though poorly received, star wars episode i: the phantom menace gave us a few gems, one of them being the mysterious former sith apprentice, darth maul. he said very little but his tattoos and rage intrigued us. that's how he was able to survive for so long in the franchise and why, despite removing a multitude of popular characters, the new canon kept him alive. who was he? was he always that evil? those questions and more were answered over time through comics and tv shows, resulting in a villainous dark jedi with an even darker backstory.
long time, dedicated fans of the franchise are likely savvy to most, if not all of the facts below, but for those who were only able to get a brief look at the sith apprentice in his film debut, these dark facts may shock you. you'll see that darth maul isn't the simple villain you might have thought he was. you may even find in the end that you sympathize with him just a little bit and you'll walk away understanding how powerful and indeed tragic the dark side of the force really is. here are 15 dark secrets you never knew about darth maul.
15 he didn't join the sith by choice
if you thought that darth maul was just another former jedi who sought power and decided to join the sith, think again. darth maul was never a jedi. in fact, maul was only a little boy when darth sidious took him from his birth planet of dathomir, as was revealed in star wars: darth maul - son of dathomir #3 (written by jeremy barlow, illustrated by juan frigeri and others).
sidious recognized the incredible potential in the boy and stole him away from his family to train him in the ways of the sith, turning a little zabrak boy into a lethal, bloodthirsty killer. it's something that maul has always despised the emperor for doing, despite his appreciation for the power his mastery of the dark side affords him.
14 maul's mother led a coven of witches
dathomir is home to a clan of force-sensitive witches who use the planet's dark force energy to perform incredible feats. these women are known as the nightsisters and they were once led by mother talzin, a woman who once shared her knowledge of the dark side with darth sidious. the two were partners of sorts until sidious found talzin's son, a young maul.
talzin was betrayed by sidious. he had initially promised to make her his apprentice, but that changed when sidious stole her young son away from her. thanks to her magic abilities, she was able to keep an eye on maul and after many long years, was able to work with him to gain some small measure of vengeance against sidious and his forces.
13 his training was cruel
as if being abducted from his home wasn't enough, maul was forced to endure sidious' cruel training regiment. learning how to become an acrobatic, dual-lightsaber wielding jedi hunter wasn't enough. sidious needed maul to truly hate the jedi and embrace the dark side. to that end, he took a young maul to malachor, as maul remembered in star wars: darth maul, part ii (written by cullen bunn, art by luke ross and more).
there, maul was shown a great battle between the jedi and the sith before sidious forced his young apprentice to inhale the ashes of fallen sith warriors. after doing so, maul was subjected to every wound and defeat those sith warrior had ever experienced because of the jedi. thousands of the wounds and thousands of deaths embedded a hatred for the jedi that remain with maul for the rest of his life.
12 his insatiable bloodlust
after embracing the dark side, maul developed a bloodlust that he could not satisfy, especially since sidious wanted his existence to be kept a secret from the jedi until the time was right. this meant that, despite a thirst for sith vengeance, maul was forbidden from hunting the jedi, as he was trained to do.
eager to feed maul's lethal desires, sidious sent him to hunt rathtars and pirates on twon ketee. while on this hunt, maul discovered a jedi padawan by the name of eldra kaitis. against sidious' wishes, maul hunted her down to test his skills against the jedi. he found her and after fighting by her side, he killed her. she was the first of many jedi knights who would fall to darth maul.
11 he went insane
darth maul seemingly met his end in the phantom menace when obi-wan cut him in half in retaliation for slaying his master, qui-gon jinn. you'd think that that would pretty but ensure the end of maul's story, but no. he fell and landed in a garbage chute where he was transported to another planet. somehow, despite being cut in half and falling down a shaft, maul found the will to sustain himself long enough to survive until he was able to put together a temporary spider-like replacement for his legs on lotho minor, a junkyard planet.
he spent years in almost complete isolation, surviving on scraps that morley, an anacondan, would bring him. his sanity quickly deteriorated as that rage consumed him. he thought of nothing but the jedi and his hatred of obi-wan kenobi.
10 he became the head of a crime syndicate
after maul was found by his brother on lotho minor, he travelled across the galaxy, searching for vengeance. he and his brother were found my death watch. a criminal gang. maul and the nefarious savage opress fought alongside them for a time, spreading their influence throughout the gang until they were able to use them to recruit criminal leaders of the black sun gang from mustafar and the pykes from oba diah.
they amassed an army and used them to invade and conquer mandalore where pre vizsla and maul dueled for the right to rule death watch. after a lengthy battle, pre vizsla was executed by maul, cementing the sith lord's role as the leader of one of the galaxy's largest criminal syndicate: the shadow collective.
9 he killed obi-wan's only love
long ago, when obi-wan was still qui-gon's apprentice, he was sent with his master to protect duchess satine kryze while the mandalorian civil war raged on. the two slowly developed feelings for one another. obi-wan revealed that he would have left the jedi order if she'd asked him. unfortunately, they were both committed to their duties and satine left to rebuild mandalore though they would see each other quite a few times after.
towards the end of the clone wars, darth maul and his brother, savage opress, raised a sizeable force with help from various crime families and invaded mandalore. maul became mandalore's ruler and captured satine, forcing obi-wan to come the rescue. he arrived and freed satine but the two were recaptured before they could escape. maul saw seized this opportunity for revenge and force choked satine before impaling her with his darksaber, allowing her to die in obi-wan's arms, as shown in the star wars: the clone wars episode, "the lawless" (written by chris collins).
