From the moment he appeared in the trailer to "The Phantom Menace" igniting his double-bladed lightsaber, the Sith Lord Darth Maul has become an iconic part of the "Star Wars" universe. He introduced audiences everywhere to a new style of lightsaber fighting that was so cool it redefined how "Star Wars" approached lightsaber duels. As awesome as Darth Vader was in the original trilogy, all we saw him fight was an old man and a hastily trained kid with some raw talent. Maul took on the real deal and did it with ferocity.
But Maul is more than flashy saber moves. His single-minded thirst for combat and his later quest for vengeance have made him one of the most feared and interesting villains of the saga. With the new "Star Wars: Darth Maul" comic debuting, we thought it was the perfect time to look at why he's the best villain of the saga.
15 HE KILLED A JEDI MASTER
Most people balk at the idea of fighting one Jedi, let alone two. But Darth Maul is not most people. He willingly took on Qui-Gon Jinn, a seasoned Jedi Master, and his energetic apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi during Queen Amidala’s counter invasion of Theed on Naboo. Using a rare double-bladed lightsaber, he kept both Jedi out of the fighting and lured them into the Theed Plasma Refinery Complex.
Not only did Maul hold the Jedi off for what was at least an hour, but also he actually managed to separate them. He used the division to his advantage and stabbed Qui-Gon through the chest, taking out the more experienced combatant first. After a furious fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was incredibly close to winning after he pushed the Padawan down a long shaft. However, Obi-Wan managed to escape and defeat Maul, but the battle took a heavy cost on his life that would lead him to train Anakin Skywalker.
14 HE SURVIVED BEING CUT IN HALF
At the end of "The Phantom Menace," Darth Maul was cut in two by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Then he fell down what appeared to be an endless shaft. What happened just after that is anyone's guess, but we do know that Maul survived. Compare that to the hundreds we've seen cut down from lightsabers in the films. Unless you lost a limb, the typical outcome is that you're as dead as dead can be.
But not Darth Maul, no. That guy took a considerable licking that separated him from his legs and he kept on ticking like a time bomb. The point is, indescribable pain and body mutilation simply won't stop this guy. The best you can do is just get out of his way, but if what he wants is you, then you're in for some real trouble. No matter what you do, eventually he's just going to keep coming back.
13 THE EMPEROR TRAINED HIM FROM CHILDHOOD
Unlike the other Sith Lords we've seen on screen, Darth Maul is the one guy who was trained in the ways of the Sith from childhood. After Darth Sidious claimed Maul as his own, he personally applied Sith tattoos to his flesh in an agonizing process. In the Expanded Universe, Maul was trained on Mustafar, which meant his backyard was a deathtrap filled with lava and ash. He was trained in agility, combat, and utter ruthlessness. His only companions were training droids that honed his skills and reflexes.
When he was old enough, Sidious sent Maul to an assassin academy on Orsis where he learned how to fight and kill without the aid of the Force. By the time he was 17, Maul was a living weapon fueled by nothing but anger and hatred. This upbringing gave Maul a fundamental understanding of the Dark Side that many other Sith Lords, including Darth Vader, lack.
12 HIS PEOPLE LITERALLY RIDE RANCORS
In the "Clone Wars" animated series, we learned that Darth Maul is from Dathomir: a harsh planet filled with some real nightmare inducing stuff. This is a place where the women ride Rancors, that giant monster that Jabba sent after Luke in "Return of the Jedi," for fun. It's also home to a powerful Force cult called the Nightsisters, who are so badass that even the Jedi know to stay away from them. Before he was one year old, he was given his first tattoos by a women so powerful that even Darth Sidious gave her a wide berth.
Compare that with Anakin Skywalker, who grew up (admittedly a slave) in a small town in Tatooine. Sure it was tough there, but Anakin had a home, a mother, and the resources to build a podracer. When Darth Maul was a kid, his skin was mutilated before he was sent off to join the most evil man in the universe.
11 HE KNOWS FORCE MAGIC
One of the advantages of being from Dathomir is that Maul knows more about the Force than a simple Jedi or Sith. He was exposed to the unique fringe magic the Nightsisters practice that can yield many strange results. The most useful of these has been the ability to look into the Force for answers. The Nightsisters can drink special potions and call on spirits to guide them in their quests, which is exactly what Maul attempts in "Star Wars Rebels."
