One of the things that has most fans excited about the upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan show starring Ewan McGregor is the idea of seeing his version of “Old Ben” possibly square off one more time against his nemesis Darth Maul, as played by Ray Park. But could this even happen on the Disney+ series, given the official Star Wars canon timeline? Despite how it may appear on the surface, we argue that it can happen. And there’s a relatively simple way to do it. But first, we must dive into the history of this legendary rivalry.
The History of Kenobi vs. Maul
Obi-Wan and Maul first faced off in the epic conclusion to The Phantom Menace. Regardless of how one may feel about that movie, few can argue that it delivered one of the most incredible lightsaber battles in the entire saga. But when Darth Maul was sliced in half and left for dead, fans felt robbed of a great Star Wars villain and a rivalry that could have played out over several movies.
Well, the rivalry did get to play out…just not on the big screen. The animated Clone Wars and Rebels series resurrected Maul, and turned the Sith Lord from a one-off villain into one of the saga’s most compelling characters.
The dark warrior from Dathomir has quite an interesting arc over the course of various Star Wars media. The fourth season of Clone Wars revealed that he used his intense hate for Obi-Wan to survive getting sliced in half on Naboo; Maul tapped into the Dark Side of the Force to keep himself alive, and then managed to forge a makeshift mechanical spider body for the lower half of his torso. He went mad in the caverns of a junkyard world, muttering to himself endlessly, much like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
But his brother, the assassin Savage Opress, discovered Maul’s whereabouts. He brought his broken sibling to the Night Sisters of Dathomir, who restored his sanity and gave him a pair of robotic legs. Now driven by vengeance against Obi-Wan Kenobi, he became less like Gollum and more like Khan from Star Trek, forming a criminal cartel called the Shadow Collective and taking over the planet Mandalore. He enacted revenge on Kenobi by murdering his love Satine in front of him in cold blood. But when Palpatine learned that his old apprentice was alive, he quickly killed his brother and tortured Maul with the old force lightning trick. He left Maul alive, however, claiming he had “grand plans” for him.
Whatever those plans were will unfurl in the upcoming final season of Clone Wars, which hits Disney+ next year.
Darth Maul: The Missing Years
Here’s where Maul’s history gets tricky, and incomplete. His next canonical appearance came in the form of a cameo at the end of Solo, wherein he revealed himself as the big boss in charge of acriminal cartel called Crimson Dawn, a powerful organization with tendrils stretching throughout the galaxy. He seemed fully in control here, approximately ten years before the events of A New Hope.
But about six years after that, Star Wars: Rebels showed us Maul once more at a very different stage of life. He had become a hermit living in the Sith temple on the planet Malachor, having crash landed there years earlier. Although not completely out of his mind like he was after the whole bisection thing in The Phantom Menace, he was still a shadow of his former self. No mention was made of Crimson Dawn, suggesting he’d been ousted as its leader. And he was still totally obsessed with exacting his revenge on Obi-Wan.
He discovered in Rebels that Kenobi was still alive on Tatooine, and went there to exact his retribution. But Obi-Wan killed him once and for all in a very brief battle in the desert.
Still, how Maul went from powerful figure to pathetic creature so fast has yet to be explained.
How Kenobi vs. Maul Can Still Happen
Although many fans point to Rebels as proof that a live-action rematch between Obi-Wan and Maul can’t happen during the timeline we have been given for the Obi-Wan show, we think it absolutely can. And without breaking canon. There is a five-year period between when we saw Maul standing tall as an intergalactic crime lord and when we next caught up with him, stranded and lonely on a dead world. How did that happen? With a Solo sequel seemingly not on the horizon anytime soon, an Obi-Wan series seems the perfect place to tell this story.
Imagine if ten years after Revenge of the Sith, Maul tasks his newly appointed lieutenant Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) to comb the galaxy looking for Kenobi. Lets say he does indeed find him; we might see the the two cross sabers once more. But we could also see Obi-Wan showing mercy for Maul upon defeating him, realizing that, much like in the case of Anakin, the galaxy would have been spared a lot of pain due to his failings. Obi-Wan could then choose to “Jedi mind trick” away all his memories of his being alive instead of killing him. This could explain how Maul loses Crimson Dawn, and why he he seems far more mentally damaged when we see him in Rebels a few years later. It’s a simple solution that allows fans to have their cake and eat it too.
It also makes the final confrontation between Obi-Wan and Maul that much more tragic in Rebels. Despite the old Jedi Master’s best efforts, Maul’s need for blood vengeance will always lead him back to Obi-Wan’s door. Thus forcing Kenobi to deliver the quick mercy killing that he does for his old foe. Nothing in the existing canon has to be broken, and it would only add a layer of tragedy to Maul’s final demise. It’s just a good old fashioned comic book style retcon. Besides, the final confrontation between both characters should end with the two actors who originally gave them life in the first place. I believe it is the will of the Force.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm