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Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi Originally Featured Darth Maul Instead of Vader

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ray Park as Darth Maul, Disney+ logo
By Aeron Mer Eclarinal

Obi-Wan Kenobi had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. The project was in development for years, with it initially set as a movie. However, after failed attempts to showcase the story on the big screen, Lucasfilm decided to create a series intended for Disney+ instead. The show was officially announced during D23 Expo 2019, with Ewan McGregor being tapped to return as the titular Jedi Master. 

Aside from McGregor's return during the official announcement, the studio didn't reveal any plot details, leading to speculation on how the show would bring back the fan-favorite character. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Obi-Wan Kenobi's production was paused to polish the show's script, resulting in personnel and story changes. 

During Disney Investor Day 2020, concrete details about Obi-Wan Kenobi came to light as Lucasfilm announced Hayden Christensen's return as Darth Vader and its place in the Skywalker Saga's timeline. 

While Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to feature a plethora of villains like Vader, it looks like a notable foe was part of the cutting room floor. 

Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul Scrapped 

Darth Maul, Disney Plus
Star Wars

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) shared that Darth Maul was initially slated to appear in Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the idea was ultimately scrapped due to a creative overhaul behind the scenes. 

The outlet also revealed that actor Ray Park, who portrayed the Star Wars villain in The Phantom Menace, was in active preparation to reprise his role as Maul. 

The said creative overhaul paved the way for other antagonists such as Darth Vader to be added to the show. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi original writer Hossein Amini initially worked with series director Deborah Chow, but the production pause in early 2020 led to the former being replaced by Joby Harold. 

THR's sources noted that Chow showed scripts to The Mandalorian showrunners Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, but the pair were concerned about Obi-Wan being quite similar to the Pedro Pascal-led series, which is a Lone Wolf and Cub-like story of Kenobi combing out of hiding to protect a young Luke Skywalker. 

Luke Skywalker, Vader
Star Wars

Maul was supposed to be one of the villains who would participate in the hunt for Obi-Wan and Luke, with Vader not being part of the initial storyline. The outlet also revealed that Filoni and Favreau pushed Chow and the show to "go bigger." As a result, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy paused production. 

THR also shared that Park was already on set for pre-production and involved in stunt training. The outlet's source noted that Park may have also shot footage for the series, but another source pointed out that it could have been test footage. 

In the said creative overhaul, one THR source said that it was Filoni that "conceptually keyed in" to bring Vader back as the big bad, with the Grand Inquisitor being added as well. The Grand Inquisitor is a character made popular by Filoni in Star Wars Rebels

However, a Lucasfilm source contradicted the report by saying that Maul was never intended to return for the Disney+ series.

Will Darth Maul Appear in Live-Action Again?

Darth Maul's presence in the show makes narrative sense due to the villain's encounter with the titular Jedi during The Phantom Menace. If the storyline had pushed through, fans would've seen a completely different rematch tied to Qui-Gon Jinn's death during the first prequel film. 

Many would agree that it is the right move for Lucasfilm to scrap Maul and have Vader replace him as the big bad of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is due to the fact that diehard Star Wars fans already know the endgame between Maul and Kenobi as seen in Star Wars Rebels

In Rebels, Maul and Kenobi had a brief yet powerful lightsaber duel that led to the former's demise. Before his death, though, Maul appears to be at peace with his defeat, saying that the Chosen One (Luke Skywalker) will "avenge us."

Having Maul show up in Obi-Wan Kenobi would minimize the emotional impact of his resolution in Rebels, and The Mandalorian's Dave Filoni is clearly aware of that based on the report. Instead, putting the focus on Vader shows a more powerful storyline with a deep emotional impact due to Anakin and Obi-Wan's storied history. 

Meanwhile, the report also suggests that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are steering the creative direction of Star Wars' small screen universe. This is in line with previous reports of Favreau nabbing a massive contract to continue developing stories about the galaxy, far, far, away.

It is unknown if Filoni had the same deal, but it's safe to assume that he is locked in for a lengthy contract under Lucasfilm due to his expertise when it comes to telling Star Wars stories on screen. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to premiere on Disney+ on May 25, 2022.