Movies · TV

Taika Waititi! Rosario Dawson! Darth Maul? What’s Next for the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise

This May the Fourth arrived with a bevy of ‘Star Wars’ fantasies for fandom to salivate over.
Darth Maul Is Back
By  · Published on May 4th, 2020

Despite the conclusion of the “Skywalker saga,” this year’s May the Fourth Be With You is turning out to be quite the celebratory event for Star Wars fans across the galaxy. First, Disney+ unexpectedly dropped the final episode of the final season of The Clone Wars early this morning, and it was a real banger of a climax. Then, they confirmed that Taika Waititi would helm his own Star Wars feature, which he’s co-writing with 1917‘s Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Also, they made the Leslye Headland Star Wars spinoff series official. Oh, and if that’s not enough for you, thanks to an Instagram sprung from Ray Park‘s feed, rumors abound regarding Darth Maul’s possible appearance in the second season of The Mandalorian!

Take a breath. There is a lot to unpack here.

Real quick: The Clone Wars proved itself to be the most human Star Wars adventure. All seven seasons are readily available to you on Disney+, and now is the time to connect with that series if you have not already done so. You could probably just watch the seventh season and be satisfied, but slugging your way through the first three will eventually pay off in profound bits of character resolution. After you devour it, be sure to check out our The Clone Wars Explained series.

Taika Waititi directing Star Wars simply makes sense. He got cozy with Disney after revitalizing the God of Thunder in Thor: Ragnarok. He proved that he could maintain his radically weird New Zealand sensibilities while also delivering a rollicking good piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle. Recruited by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni for The Mandalorian, Waititi directed one of the best episodes of the first season (“Redemption”) while also providing the voice of IG-11, who gives Baby Yoda a run for their money as far as the most cuddly and adorable new addition to the franchise.

Waititi recently won an Academy Award for his Jojo Rabbit screenplay, and pairing him with Wilson-Cairns sounds like an intoxicating collaboration. While we know that Leslye Headland’s Star Wars is set to take place hundreds of years apart from the Skywalker saga, we have no idea where or when Waititi and Wilson-Cairns will explore. They could rebuild the Republic from the ashes of The Rise of Skywalker, or maybe, just maybe, they’re the team who could give The Clone Wars hero Ahsoka Tano the spotlight she rightfully deserves.

Tano, the fallen Jedi, will at least be a focus of the second season of The Mandalorian. Rosario Dawson has been cast in the part, and she is a spectacular choice for the role. Ultimately, The Clone Wars revealed itself to be her grand story, where she had her eyes opened to the fallacy of the Jedi, but only when it was too late and the snake that was Anakin Skywalker had already struck. If only she had listened to the warnings of Darth Maul, and seen the truth hidden within his poisonous mind.

That brings us to those Maul rumors. Five days ago, Ray Park posted the Sith logo on his Instagram feed with the words “This is the way.” The phrase is the mantra of Mandalorians everywhere, suggesting that Park may be gearing up to bring his mechanically limbed villain to Disney+, where he can cross lightsabers with Ahsoka Tano once again. This is odd since The Mandalorian takes place after the events of Star Wars: Rebels, in which Maul had his life cut short by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time he returned after his apparent death at the hands of Obi-Wan…

Park, however, is not letting these rumors die. Today, he posted yet another Instagram featuring a drawing of Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber as well as “This is the Way! The Way of the Sith!”

At the end of The Mandalorian, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) survived his encounter with Mando (Pedro Pascal) by prying himself free of his smoldering TIE fighter using the Darksaber. This mystical blade was last seen in Star Wars: Rebels, rescued from the clutches of Lord Maul by that show’s hero, Ezra Bridger. The blade was returned to Mandalore and given to its leader, Bo-Katan Kryze.

How did the Darksaber go from Krzye to Moff Gideon? The answer could rest with Maul.

Park seems to be in the thick of it with Lucasfilm once again. Besides appearing in Solo: A Star Wars Story for the briefest of cameos, he donned a motion-capture suit for the Clone Wars episode “The Phantom Apprentice” and delivered an epic swordfight with Ahsoka Tano performer Lauren Mary Kim. For those watching The Clone Wars, Maul has been a standout character, and there is as much fandom hunger for his return as there is for a proper Ahsoka Tano spotlight.

While he’s dead during The Mandalorian timeline, a series of flashbacks could fill a few gaps still left by The Clone Wars and Rebels. Maul goes a long way in not just explaining how the Darksaber landed in Moff Gideon’s mitts, but also in elevating the weapon’s significance for audience members who never ventured into the animated realms. For as rad as the cartoons are, some folks will never bother with them because of their very nature. Park, back in the makeup, should secure Maul’s placement as one of Star Wars‘ great characters.

Put him in a feature directed by Waititi and co-scripted by Wilson-Cairns, and you’ve got yourself a few more billion dollars of merchandise sales. Hey, if we’re speculating, we may as well speculate big. Give Maul a third shot at the big screen.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)