CS Soapbox: Will We Ever See A Live-Action Darth Maul Again?
Ever since the Sith Lord played two-on-one with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, Star Wars fans have wanted more Darth Maul. While he didn’t say much in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, his acrobatic style, unique appearance, and iconic double-bladed lightsaber have made him one of the franchise’s most memorable characters. George Lucas had likely no intention of bringing Maul back after fell in pieces down Naboo’s planet core; however, thanks to his popularity, Maul has endured well beyond his initial demise.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars revealed (to the delight of fans) that Maul had survived his injuries from his duel with Obi-Wan. Focusing on his hatred for Obi-Wan, the former Sith Lord (voiced by Sam Witwer) was able to over his mental and physical limitations, ultimately regains his full strength. Lucasfilm’s animated series not only fleshed out Maul’s backstory, giving him much to say and do, but made him a pivotal character as he attempted to dominate the galaxy with the Shadow Collective while simultaneously seeking revenge against the man who dismantled him and the master who abandoned him.
Don’t get us wrong. Star Wars and Maul’s animated exploits have been great, but nothing compares to the franchise’s bread and butter: live-action. Aside from his live-action appearance in Episode I, Ray Park has only played Maul one other time, in Solo: A Star Wars Story. That film takes place roughly 8-10 years after the Clone Wars and follows a young Han Solo before Star Wars: A New Hope. Solo’s love interest in the film, Qi’ra is a lieutenant in Crimson Dawn—an emerging crime syndicate. At the end of the film, Park makes a brief cameo as Maul, who is revealed to be a figurehead of Crimson Dawn.
Solo: A Star Wars Story set Park’s Maul up for future live-action appearances, having ordered Qi’ra to meet him on his home planet,of Dathomir so that they may work “more closely.” Unfortunately, the film’s lackluster performance has single-handedly reshaped Star Wars’ cinematic future. Instead of risking franchise fatigue, with multiple films retreading events with/around the Skywalker saga, the success of The Mandalorian has Disney/Lucasfilm focusing on the small screen, leaving the big-screen future uncertain (the High Republic?). Any planned sequel to Solo: Star Wars Story has since been scrapped.
The interesting thing about all this is that Solo: Star Wars Story, despite all its behind-the-scenes drama, still did well enough with critics and has since become an underground hit. We don’t hate it. At all. Fans want more. Rumors have recently been floating around that there might be a Disney+ spin-off series starring Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. While these rumors have since been debunked, the hype surrounding them will affect Disney’s game plan moving forward. Their streaming service has many TV shows in the works (some announced, others yet-to-be).
The events of the animation, Star Wars Rebels, elaborates on Maul’s time between Solo: A Star Wars Story and Episode IV. The character’s story ends following one last confrontation with his arch-enemy—Maul dies in the arms of Obi-Wan (aw). This doesn’t mean we won’t see him again. If the animations have proven anything, it’s that the intermingling of Obi-Wan and Maul’s stories is both an effective and reverenced aspect of the mythology. That said, Maul will almost certainly show up in upcoming Star Wars: The Bad Batch animation (Star Wars: The Clone Wars spin-off) but, more importantly, Disney+’s live-action Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
The Star Wars spin-off will see Ewan McGregor reprise his role of Obi-Wan 8 years after Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The series will presumably take place on Tatooine (the death place of Maul)—where “Ben Kenobi” watching over Luke Skywalker and his family. However, the production is reportedly looking to cast a young Leia Organa who resides on Alderaan with her father, Senator Bail Organa. Obi-Wan and Leia’s father were allies in the Clone Wars; therefore, the new casting reports imply that Obi-Wan will be spending time in places other than Tatooine throughout the show. Given Maul’s activity in the galaxy at this time (causing mayhem), it’s not a stretch to assume Obi-Wan will once again cross paths with Maul (especially if the former chooses to aid the rebellion).
The possibilities for seeing a live-action Darth Maul again are endless. Disney can pretty much place him anywhere between the events of Episode III and IV (while adhering to canon). In addition to the Obi-Wan Kenobi series (and all the unconfirmed ones), a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prequel series following Diego Luna’s Cassin Andor is also in the works.
The studio loves playing around with the aforementioned period. A time frame where Maul is very much alive and relevant. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker concluded the Skywalker saga on the big screen, but that timeline is thriving on the small screen. Odds are we will see a live-action Darth Maul again on Disney+. Whether Ray Park will reprise his role—given recent controversies—or Sam Witwer takes over his live-action duties, remains to be seen.