The phantom menace is the greatest star wars film!?….almost - Part 1

Darth Maul – The Perfect Antagonist?

Darth Maul is a great antagonist, he is an all-time favourite among star wars fans. But why?

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Definition of what an antagonist is a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary

There are two typical ways you can introduce an antagonist to the viewer -

  1. Specific
  2. Mysterious


If the writer chooses to go this way then the antagonist is usually introduced with some form of a backstory, they have clearly defined desires and objectives. What this does is allow the audience to understand the characters future actions, possibly empathize and maybe even agree with then. Once this is established any future action in the film has more meaning to the audience due to this character’s development.

Kill monger the antagonist in the Marvel film Black Panther is a great example of this.

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Killmonger is raised in the rough streets of Oakland and he experiences the injustices and struggles that all the people around him have to live with. Over time hatred and the desire for revenge built up in him for the people that not only killed his father but are the ones who have the power to help but don't.

“Two billion people all over the world who look like us whose lives are much harder, and Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all,” Killmonger scolds the Wakandan court. “Where was Wakanda?”


This type of antagonist is where Maul resides, secretive, dark and ambiguous. The objective with this type of character is to create uncertainty, his actions, background and motivations are unknown. If this lack of detail if done correctly it creates a level of suspense for the viewer and thus an engaging antagonist. The objective is not to create a character who the audience can relate to or empathise with be a character that is feared.

From the start, we get no background on Maul. His past, his desires, his motivations are all unknown, even his appearance is obscure. If we were to watch the film in order of episodes even the conversation he has with the emperor gives us no clue as to who or what he could be. The only thing it shares with the viewer is that he desires revenge, but why and against who is still not clear.

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It was also interesting to note the use of this weapon in the film. The first time we see maul use a lightsaber he only uses one blade, this is significant as it allows the duel blade unveil to be more impactful in the fight scene later on in the film.
Any Star Wars fan up to this point has only seen a variation in the colour of the lightsaber in the first three movies. With the blue and green representing the Jedi as either a Padawan, Jedi or Jedi master and red being the colour of choice for the dark side.
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Another thing that makes maul special is his apprentice, he must be one of the most recognizable characters. His look is unique and menacing, this uniqueness extends beyond his physical appearance. His clothing and equipment further add depth to his unique character, the most obvious of these being his lightsaber.
Maul epitomizes how a mysterious antagonist should be played, a sinister and unfamiliar opponent who is visually intimidating, powerful and unique not just in terms of his appearance but also ability and equipment.
Is he the perfect antagonist? Maybe...... just maybe?

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Part 2 - coming soon!

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