Together with Ezra, Maul partakes in a ritual to sort out the vision they had from a joint Holocron experience. The ritual is successful, giving Maul the location of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the means to complete his revenge. No other Jedi or Sith has dared used these spells, but Maul's upbringing and drive gave him the conviction to try even the most taboo spell to accomplish his fiendish goals.
10 HE'S COMPLETELY FOCUSED ON REVENGE
Having all your life plans completely discarded and losing your legs in one swipe of a lightsaber can do a lot to a guy. In some cases, if can drive you completely insane. In other cases, it can give you focus. With Maul, it was a little bit of both. The former Sith Lord spent a decade on a junkyard world as a raving madman, completely obsessed with the destruction of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Eventually, when his brother rescued him from his own madness, Maul made it his life mission to ruin Obi-Wan. That mission led to him killing the love of Kenobi's life.
Even almost two decades later, after the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, Darth Maul is still focused on destroying his enemies. He wants the Emperor dead for leaving him behind, so much so that Maul even braved an ancient Sith temple for the strength to see his plans through.
9 HE BECAME THE LEADER OF THE MANDALORIANS
For thousands of years, the Mandalorians were known as the finest warriors in the universe. In fact, they would have destroyed the Republic if it weren't for the tactical prowess of Darth Revan. After the Mandalorian Wars ended, however, they were scattered to the winds and became a series of disconnected clans. Those clans, however, were still a force to be reckoned with. Both Jango and Boba Fett proved that even during the twilight of the Republic, Mandalorians were worthy of fear and adoration.
When Darth Maul decided to take control of the scattered clans and wage a war on the galaxy, that meant he was able to unite a race of warriors who hadn't been able to get along for thousands of years. He didn't do it through diplomacy, either. Instead, he accomplished this impossible feat through sheer determination and force of will (and by killing the current leader). He then became the first true Mandalorian warlord in generations with a fighting force that could take entire planets.
8 HE'S ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN HANDLE A DOUBLE-BLADED LIGHTSABER
Lightsabers are actually really difficult to wield. It's been said when the blade is on there's a gyroscopic effect that makes it hard to control. You can see it in the original trilogy as Luke struggles to fight Darth Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back." That kid is hanging on for dear life with a weapon he barely knows how to use. Well, in the prequel trilogy that all changes. We see the Jedi and Sith in their heyday, using their blades like true masters.
But the guy that puts them all to shame is Darth Maul. Sure, Anakin and Obi-Wan show some pretty impressive swordplay skills during the Clone Wars, but Darth Maul uses a double-bladed lightsaber to fight two Jedi at the same time while making it look easy. From the first frame of him lighting up his second blade to his appearances in the Clone Wars, Darth Maul fighting with a double-bladed lightsaber has become one of the defining icons of the saga.
7 HE FOUGHT THE EMPEROR AND LIVED
Luke Skywalker was our hero in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. He blew up the Death Star and defeated the dreaded Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. But when it came time to face the Emperor, Luke lasted a grand total of two seconds before he was a convulsing mess on the ground begging his daddy for help. Even a handful of Jedi Masters got slaughtered by Palpatine when they came to arrest him in "Revenge of the Sith." So when Maul takes on his old master in a lightsaber duel and actually manages to survive, that's a big deal.
Now, the exact way he survives is unknown. He did lose the battle and the Emperor let him live only for him to later return in "Star Wars Rebels." Still, being someone who survived a fight with the Emperor puts him in the same club as Jedi Master Yoda, which is a pretty exclusive club to be in.
6 HE GAVE HIMSELF METAL LEGS
We don't know if Maul even went to a medical facility after he was sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he somehow managed to give himself a way to walk. However, these weren't just any legs, they were creepy spider-like appendages he had forged on a junkyard planet. There wasn't an explanation for how they worked, but it's probably a safe bet to assume they were somehow controlled by Maul's Force abilities. After he was brought to the Nightsisters, they reformed his legs into a slicker bi-pedal set up.
He uses these legs to great effect in battle, delivering devastating kicks that can incapacitate his enemies. They can also be used to grab and throw people pretty substantial distances. While it makes more sense just to slice them up with a lightsaber, this new revenge-fueled Maul is a big fan of playing with his food. After years in a junkyard on the brink of madness... it's hard to blame him for wanting to have some fun.
