Ever since the appearance of Darth Maul's visage within a crystal ball at the end of the Nightsisters Trilogy in Season 3, Clone Wars fans have eagerly awaited the return of the black and red tattooed Sith warrior. Last week, I attended a media event at Skywalker Ranch to promote The Phantom Menace 3D and I was treated to a sneak peek of some images of Darth Maul's return courtesy of The Clone Wars CG supervisor Joel Aron. "We knew we weren't bringing back a character that is a one-trick pony," Aron said. "We weren't going to bring back a character that was just going to be seen once or twice. He's going to have an important role on our show."
With The Phantom Menace hitting theaters next week, Aron stated that it was important to make sure the look of Maul on The Clone Wars is consistent with the film version as played by martial arts expert Ray Park. According to Aron, "We studied heavily what Darth Maul looked like in Phantom Menace and tried to get as close as we could to the actual look that everyone is familiar with." Following Maul's lone appearance on the show, as seen in Mother Talzin's crystal ball, the character model has been completely redesigned. "He was completely rebuilt from scratch", said Aron. The images shown by Aron were approved by Supervising Director Dave Filoni the night before at Lucasfim's Big Rock Ranch, the home of Lucasfilm Animation. Some of the stills also contained Savage Opress, Maul's brother, who set out on a quest to find his exiled sibling. As Aron revealed the images, he said "This kind of confirms the rumors at the end of season 3, 'Would Savage Opress find his brother Darth Maul?'" The answer is yes he will!
As for the history of disposable villians on The Clone Wars, Aron reveals "Darth Maul does have a longer stay than usual, (un)like most characters on our show. He will be woven in quite well in with the story". How long you ask? Aron continued to say the story is "going to continue on in our show, beyond Season 4". So will we be getting our first cliff-hanger season finale of The Clone Wars series? Aron would not specify, but the odds are looking good. But how did Maul survive? What kept him alive? Aron offered the following clues; "He was basically kept alive by his hatred of the Jedi...There is a great Force within the Dark Side and you can almost cheat death....We had to fuel him with a great deal of hatred towards the Jedi...Revenge has fueled his hatred."
As for the story arc itself, according to Aron, "We try not to make the show violent, but when you bring a character like Darth Maul onto our show we kind of have to prey on a little more of the psychological violence as opposed to the physical violence...It's a lot of thinking. It's very smart. The episodes are extremely well written".
Listen to next week's edition of The Weekly ForceCast for audio highlights of Joel Aron discussing Darth Maul on The Clone Wars!