wounded and horribly mutilated villains, shaping them into a whole new threat. In 2012, The Clone Wars confirmed that there was more to Maul’s story than The Phantom Menace. Season 4 episode “Brothers” opens with the horror movie atmosphere of the scrapyard on planet Lotho Minor, where Maul has been living since his defeat on Naboo.
He fashions himself a new, arachnid-like body out of trash, and it fits the frightening philosophy of the Sith as well as Maul’s gruesome fate. Spider legs twitch and stab, allowing Maul to climb around his trash-filled cave. Maul has become a hybrid of person and machine, human and animal. He doesn’t keep the spider legs for long, only for a few episodes, but it’s one of the most dramatic changes to his look, and a frightening new possibility when it comes to what cyborgs in Star Wars can become. Spider Maul will haunt your dreams.