The untold truth of Darth Maul

In 1999, Darth Maul took the world of fandom by storm with his brief appearance in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Though it's not well-loved by fans today, if there's one good thing that came out of the first Star Wars prequel, it's Darth Maul. Too bad he died at the end of the movie — or did he? Turns out getting chopped in half and thrown down an elevator shaft isn't quite the death sentence it used to be. Here's the untold truth of Darth Maul.

Planet of the Rancors

Remember the Rancor, the toothy, drooly monster that almost ate Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi? Turns out that thing was from the planet Dathomir — just like Darth Maul, along with a clan of Force-wielding witches called the Nightsisters. The animated Clone Wars TV show spells out the details of Maul's upbringing, like the fact that he was born to a high priestess of the Nightsisters, grew up practicing Force magic, and received a series of tribal art tattoos all over his body.

A Forceful family

During his early life on Dathomir, Maul had two brothers: Feral and Savage Opress. After Maul left his homeworld with Darth Sidious, both Feral and Savage Opress continued their training, following in the traditions of their tribe. Eventually, Opress was chosen as a Sith apprentice by the evil Asajj Ventress, one of the main villains from the Clone Wars animated series. And how did Ventress test Opress's loyalty? By commanding him to kill his brother, Feral. If you think that's bad, don't even ask about the written test. Nothing but word problems and trigonometry.

Half-life

When it comes to lightsaber fights, there are cool, mysterious ways to die, like when Obi-Wan Kenobi gave up his corporeal form during his duel with Darth Vader to strengthen Luke Skywalker's connection to the Force. And then there are embarrassing and unintentionally hilarious ways to die, like when Darth Maul got cut in half and fell down an elevator shaft like a chump.

But then, it's hard to keep a good villain down. Despite being sliced in two, Darth Maul survived his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi from The Phantom Menace. Maul's tale of survival is detailed in The Clone Wars-based comic book, The Sith Hunters. Using the same kind of hate-fueled Force power that kept Darth Vader alive after getting carved up in Episode III, Darth Maul's angry top-half made his way to a garbage planet called Lotho Minor. There, he went crazy, obsessed over taking revenge on Obi-Wan…oh, and he figured out how to make a new set of robot-spider-legs. Like you do. Eventually, Maul's little brother, Savage Opress, rescued him from Lotho Minor and brought him back home. There, Maul's mommy helped him find his lost marbles, and even got a new pair of legs.

Fun fact: Darth Maul's original legs figured out how to make a new robot torso too! Legs Maul has been washing dishes in Dexter Jettster's diner ever since.

Revenge of the Sith

While raising hell around the galaxy, Darth Maul and Savage Opress decided to go after not just Obi-Wan Kenobi, but also Maul's former master: Darth Sidious, better known as Senator Palpatine. It didn't go super well for Maul, though. Sidious managed to defeat the brothers, killing Savage Opress, and imprisoning Maul for a time. Who would've guessed that confronting an all-powerful master of the Dark Side of the Force who single-handedly engineered a galactic civil war and would become the future emperor of evil space magic wouldn't be a great idea?

Jedi trainer

While The Clone Wars TV series may have ended, the story was picked up again by the show Star Wars Rebels. That show follows the adventures of a group of freedom fighters, including the Jedi and Padawan pair of Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger. And it was during season two that young Ezra encountered Darth Maul, who taught him the ways of the Dark Side. Fortunately for the fledgling Rebellion movement, Maul's training didn't quite stick, and Ezra is still a good guy…for now.

Man of few words

So now you know all about Darth Maul before and after his debut in The Phantom Menace. What you may not know, however, is that he's actually barely in that movie at all, clocking in at roughly 15 minutes of screen time. And while his epic lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn accounts for a good chunk of that screen time, he still only uttered three lines of dialogue.

Needless to say, the end result didn't really sit well with Peter Serafinowicz, the British actor-comedian who was tapped to give Maul his voice. Interestingly, he saw signs that maybe this role wasn't all it was cracked up to be when he first went in to record Maul's voice — and shared the recording booth with George Lucas himself, whose only direction was to make him "sound real evil."


Darth Molly

When it comes to females, let's just say the first six Star Wars movies didn't really, well, have many of them. A couple of Princesses, a shapeshifting bounty hunter with no backstory, and a handful of aliens are just about the only women to show up in George Lucas' Star Wars movies — which makes it all the more interesting to learn that there were briefly plans to make Darth Maul a woman.

In the early days of pre-production for The Phantom Menace, George Lucas reportedly explained that Darth Maul would be "a figure from your worst nightmare." So concept artist Iain McCaig drew just that: an evil-looking Sith witch, streaked with bloody-looking ribbons. The concept evolved into Darth Maul from there, but the makers of The Clone Wars television show reportedly referred back to McCaig's original "Sith witch" design for the creation of Maul's mother, Talzin.

He hunted Rathtars (you know, the really freaky things?)

Where Old Man Maul has been hanging around in Star Wars: Rebels, Marvel Comics has also been filling in some of the gaps in Maul's history in a new Star Wars comic solo run. In the new series, we learn that young Maul traveled to the remote planet of Twon Ketee to hunt Rathtars as a way to blow off steam. As fans learned during Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rathtars are the wildly dangerous beasts that Han Solo and Chewbacca were transporting in their ship. Rey and Finn end up releasing them to try and save Han, and the creatures take out pretty much everyone they run into along the way. First off, the fact that Maul hunted these things for sport is a reminder that he is one heck of a warrior. It also provides some new connective tissue to link the world of the prequel trilogy to the new saga Disney is building across films, animated shows, and comic books.

He had a final faceoff with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine

The animated series Star Wars Rebels filled in a lot of lingering questions about the final years of Maul's life, and in March of 2017, the series revealed Maul's (apparently final) death, too. In the Rebels episode "Twin Suns," Maul tracks Ob-Wan Kenobi to the planet Tatooine—where Kenobi's been in hiding for years keeping an eye on Luke Skywalker. Maul manipulates the Rebels character Ezra to lure out Obi-Wan, and the duo face off the final time. It's a short fight, and Obi-Wan takes out Maul in a way that should make a lot of sense for fans who watched the prequel trilogy closely. Maul tries to pull the move he used to kill Qui-Gon Jinn all those years ago, but Obi-Wan is ready for it—and slices through the hilt of Maul's blade, killing his old foe at last.

​He died with hope in Luke Skywalker

Later, as Maul lies dying in Obi-Wan's arms, the two actually share a sweet moment in which they find some common ground in all their shared trauma. Maul has figured out Obi-Wan is hiding on the barren planet to protect someone or something. With his last words, he asks Obi-Wan if the person he protects is the Chosen One. Obi-Wan answers, "Yes." Then, with his dying breath, Maul says, "Then he will avenge us." Obi-Wan closes Maul's eyes as the two both share a hope that some type of balance will finally be brought to the Force—setting up, of course, the original Star Wars trilogy.

Darth Maul's future

It's hard to imagine that more than a decade after he met his apparent demise in The Phantom Menace, we'd end up with this much Darth Maul to enjoy. But his resurrection in the pages of Star Wars comics and his continued relevance on the small screen means that despite his apparently final death during Star Wars Rebels, his presence will continue to linger. There's no telling where he might show up next. With Star Wars spinoff movies on the horizon, could we see a Darth Maul solo film sometime in the not-so-distant future? It's hard to say now, but one thing is clear: this is hardly the last we've seen of one of Star Wars' most intimidating, enduring, and enigmatic villains ever.