Alright, yesterday was May 4th (AKA Star Wars Day) and today is Revenge of the Fifth. You know your girl couldn’t squeak by without a Star Wars post. That said, you don’t have to be a fan of Star Wars to get something from this post.
It happened that yesterday the season 7 finale (and last episode ever) of the Clone Wars show released on Disney+. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was basically speechless after seeing it. Today we will be discussing how the Maul (the breakout villain of the show) is such an amazingly well-crafted antagonist (specifically in the last 4 episodes).
If you care about Clone Wars spoilers, there will be a whole lot in this post so you have been warned.
The Fear that Motivates
What makes any character dimensional is to get into their psyche: What do they fear, and how does it motivate them? Through the last episodes of the Clone Wars Maul has a clear fear and motivation. He fears Darth Sidious, his old Master, and thus is determined to kill him. When a character believes in something so powerfully, it is intimidating (especially when they are the villain), because nothing can stop them.
The Understandable Purpose
A good antagonist makes points that are arguable. This adds more conflict to how the hero will stick to his/her beliefs. Maul also happens to be right in his beliefs of how most things will turn out (a fact that impacted fans who already knew the outcome of order 66). A villain who makes some sense adds another layer of complexity to his character and the situation. He’s right… but he’s also wrong??? Crazy.
Not “Evil” For the Sake of it
Since Maul has such a determined and calculated plan, he only does what he deems necessary (even if others would disagree heartily). Maul is on a mission and every move he makes is in an effort to coincide with it. He isn’t the cliche “evil laugh because he is making the hero miserable” villain. In fact, he even tries to team up with Ahsoka in hopes of fulfilling his purpose. Maul is against Ahsoka simply because she gets in the way of his mission, not because he wants to be. This makes him more “human” instead of a mindless crime machine.
One Step Ahead
Most anyone can tell you that when the villain is one step ahead of the hero it adds a lot of tension. In season 7, Maul being right about the events to come, and Ahsoka denying it, gives him a constant advantage. He always knows what his next step will be, and can adapt to changes, while Ahsoka is more often taken by surprise. What’s the point in a villain who never has the advantage over the hero? How can they intimidate?
Powerful, but Not Undefeatable
Villians need to have advantages as well as multiple victories (if even slight) to properly make them intimidating, but they are often more complex if they aren’t some total god-like figure. It makes them more personal if they lose some here and there. Maul isn’t perfect. He gets captured by Ahsoka, yet his knowledge and power (a lot of it physical) keep him a present threat to Ahsoka and the clones.
Emotion and Dialog
I also want to add that the villain being multi-emotional and having excellent dialog helps sell all of the above. Maul accomplishes this so well, largely due to Sam Witwer as a voice actor. He infuses meaning and emotion into the already stellar dialog which pushes Maul to his full capacity.
Who is your favorite villain in Star Wars? Or if your not a huge Star Wars fan: who is one of your favorite fictional villains? Bye, for now, everyone!