5 HE WIELDS THE DARKSABER
While we'll always associate Maul with his red double-bladed lightsaber, the character has clearly proven himself to be adaptable over the years. After being restored to sanity and fighting shape, he used a single red blade while plotting his revenge against the enemies that had wronged him. When he decided it was time to take control of the Mandalorians of Death Watch, that meant it was time to fight their leader Pre Vizla in single combat.
Pre Vizla used the mythical black lightsaber known as the Darksaber, a blaster, and a ton of explosives while fighting Maul. But all of Vizla's toys were no match for a fully trained Sith warrior. Maul killed him, took the sword, and claimed Mandalore for himself. That fight would have reverberations across Mandalorian politics for decades, but it also meant Maul had a really spiffy black lightsaber to take into combat. The Darksaber carried over to "Star Wars Rebels" where it fell into the hands of Sabine Wren.
4 HE CAN TRACK PEOPLE ACROSS THE GALAXY
If there's one pretty massive plot hole in "The Phantom Menace," it's that they really don't give much of a logical reason to explain how Darth Maul was able to track down the Queen's ship after it runs the Naboo blockade. There were no clues that would point to it having to set down on Tatooine, and yet Darth Maul tracks it down and assaults Qui-Gon just before the good guys can make their escape.
How is Maul able to find them? Basically, the movie's only explanation is that he's a Sith and the Sith have the prowess to find a needle in a galaxy-wide haystack. That's right, Darth Maul doesn't need any leads or evidence. The guy is just so awesome he can look at a galactic map, point to the right planet and say "they went here." That, friends, is the kind of henchman you want working for you when you're trying to achieve galactic domination.
3 HE TOOK OVER AN ENTIRE PLANET
Even though the Star Wars universe is full of habitable worlds, it still takes a lot of resources to take one over. Even the Empire got tired of subjugating entire planets, so they invented the Death Star to scare the galaxy into playing nice so its inhabitants would be easier to rule. Maul, on the other hand, claimed the right to lead Mandalore after taking over Death Watch. Sure, there was some resistance, but Maul's people had them fleeing the planet within minutes. After that, it was only a simple matter of installing a puppet government to rule the people.
Maul even took the opportunity to inject a little misery into Obi-Wan Kenobi's life. After he discovered Kenobi was on the planet, Maul killed the woman he loved right in front of him and then threw the Jedi in a cell to stew in his own misery. That there is a pretty complete victory.
2 HE BECAME THE LEADER OF THE BLACK SUN
In the popular Expanded Universe novel "Shadows of the Empire," Black Sun is described as a crime syndicate so powerful even the Emperor himself respects their business. It's an organization that has its fingers in every bit of the galaxy's infrastructure, from rich bureaucrats to slimy bounty hunters. So naturally, Darth Maul just decided to take the whole enterprise over after he pulled every Mandalorian warrior into his fold.
How did Maul accomplish this monumental feat? He strode in with his posse and had almost the entire ruling counsel of Black Sun decapitated. He then offered the survivor a choice to join them. After careful consideration, he was all for it. Thus, Maul got access to a huge chunk of the galaxy's underworld to add to her own personal army. It just goes to show you that with enough confidence and homicidal tendencies, you can get just about anything done.
1 HE BROKE OUT OF THE GALAXY'S TOUGHEST PRISON
In the Expanded Universe book "Darth Maul: Lockdown," Maul is tasked with infiltrating an infamous prison station and contact an arms manufacturer. He was taken as a prisoner and was unable to use his Force powers to fight back because it would reveal his connection to the Sith. He was then placed in a prison fighting ring where he had to fight a Yuuzhan Vong warrior, a Wampa and several other combatants in fights to the death. Remember: he had to do all this without the use of his Force powers.
Of course, Maul eventually did locate his target and escape the prison. However, Maul was supposed to obtain a nuclear device from him, but he had to set it off inside the prison while making his escape. Therefore, the mission may not have been a complete success, but Maul can claim that he not only broke out of the prison, but he also nuked it too.
Be sure to let us know in the comments what you think makes Darth Maul the most badass of the Sith!