Darth Maul: Personification of Evil


I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, and one of my earliest memories is of receiving a Darth Vader action figure in my Christmas stocking. I love Darth, he’s awesome, but if I have to choose another favorite evil guy from the Star Wars series it would have to be Darth Maul. He’s just cool looking, and genuinely creepy. I mean, look at the horns, the fearsome tattoos, the eyes and even the teeth: he’s a beast. He just boils over with rage, too.

There’s something more to him than just a spooky look. The Emperor is pretty creepy looking, and so is Darth Vader for that matter, but neither of them are the kinds of guys to give me a primordial, deep in the reptile brain kind of scare. Darth Maul is. Why is that? It’s because he’s the devil. Or at least he looks like what many of us think when we think of the devil.

The horns, the red and black color scheme, all of it brings a particularly satanic dimension to Maul’s appearance, but that begs the question of why these things are frightening at all. The color “red” is associated with wrath, courage and domination, among other things (to be fair, love and passion, too). It’s the color of blood, and it is a color of dominance in the animal kingdom. Our faces flush when we’re angry. We speak of “seeing red” when we’re driven to the point of fury. And “black”? Among other things, we in the west associate black with death, the night and even determination. Darth Maul is sending us a powerful message: indomitable blood and fury. This is a guy who won’t stop until you’re dead.

Then there’s the animalistic aspect of Maul’s appearance: he looks like a predator. His eyes are yellow, like a wolf’s or panther’s, and he bares his teeth like one, too. Darth Maul looks like he might bite you; eat you alive, even. His name, Maul, means “to maim.” He’s the perfect bogeyman, and his feral aspect puts him in line with the classic monsters of myth and popular culture. Almost every “monster” is frightening because it reminds us of the predators who once lurked on the periphery of our ancestors’ campfires. While most of us need not worry about being eaten alive by a bear or wolf on a daily basis, our monsters still have the power to frighten us. So does Darth Maul.

If Darth Maul didn’t hold such mythic resonance, we would have no further need of him past Phantom Menace. Yet he does, and he will continue to stalk the shadow peripheries of the Saga until the very last star in that galaxy far, far away winks out of existence.