Darth Maul is back in Star Wars in a big way, but his shock appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story shouldn't be setting up a big showdown in the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. Maul in Solo was a surprising twist, given moviegoers last saw the Sith Apprentice when he was sliced in half by Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace. More general Star Wars fans would be aware that George Lucas himself had Maul resurrected in The Clone Wars animated series, and that he became a dangerous foe for the heroes of Star Wars Rebels. But nobody had ever expected Maul to return to the big screen.
More than a bit of fan service, Maul's scene feels like set-up. There's a surely-deliberate parallel between Maul's introduction in Solo and the Emperor's in The Empire Strikes Back; both are first glimpsed through ominous holo-images, both stand hooded and in shadow, and both are truly the real threat. If Darth Vader is terrifying, how dangerous must his Master be? And if Dryden Vos is a fearsome foe, how much more so is the Crimson Dawn's true leader, who Vos fears so greatly?
But if this is setup, what is it setup for? There's potential for a sequel that would return to him and Qi'ra (although Solo's poor box office performance puts that into question), as there is also with the Boba Fett film. However, the standalone film that's got the most Maul hype is Kenobi. A movie looking at Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan becoming a desert hermit has been rumored for years and looks to finally be happening soon, and a final showdown with Darth Maul would seem to fit with that. However, as with most things Star Wars, it isn't so simple.
- This Page: Maul Doesn't Fit Obi-Wan's Story
- Page 2: Maul In Kenobi Poses Bigger Star Wars Canon Problems
Maul's Obi-Wan Kenobi Story Has Already Been Told
As revealed on The Clone Wars will know, Darth Maul survived the Battle of Naboo, and was ultimately transformed into a cybernetic warrior. Maul proved to be a major thorn in the Jedi's side during the Clone Wars, when he became leader of a vast criminal conspiracy. Worse still, the former Sith Apprentice burned with a deep desire for vengeance against the Jedi who had almost killed him - Obi-Wan Kenobi. This became a deep-rooted vendetta, with the two Force-users locked in combat time and again. The abrupt ending of The Clone Wars animated series left Maul's story incomplete, although it was touched upon in E. K. Johnston's novel Ahsoka.
But Dave Filoni has never liked leaving a major plot thread unresolved. As a result, Maul returned in Star Wars Rebels, revealed to have been stranded on the Sith planet Malachor for years. He proved a fascinating adversary, acting as a corrupting influence towards the young Padawan Ezra Bridger. Finally, in the season 3 episode "The Holocrons of Fate," Maul received a vision that told him Obi-Wan Kenobi was still alive. His vendetta reborn, Maul sought out the Jedi Master, who by now was living in seclusion on Tatooine. Matters came to a head in the episode "Twin Suns," one of the most effective episodes in the entire series of Rebels. It saw Maul successfully track Obi-Wan to Tatooine. Kenobi slew Maul with surprising ease, in a sequence that showed how Obi-Wan's knowledge, skill, and even fighting style had evolved.
Rebels shows how Maul's vendetta against Obi-Wan came to an end: it details how he learned Obi-Wan was still alive; it explains how he found the Jedi Master; and it tells the final chapter in Maul's story, as Obi-Wan slew him in the desert sands of Tatooine. There's no room for a new narrative here; if Maul were to appear in Kenobi, then the film would essentially have to be little more than a big-screen adaptation of episodes of Star Wars Rebels, specifically "Twin Suns."
Maul's Final Confrontation Is A Small Part of Obi-Wan's Story
Meanwhile, as important as Obi-Wan Kenobi may be to Darth Maul, the reality is that Maul's final confrontation with the Jedi Master is only a small part of Obi-Wan's story. Indeed, that Maul even has a vendetta against Obi-Wan - let alone that the two have clashed after Naboo - isn't even hinted at in the movies.
For Obi-Wan, this Sith Apprentice is something of a tangent, a distraction. When Maul finally arrives on Tatooine in "Twin Suns," the Jedi Master doesn't initially wish to reveal himself and fight at all. Instead, he simply watches from the shadows as the desperate Maul wanders through the Tatooine deserts. It's only when young Ezra Bridger arrives, falling prey to Maul's influence once again, that Kenobi steps out of the shadows. By the time of Kenobi's exile to Tatooine, this vendetta is a one-way affair; he no longer has any interest in Maul. Rather, Obi-Wan is focused on just one thing - protecting the child he believes to be the Chosen One.
That made for a riveting animated episode. But it doesn't lend itself well to a full movie. The idea of a threat that the hero views with disinterest, and ultimately dispatches with skillful ease, is inimical to a dramatic film. Obi-Wan's desire to remain in hiding, his reluctance to step out of the shadows and actually fight his old enemy, made for a beautiful climax to Maul's story; but it simply wouldn't translate into an effective drama on the big screen.