Despite its $1 billion worldwide box office take, it's safe to say that Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is one of the moredivisive entries in the entire saga thus far. The 1999 film, to be fair, had 16 years of anticipation to live up to and aimed to reveal the path that led Anakin Skywalker to become one of most fearsome movie villains of all time.
However, while Episode I's critics have long pointed to an overabundance of CGI, too much focus on interplanetary politics and the character of Jar Jar Binks among its biggest flaws, there's one element of the film that most fans can agree worked: Darth Maul. The mysterious Sith apprentice, as played by actor/stuntman Ray Park, became an instant sensation once the trailers revealed his demonic look and double-bladed red lightsaber, but his big screen appearance has been limited to that first prequel film.
Now that Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm is kicking off a Star Wars shared universe, Park has voiced his hope that Maul could star in his own solo film. According to IGN, here's what the actor had to say:
"I would love to be disciplined, like not eat anything for four months, and be shredded and do the whole tattoo body effect like you see in the comics and the novels. I’d love to do that! If Darth Maul was coming back, he should be topless, tattooed, bigger horns, robotic legs! I would love to do it!"
While Maul did seemingly meet his end in a climactic lightsaber duel with Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I, hardcore fans know that the character did later appear on the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars sporting a pair of robotic legs, as Park alludes to. This year's The Force Awakens will open up a whole new world of possibilities for the Disney-owned franchise, and even though much of the established expanded universe material has been dropped as canon, the Clone Wars series remains part of the main continuity, meaning there's no reason that a solo Darth Maul film couldn't be in the cards.
Whether or not bringing back such a fan-favorite character would be a wise move for Disney/Lucasfilm at this point is a matter of debate. The new film looks like it aims to expand the "galaxy far, far away" as much as it will honor the franchise's history. To that end, relying on an established character like Maul - whose sole appearance was in one of the most poorly received films of the series - could be a step backwards. This isn't the first time Park has talked up the possibility, but that could be more wishful thinking on his part, as the ongoing slew of spinoff rumors hasn't made much mention of Maul.
Would you like to see Park return as Darth Maul in a standalone film, or should the character be left in the series' past? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015. The first spinoff film, Star Wars: Rogue One, follows on December 16, 2016.