Darth Maul Returns (on Clone Wars)
Lucasfilm is bringing back Darth Maul in a way that will somehow explain that he managed to survive being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi — and he’s pissed. They’re not saying how they’re going to do it yet, but come Spring 2012, you’ll see for yourself on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Special sneak peek after the jump.
To say that Darth Maul was the most engaging thing about The Phantom Menace would be an understatement. His seething presence, acrobatic fighting skills, and striking appearance made him the film’s breakout character. But most fans were disappointed to find that he was only in a handful of scenes, and got just three lines in the movie. But every time we saw him, things got a lot more exciting. His vicious duels at the end of the movie were the only times Liam Neeson and Ewan MacGregor were allowed to step out of the wooden acting required of them for the rest of the movie and, you know, emote. Like actual human beings.
Maul should never have been killed off, in my opinion. He should have been the Darth Vader of the prequel trilogy — a constant, terrifying threat always hunting our heroes down with vengeance. (Sorry George, but no amount of visual effects will ever convince me that Christopher Lee is a better fighter than Ray Park.)
So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Lucasfilm is bringing this fan-favorite character back. His return was teased in an episode in the latter half of last season, after all. I’m sure there will be some backlash, but I should think that a dose of Maul might be just what’s needed to bring even more viewers to The Clone Wars. What’s interesting and different about this move, compared to recent appearances by other movie characters such as Chewbacca, Tarkin, and Ackbar, is that we know what later becomes of them. As a character who was believed dead, Maul’s reappearance is a blank canvas, so his ultimate fate can be whatever the Clone Wars producers want.
That galaxy far, far away is a big one, so it’s not inconceivable that all that advanced technology combined with Maul’s pure, unadulterated hate (manifested through the power of the Dark Side) could provide some way for him to survive. But there can be no doubt that he’ll be changed. Is he just the top half of his former self? Has he been stitched back together somehow, or maybe given artificial legs? We’ll find out next Spring.
I just hope they don’t bring him back to only kill him off again after a three-episode story arc. He deserves better. If I had my way, he’d become a constant menace, weaving throughout the rest of the series, and ultimately he’d be the one who kills Ahsoka, leading to the mother of all rematches against Obi-Wan and Anakin in the series finale. (We know Ahsoka has to die soonish, ’cause she’s not in Revenge of the Sith.)
Never one to overlook an opportunity for franchise synchronicity, Lucasfilm has given Darth Maul the big focus of the poster for the 3D reissue of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in theaters (which you can see below). Note that in that poster, there’s no Liam Neeson, no Natalie Portman, and no Jake Lloyd. Hmm. That movie, by the way, will arrive February 10, 2012. The trailer for The Phantom Menace in 3D is being attached to The Three Musketeers, in theaters October 21st, though I’m sure it will appear online not long after.