It’s probably for the best that Darth Maul isn’t the big bad in the upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series, avoiding a retread of the character’s terrific bow on Star Wars Rebels. But director Deborah Chow and original writer Hossein Amini pitched a much darker take in which the character would return, but it was paused by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.
According to a story in the Hollywood Reporter, there was an iteration of the upcoming Kenobi story that did feature Darth Maul (with Ray Park reprising the role) to serve as main antagonist, as well as young Luke Skywalker in a more prominent role. Sources told THR that when the story was reviewed by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, the pair “were concerned about Obi-Wan covering similar ground as Mandalorian—the Lone Wolf and Cub-like story of Kenobi coming out of hiding to protect a child-aged Luke Skywalker.”
Filoni is known for also having delivered the definitive ending to the Kenobi/Maul storyline on Star Wars: Rebels. In a past interview with io9, he noted that his take offered more a poignant closure for the character, as opposed to a build-up to another lightsaber battle. “It was just the right time to tell the story and bring that thread to an end,” he said of the quick death. “I felt strongly Obi-Wan, if he could help it, would really rather not kill Darth Maul. Obi-Wan is at a point, in my mind, where he’s become rather enlightened. He’s been in the desert discovering who he is, really evolving as a character. He’s not that young brash kid that went into a fight with Maul out of anger for the fact his master was killed. It can’t be that same situation this is so many years later. Maul, for his part, is pretty much hung up on that exact moment. That’s where his life went wrong. He can’t let it go.” At the time there was nothing planned for Maul in the future.
The THR story also mentions a source claiming that Ray Park has shown up for a shoot and stunt training since being participating in early pre-production; a Lucasfilm rep contradicts the account stating that Maul was never intended for the series. Building off the suggestion from Favreau and Filoni to “go bigger,”Chow and her team leaned into a way for Darth Vader to become the main antagonist for the series with Hayden Christensen reprising the role of Anakin Skywalker. While some fans may be disappointed that Obi-Wan Kenobi’s frequent nemesis won’t be playing a major role, it’s time to move on and see how Kenobi’s path in the Disney+ series is connected to the events leading up to Star Wars: A New Hope.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres May 25 on Disney+.
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