The prequel trilogy’s first lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul was almost much bigger in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. George Lucas may have planned out the story of Anakin Skywalker for years, but he was actually a lot more flexible than most viewers realize. Recent reports have revealed the villainous Darth Maul was almost a major force throughout the prequel trilogy, for example, with Lucas imagining General Grievous as a cybernetic version of the Sith Apprentice.
It seems Maul almost had a much more thrilling introduction in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, as well, with stunt coordinator Nick Gillard telling Star Wars Theory an extended sequence was shot featuring Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and Ray Parks’ Darth Maul as they fought one another on the desert planet of Tatooine. As in the final cut, this scene began with Darth Maul almost running Anakin Skywalker over on his speeder before facing off with Qui-Gon Jinn. However, this is where Gillard reveals the differences in the longer scene.
“I particularly liked the desert fight between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. It was powerful because that was the first time you saw him (Maul). And it was longer than that. They come in with that Nubian spaceship and pick up Qui-Gon, I think he jumps onto the ramp. