The Star Wars History Of Darth Maul, From Cut In Half To Crime Lord
The Sith that wouldn't quit.
Darth Maul only has three lines in all of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He appears on screen for a mere six minutes. He doesn't do much more than ambush the Jedi in the desert, duel with them in the Theed Royal Palace, and die. That's it. Heck, even Boba Fett got his own animated cameo and a hard-to-get action figure to build the mystique before he was sacrificed to the sarlacc.
And yet, with his distinctive facial tattoos and signature double-bladed lightsaber, Darth Maul was simply too cool--and too popular--to get rid of so easily, and die-hard Star Wars fans know that Maul's story didn't begin or end on Naboo in 1999. These days, Maul is much more than the Emperor's former right-hand man. He's a major Star Wars villain in his own right. Here's how he got that way.
Be warned, though--spoilers for various Star Wars spin-offs, including a few recent ones, follow.
1. Darth Maul's fall from grace
Just in case you need a refresher: Darth Maul is Darth Sidious's apprentice in The Phantom Menace. You know the quiet fellow, a member of the horned Zabrak race, who fights against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in one of the series' all-time best lightsaber duels? Yeah, that guy. Unfortunately, in Episode I, Darth Maul doesn't last long. He manages to kill Qui-Gon, but before the movie ends Obi-Wan slices him in half, and the last time that we see Maul on the big screen he's careening down a reactor shaft in two separate pieces. By all indications, he looked dead, but we'd soon learn, that wasn't exactly the case.
2. A not-so-happy childhood
In order to fully understand Maul's story, you need to know how it began. Before Darth Maul served Sidious, he lived on the planet Dathomir, where he was raised by his mother, a powerful Force user named Talzin. While Talzin was originally slated to be Sidious's apprentice, the future Emperor reneged on the deal when he saw Maul's potential. Talzin never forgave him. Sidious kidnapped Maul and began to train him, while Talzin became Mother of the Nightsisters, an order of Force-wielding witches (and a big part of The Clone Wars animated series) and had two more sons, Feral and Savage Opress.
3. From Sith lord to junk lord
If Anakin Skywalker can survive a fall into molten lava, a minor injury like getting cut in half shouldn't be a problem for a Sith like Maul. It wasn't. The compendium Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know tells us that, as he fell, Maul used the Force to grab onto an air shaft, made his way to a dumpster, and ended up on a trash planet called Lotho Minor. He lived there for ten years, scuttling around on mechanical spider legs and preying on the local citizenry.
4. Mommy makes it all better
As the Clone Wars raged on, Savage Opress went looking for his brother. In the Clone Wars episode "Brothers," Savage finds him. By the time that Savage shows up, however, Maul is half-crazed and doesn't know his own name (Obi-Wan's, of course, he remembers just fine). Opress takes Maul back to Dathomir, and in the episode "Revenge," Mother Talzin restores Maul's mind, gives him some new robot legs, and sends him out to find Obi-Wan and exact his revenge.
5. The (other) revenge of the Sith
After naming Savage his apprentice, Maul embarks on an interstellar road trip, causing mayhem around the galaxy in an attempt to get Obi-Wan's attention. Along the way, Maul also puts together a small army of pirates, creating his own cartel. By the time that the Clone Wars episode "Revival" ends, however, things aren't looking quite so rosy for the Zabrak siblings: During a fight against Obi-Wan, Savage loses his arm and Maul loses a leg, their pirate allies betray them (because, duh, they're pirates), and both brothers end up stranded on an escape pod with dangerously little oxygen.
6. Some unexpected allies
In the Clone Wars episode "Eminence," help arrives in the form of some disgraced Mandalorians (i.e. the people who made Boba Fett's cool-looking armor) who call themselves the Death Watch. After the Death Watch heals him and his brother, Maul offers to help the Mandalorians retake their home planet. If common enemies like Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, and Darth Sidious die along the way? All the better.
7. A criminal enterprise, take two
Conquering a planet requires more than just a couple Mandalorians, however. Maul needs an army. Thankfully, he knows just where to find one. Using his natural charm and a wee bit of violence, Maul combines the Black Sun, Pyke, and Hutt cartels into a single syndicate and calls it the Shadow Collective. After liberating Mandalore, Maul says, he'll lord over a new criminal empire with help from both his gangsters and his Death Watch allies.