8 he got his brother killed
savage opress was another of mother talzin's sons to undergo training to become a sith. he was first picked as a mate for the dathomirian, asajj ventress, then after being physically and mentally augmented through nightsister magick, he became a sith apprentice under count dooku during the clone wars before mother talzin finally sent him to find his long lost brother on lotho minor.
darth maul made savage opress his sith apprentice and the two terrorized the outer rim worlds together before conquering mandalore. their reign garnered the attention of maul's former master, darth sidious, who saw them as a threat, causing him to personally travel to mandalore to deal with them. sidious fought the two brothers and managed to kill savage opress and force maul into submission.
7 he never stopped seeking sidious' approval
having taken maul as a young boy, sidious effectively raised him to be the powerful sith lord that he was. it's understandable that maul would develop a hidden desire to win sidious' approval, even after the two became enemies. that much is clear with almost every interaction the two sith lords have with one another.
a perfect example of this is in the star wars: the clone wars episode, "the lawless" when darth sidious arrives on mandalore to confront maul and savage opress. it's not immediately obvious but during the ensuing battle, right after sidious kills opress, he taunts maul by saying that he was an unworthy apprentice and that he was replaced, causing maul to attack. if you look at maul's behavior, you'll see how, despite possessing a seething hatred for sidious, he also recognizes his former master's power and respects that greatly.
6 he tried to make ezra his apprentice
over the years, maul lost the shadow collective, his mother and the fight against the emperor. ever the relentless sith lord, maul travelled to malachor in search of a weapon. his ship crashed and he found himself stranded on the planet for years until the crew of the ghost travelled to malachor in search of a way to defeat the inquisitors and the sith.
in the star wars: rebels episode, "twilight of the apprentice" (written by dave filoni and others), a member of the crew, ezra bridger, becomes trapped underground after a battle with the eighth brother. in that darkness, he encounters darth maul who introduces himself as "old master." he does not reveal himself or much about his past but he does reveal that it is his intention to destroy the sith. to that end, he fights alongside the ghost crew, slowly drawing ezra to the dark side. it would have worked, if not for ezra's dedication to his friends, though maul certainly left his mark on the young jedi apprentice.
5 he sought to destroy both the jedi and the sith
darth maul was forced to spend his whole life hating the jedi. he studied them, sought weaknesses in their philosophy and fighting styles, he trained to fight them and kill them and he was actually quite good at it. while his hatred for the jedi only intensified after his first encounter with obi-wan, maul began to hate the sith as well.
sidious had stolen him from his family as a young boy and was quick to replace him after his disappearance after star wars episode i: the phantom menace. maul hate the sith and their teachings but only because it was everything sidious was. in the end, all his hatred drove him to search for a way to end both the jedi and the sith, which is why he travelled to malachor in search of a superweapon that would destroy his former master's sith empire and the remnants of the jedi order both.
4 he died at the hands of obi-wan
though maul seemed to bear hatred for the vast majority of the world around him, there were few people he hated more than obi-wan kenobi. his rivalry with the jedi began when obi-wan was a padawan in star wars episode i: the phantom menace and ended with maul's death in the star wars: rebels episode, "twin suns" (written by dave filoni and henry gilroy).
led there by a vision he was given by the combined sith and jedi holocrons, maul found obi-wan on tatooine and engaged him in combat after deducing that the old jedi was there protecting someone. obi-wan defeated him quickly, and while maul lay dying in obi-wan's arms, the sith lord asked if it was the chosen one obi-wan was protecting, to which the jedi answered that it was. we can see how darth maul, like the jedi he hated, saw hope in the chosen one, hope that luke would bring balance to the force. in the end, all that hatred and rage caused him to hope for the same thing his arch-nemesis did: balance.
3 maul was originally an assassin
a lot of maul's backstory was kept intact after the reshuffling of the star wars canon. he was still a dathomirian-born zabrak, but according to star wars legends, he was the child of a nightsister named kycina. kycina, fearing her clan mother, mother talzin, gave maul to a younger darth sidious whom, at the time, was still the apprentice of darth plagueis. he saw potential in maul and trained him from the age of 10 to be an assassin.
for years, darth sidious used maul to eliminate a variety of targets from political opponents to merchants and all in secret, as shown in the now non-canon novel, star wars: the wrath of darth maul (written by ryder windham). maul's original story said a lot about darth sidious' intentions in what is now star wars legends. that is to say, he needed a powerful assassin, he never sought an actual apprentice like maul.
2 his greatest power was his hate
hate was instilled in maul when he was young boy and it was hate that kept him strong. he used it in battle and to survive. when you look back at his apparent demise in the phantom menace, you'll see that it was hate that kept him alive. it was hate for the jedi and hate for obi-wan.
rage and hatred led to maul's mastery of the dark side, to such an extent that he was able to best almost every opponent, including count dooku, general grievous, even obi-wan at one point. unfortunately, as with all sith, the hate that gave him power was also his greatest weakness. after all, it was because of his relentless hatred that he found himself alone in the end.
1 peter serafinowicz was incredibly disappointed with maul
although ray park was the one who got to don the tattoos and fight qui-gon and obi-wan in the phantom menace, it was peter serafinowicz who provided the character with his voice. initially, serafinowicz reported that he jumped at the chance to work on a star wars film, under the impression that his voice for darth maul might have done for the phantom menace what james earl jones' voice for darth vader did for the rest of the films.
of course, as we now know, darth maul says a whopping three lines in the entirety of the film and while serafinowicz does a great job at making maul sound evil, they aren't exactly quotable or in the slightest way, memorable. serafinowicz has expressed his disappointment numerous times with both the character and the film in general. to add insult to injury, the comedian and actor also reported that he was paid quite little for the role, "one of the worst-paying jobs" he has ever done.
what do you find most fascinating about the mysterious darth maul? let us know in the comments!