What We Should Be Getting
Vader’s robotic hand reaches out and futilely grasps another clump of ash as he attempts to drag what remains of his body away from the lava shore. His body, aching from burnt flesh and severed limbs, inches up the bank in a desperate hope that someone, anyone, will find him. Through his burnt ears, the fallen Sith Lord can barely make out the sound of footsteps marching towards him. Looking up, Vader’s seared retinas notice the outline of a figure towering over him. Is this apparition real or just a hallucination? The one thing he can see clearly, though, is this figure’s force aura, burning bright red.
So begins the standalone Star Wars story for Darth Maul, detailing his journey to track down and destroy the only force user to ever defeat him, Obi Wan Kenobi. At least it would be if we lived in an interesting universe. Instead, we’ll soon be force fed (pun somewhat intended) a heaping shit-burger of Soylent Solo.
Interestingly enough, if the early rumors are to be believed, Maul will make an appearance in the Solo movie, but I imagine it will only account to mere fan service. A simple trick to make the viewer think the movie is more epic than it is.
End Potential Spoiler
The beauty of a Darth Maul standalone is that it would give fans more of one of the few things they didn’t get enough of during the prequels, as well as serve as a vehicle for Obi Wan without having to focus a whole movie on him.
Sure, people are clamoring for more Ewan McGregor acting out how Obi Wan transformed into Old Ben, crazy old magician, but this is a dream best left denied.
While a standalone Obi Wan movie may seem logical, at least at this point while we unknowingly stare down the flaming barrel of Solo pointed at us under a cantina table, there’s only a minuscule chance that an entertaining movie could be made that wouldn’t either shoehorn in needless references or end up further contradicting the Original Trilogy.
In my fever and whiskey-induced vision for this film, it would begin with Maul finding the remains of Anakin on Mustafar only to hide in the shadows upon Palpatine’s arrival. From there, we jump forward a few years to find Maul has finally tracked Obi Wan to Tatooine.
For the rest of the movie, it plays out as a cat and mouse game. Every time Maul thinks he is about to finally confront his old nemesis, he’s greeted with another dead-end until the climactic battle takes place.
Of course, this is only a rough outline and a number of the finer plot points will need to be ironed out. However, if Lucasfilm chose this path, it would make for a far more interesting tale than showing us how Han first met Chewbacca. Fans would finally get an up close and personal look at Darth Maul, we would see his ruthlessness, but also his vulnerability. Maybe there will be flashbacks to his training under Darth Siddious. Maybe it just plays out like Heart of Darkness on Tatooine. At the very least, it would be interesting.
What We Got Instead
Sadly, any dream of such a movie happening was killed last year on Star Wars Rebels when fans finally got to see a canonical final showdown between Maul and Kenobi in the “Twin Suns” episode. The two bicker like a couple of jilted lovers and then have a very brief duel. Apologists will say it’s to show how Obi Wan has progressed as a swordsman, but it’s more likely they short changed this encounter in order to get back to Ezra and his crew shoving their thumbs up each other’s buttholes.
Thus ends the rebirth of Darth Maul that began in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and finally was put out of its misery here. These two cartoon series coasted on the desire to see more of this badass character we only glimpsed in Episode I, but it ended up being more of a fastball to the nuts rather than a home run.
A New (Old) Hope
The true tragedy of this story is that about ten years prior, a perfect tale detailing the same final meeting between the two was penned in the pages of Star Wars: Visionaries called “Old Wounds”. This version of the story takes place about 10 years earlier than it does in the Rebels episode.
This version of the story starts with Uncle Owen teaching a roughly four-year old Luke the finer parts of moisture farming as the suns set. From across the plains, Darth Maul runs up on his shiny new cybernetic legs and recounts what has led him to this location. Obi Wan rises up out of the sand like he just took a left turn at Albuquerque, and the two have a prequel level duel.
Eventually, Obi Wan gains the high ground and is prepared to deliver the killing blow. He wrestles between the light and the dark side, torn between which is the correct action. Before he can decide, though, Uncle Owen blows a glory hole sized hole in Maul’s cranium. Owen and Obi Wan have a tense interaction, and the fallen Jedi takes the corpse to bury in the Dune Sea or, for those who read between the line, do butt stuff with it.
Again, the final confrontation is pretty swift, but as the old saying goes, it’s the journey not the destination. The beauty of this comic is how Maul lists all the places where he came “this close” to catching up with the fallen Jedi Knight, taking the reader through a list of familiar locales and adding the idea that Maul was lurking somewhere in the background. It’s the Star Wars equivalent of picking out the Nibbler shadow in the first episode of Futurama.
Taking that bit of dialogue from the comic and spreading it out over a feature length film would be risky, and if there’s one thing The Mouse House is against its risk. Given the right script and director, though, the story of Maul’s search for Kenobi could show the vast potential for the Star Wars franchise while keeping the trappings the fans know and love. Instead of a rag-tag team of aliens, robots, and snarky humans, this would be an intimate journey through the eyes of the “bad guy” who by the end of the movie would have audiences tearing up as his funeral pyre burns on a star-filled Tatooine night.
Unfortunately, we all know that such a movie would have to showcase two males prominently without totally emasculating them or turning them into buffoons.
In today’s world, that is simply not possible.
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