8. How to conquer a planet, the Darth Maul way
In "Shades of Reason," Maul and his army of thugs attack Mandalore, undermining the current ruler's authority. It works, and soon the Death Watch leader Pre Vizsla rules the planet. That's when things get messy. Vizsla betrays Maul and sends him to prison, but Maul escapes and kills Vizsla with the Darksaber, an energy blade that traditionally belongs to the Death Watch's head honcho. Maul claims the Darksaber for his own and installs a puppet government on Mandalore, establishing a home base that the Shadow Collective can use as it grows and conquers.
9. Maul finally gets Obi-Wan's attention--and someone else's
Obi-Wan Kenobi heads to Mandalore to save the planet's rightful ruler (and his would-be girlfriend), Duchess Satine Kryze, in "Lawless." As far as rescue missions go, it's a bust. Maul makes Obi-Wan watch as he uses the Darksaber to kill Satine, then sentences the Jedi to life in prison. Rogue members of the Death Watch help Obi-Wan escape, however, while Maul's continued reign of terror ends up attracting the attention of his old master, Darth Sidious. The Darth travels to Mandalore and murders Savage Opress but doesn't kill Maul; as Sidious explains, he has other plans for his former apprentice.
10. Maul vs. Dooku, round one
The Clone Wars didn't get a chance to finish its Maul arc, so the show's producers decided to fill in the blanks with a comic book series. In Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, Darth Sidious reveals that he plans to use Maul to lure Mother Talzin out of the shadows, while Sidious' new apprentice, Count Dooku, wants to take over the Shadow Collective. Over the course of the miniseries, Maul escapes captivity and defeats Dooku, but before Maul can convince the count to abandon Sidious and join him, the Republic attacks. Dooku and Maul team up to beat their common foe, but must flee after they're outmatched by a Jedi strike team.
11. The end of the Shadow Collective
In Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #4, Maul takes Dooku to Dathomir to meet Talzin, just like Darth Sidious planned. As Separatist forces bombard the Nightsisters' homeworld, Maul faces off against Sidious. It doesn't end well. During the conflict, Mother Talzin dies and the Shadow Collective suffers heavy losses. Unwilling to make more sacrifices to support Maul's personal vendettas, the heads of the galaxy's crime families terminate their alliance. With the Shadow Collective in shambles and Dathomir in the hands of the Separatists, Maul retreats to Mandalore.
12. Mandalore lost
Maul remains ruler of Mandalore until the very last day of the Clone Wars, when he's beaten by Anakin Skywalker's former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. In the novel Ahsoka, the fan-favorite character reflects on the battle: during the siege of Mandalore, the Republic forces have Maul dead-to-rights, but Ahsoka must decide between rescuing her friend, the clone trooper Rex, and finishing Darth Maul off for good. She chooses Rex, and in the confusion, Maul escapes.
Warning: If you want to avoid Solo: A Star Wars Story spoilers, skip the next slide!
13. Third time's the charm?
The loss of Mandalore and the rise of the Empire doesn't end Maul's unlawful ambitions. While most of the story has yet to be told, by the time that Solo happens (around ten years before Episode IV: A New Hope), Maul is running his third criminal enterprise, the mysterious Crimson Dawn. Using his previous experience as head of the Shadow Collective, Maul runs Crimson Dawn from his hideout on Dathomir, while the gangster Dryden Vos serves as the syndicate's public face.
14. You know what they say about "all good things…"
We don't know how Maul's time with Crimson Dawn comes to a close, but we know that it does eventually. In Star Wars Rebels' second season, the Ghost's crew finds Maul on Malachor, where he's searching for an ancient Sith superweapon. In season 3, Maul uses Rebels' Jedi-in-training Ezra Bridger to track Obi-Wan Kenobi to Tatooine. There, Maul confronts Kenobi one final time, giving Obi-Wan the chance to finish the job that he started 30 years earlier. He takes it, and Maul's story comes to an end.