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Star Wars: Who Is Darth Bane And Why Do We Need A Trilogy?

The "Star Wars" franchise has grown exponentially since Disney acquired the IP and began giving us spin-offs and series to quench the evergrowing need for a galaxy far away. The focus of the franchise has primarily been surrounding the Skywalker Saga and the royal family of force-users that anchored the storylines of the nine primary films. But there is a character hidden deep in the Expanded Universe that could offer a fresh angle for "Star Wars." Darth Bane is a largely unknown character for casual fans, one who could not only give us something new but maybe even revitalize the franchise.

With the release of the sequel trilogy, the franchise faced a divided fanbase that had mixed reactions to the new directions the films took. What we learned from the three new movies is that creating characters that can live up to the legacy created by Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is a tall order. But the new trilogy just couldn't find its footing with fans by going in different directions. Love it or hate it, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" turned much of the franchise on its head and sparked some fan backlash.

"Star Wars" is mostly relegated to series on Disney+ as most of its recent success comes from "The Mandalorian," "Andor," and "Obi-Wan Kenobi." But Bane, whose story was explored in Drew Karpyshyn's "Darth Bane" novel trilogy, may offer the lifeline the film arm of "Star Wars" desperately needs.

The Rule of Two

A thousand years before Obi-Wan Kenobi gave Luke Skywalker his father's lightsaber, the Sith numbers rivaled the Jedi Order in the Brotherhood of Darkness. While the war between the Jedi and the Sith raged on, a young soldier named Darth Bane realized that the Sith's infighting and selfishness would be the reasons they could never beat the Jedi. To make the Sith more powerful, he destroyed them. As the sole survivor, he took on an apprentice, Darth Zannah.

Bane realized that the Sith could only remain powerful if they schemed and pulled strings to manipulate the Republic and destroy the Jedi from the shadows. To do that, he created the rule of two: "There should only be two, no more, no less. One to embody power, the other one to crave it." If you are a Sith, the only way to attain power is to take out the strongest existing Sith, the very one who taught you everything you know. The result is the Sith will only ever be ruled by the strongest, and the practice enabled them to undermine the Republic and eventually create the Galactic Empire.

Precisely as he intended, Zannah was able to lure him to the planet of Ambria, where she killed him and became the last Sith. His death and the Jedi's ignorance of Zannah's existence ushered in a millennium of peace where the Sith stayed hidden until Darth Maul (Ray Park) dueled and murdered Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).

How could Darth Bane revitalize Star Wars?

One of the most significant issues facing the "Star Wars" franchise is that the concept of new blood has yet to work. While the heist team in "Rogue One" was beloved enough to spark an "Andor" prequel, the rest of the films have been able to only focus on the Skywalker Saga without ever exploring the rest of the galaxy. Darth Bane is the kind of character that the franchise needs so that it could break away from the tired and overused Jedi storylines.

The idea of a villain as a protagonist is nothing new. Films like "Scarface," "Joker," "The Irishman," and "The Usual Suspects" put villains (or at least people we wouldn't consider good in the usual sense) in the lead as the protagonist. We follow the story and find ourselves rooting for the bad guy to accomplish his goals and fulfill whatever ends they pursue. Watching Bane destroy the Sith in a film to become the lone survivor, followed by the rise of Darth Zannah in a sequel, culminating in a confrontation in a third, is the kind of trilogy the "Star Wars" sorely needs.

The film arm of the franchise needs to find a way to inject new blood into a series of films that have lost many of the legacy fans and failed to gain enough new ones to carry it forward. Since the most beloved characters in the franchise are largely Sith (Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren, for instance), giving them a new protagonist wielding a red lightsaber makes sense.

Is he still around?

Here is where the "Star Wars" franchise could really get turned on its head. Near the end of the third novel in the Darth Bane trilogy, when Bane and Zannah are dueling for supremacy, Bane attempts to transfer his consciousness to her. The power of essence transfer is used by many Sith to survive by transferring their essence from one body to another and sometimes to an inanimate object. Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), aka Emperor Palpatine, accomplished the same talent at the end of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

Bane lost his left arm before falling in his duel against his apprentice. During a battle of wills between the two, Zannah defeats and kills him. However, in the novel's final moments, Zannah takes on her new apprentice, Darth Cognus. While it seemed that the rule of two was beginning to take shape with Zannah destroying her master and taking on an apprentice, author Drew Karpyshyn was deliberate in having Cognus notice that her new master was flexing her left fist and seemingly hinting at the idea that Bane was victorious in the battle of wills and transferred his essence to Zannah, thereby extending his life.

How can this impact the franchise as a whole? Darth Bane is one of the most powerful Siths ever to live. He orchestrated the demise of every other Sith in existence and was able to master many powers that were still in use during Sidious/Palpatine's time. There is a possibility that Bane not only survived his encounter with Zannah but has been transferring his essence ever since, leapfrogging through time. Imagine the fan reaction when they discover that Sidious hadn't learned the power of essence transfer but had known it for centuries as Darth Bane.