WARNING: This will contain spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story. If you have not yet seen the movie and don’t want to get spoiled then leave this post for later.
So last night I finally went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story for a second time. I was going with a family member who is a big fan of the films but hasn’t really experienced the wider canon media and stories. As I’d been expecting, the reveal of Maul as the leader of Crimson Dawn did not take long to come up in conversation after the film, with him asking how that worked. I’m sure he’s not the only fan left thinking that as to anyone who has only watched the movies he died at the end of The Phantom Menace after being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Though this may be Maul’s first appearance on the big screen since then, his story has been expanded in other canon material, which gives some background to his life and activities after the Battle of Naboo. So I thought I would put together a quick summary of where you can find Maul’s story outside of the films in the first Character History. My intention with this is not to tell you exactly what happened but give you a quick overview of his story and tell you where you can find it to experience it fully. Of course there will be some slight spoilers to the stories within this but I will try to keep them relatively mild.
Comic:- Star Wars: Darth Maul
This 5-part comic book is set before The Phantom Menace and tells part of Maul’s story before the events of the movies. This story shows us parts of his training, including the development of his hate for the Jedi and his desire for revenge.We also get to see him interacting with a number of bounty hunters and also his first encounter with a Jedi.
Film:- The Phantom Menace
After Queen Amidala is tracked to Tatooine following her escape from Naboo, Darth Maul is sent to the planet to bring her back. He engages Qui-Gon Jinn in single combat, but he Jedi escapes on the Queen’s ship.
“At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.”
When she returns to Naboo to take on the Trade Federation, Darth Maul is sent to bolster the Federation’s forces and take on the Jedi. During the Battle of Theed, he confronts Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. He defeats Qui-Gon but Obi-Wan defeated him and he was cut in half at the waist, falling into a reactor shaft and it seemed that his story had come to an end.
TV:- The Clone Wars
A 3-episode arc in the middle of Season 3 focuses on the creation of a new Sith apprentice, Savage Opress, who was a member of the same clan of Dathomirian Zabraks as Maul. Though Darth Maul is not directly involved in this story, the final episode of the arc “Witches of the Mist” sees Savage sent by Mother Talzin (the leader of the Nightsisters) to find his brother and we see a familiar-looking face teased in the orb he is looking at.
Season 4 ends with the episodes “Brothers” and “Revenge”. Savage tracks Darth Maul down on the junk world Lotho Minor. Darth Maul is deranged and has a robotic lower half, but it is revealed in his ramblings that his hatred and desire for revenge led to him using the Dark side of the Force to cling to life. The brothers return to Dathomir where Mother Talzin uses Nightsister magicks to return Maul’s sanity and replace his robotic lower half with new cybernetic legs. During “Revenge” and the Season 5 opener “Revival”, Darth Maul comes face-to-face with his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Darth Maul’s final appearances in the show come in the Season 5 episodes “Eminence”, “Shades of Reason” and “The Lawless”. Darth Maul and Savage join up with the Mandalorian terrorists Death Watch, who are intent on taking control of Mandalore back from Duchess Satine Kryze – a close friend of Obi-Wan. Maul forms the Shadow Collective, an organisation and army containing Death Watch, the Hutt Cartel, Black Sun and the Pyke Syndicate – some of the most prominent criminal organisations in the galaxy. The Shadow Collective takes control of Mandalore, but the leader of Death Watch betrays the brothers. Darth Maul challenges him to a duel and his victory leads to him becoming leader of Death Watch, though one of the lieutenants – Bo-Katan – chooses to flee and is followed by a number of loyal soldiers. Obi-Wan comes to Mandalore to rescue Satine and comes in front of his nemesis again with shocking results (I’m being deliberately vague here so as not to spoil anything for you if you want to go watch the show). Obi-Wan escapes from Death Watch with the help of Bo-Katan and her forces as the Mandalorian Civil War erupts around him. The brothers’ exploits have caught the attention of Darth Sidious, who personally comes to Mandalore and defeats them, taking his former apprentice prisoner.
The next couple of stories were intended to be featured in later series of The Clone Wars, however the show was cancelled before these stories could make it to the screen. Supervising director Dave Filoni has spoken of some of the planned story arcs at Star Wars Celebration and some have made their way into other canon media. Anything in yellow has not been shown in canon so is subject to change, but has been described as an intended part of the initial story by Dave Filoni or is speculation by myself using the evidence available.
From here on, Maul is no longer a Sith, while he is still a Force-user devoted to the Dark side, he no longer follows the philosophies of the Sith.
Comic:- Star Wars: Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir
Maul is rescued from imprisonment by the Shadow Collective, but as the Separatists take an interest in their forces and take the fight to them the Shadow Collective begins to fall apart, eventually leaving only Death Watch with their leader. Darth Maul is used by Darth Sidious to lead the Sith Lord to Mother Talzin and when it becomes clear that Sidious and Dooku are too strong she sacrifices herself to buy time for Darth Maul and the remaining members of Death Watch to escape.
With the Shadow Collective broken and many of their bases now under Separatist control, Maul returned to Mandalore with the remainder of his forces. Bo-Katan informed the Republic of his return and the 501st Legion were sent to Mandalore, joined by Ahsoka Tano. As they prepared to do battle, Anakin and Obi-Wan were called back to Coruscant to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (the events of which we see at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith). Ahsoka remained on Mandalore and Anakin left a portion of the 501st with her, including Captain Rex. Ahsoka battled Maul and was able to capture him with the help of the clones, though he was able to escape as Order 66 caused the clones to turn against Ahsoka. Some of these moments are shown in flashbacks, along with other references to the events in E.W. Johnston’s novel Ahsoka, which also states that Ahsoka had the chance to kill Maul or save Rex and chose the latter.
Film:- Solo: A Star Wars Story
After this, there is currently very little known of Maul’s doings following the rise of the Empire. The prologue of Solo: A Star Wars Story is set 13 years before A New Hope and the criminal organisation Crimson Dawn is said to be in place by this point. Towards the end of the film (set 3 years later) it is revealed that the leader of Crimson Dawn is none other than Maul, though it is not yet clear if he crated the organisation or took over them at a later date. My personal feeling is that he was involved in their formation as this would explain the name referring to the crimson colour of his lightsaber blade. As I noted during my spoiler review of the movie, Maul is by this point using a lightsaber that appears similar to those used by the Imperial Inquisitors. Though there is nothing yet to confirm it, I would imagine this means Maul has had a run-in with at least 1 Inquisitor in the past, with fatal results for the Imperial.
And that brings us up to the point of Maul’s dramatic reveal in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where he appears in hologram form as Qi’ra informs him of Dryden Vos’ death at the hands of “Tobias Beckett”. Maul tells her they will be working closer in the future and orders her to meet him on Dathomir.
But that is not quite the end of Maul’s character history. Maul appears as a recurring character in Seasons 2 & 3 of the TV show Rebels. With the show still being so recent I do not want to go into much detail at all for fear of spoiling some of the best episodes in the show’s run. What I will say though is that by this point, Maul appears to be on his own, but he does still have a retreat on Dathomir and takes advantage of one of the Death Watch bases he used in Son of Dathomir.
Maul works as an antagonist for the crew of the Ghost, but there are also a couple of moments where he allies himself with the Rebels for his own personal gain.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and now understand Maul’s return a little bit better. Hopefully some people will choose to watch the animated shows to see more of Maul’s story (he is voiced wonderfully by Sam Witwer, who also voices him in Solo and Star Wars Battlefront II). While I have specified the episodes including Maul in the Clone Wars, there are certainly some moments in these episodes that will carry more weight if you have watched the show through as a whole.
Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you…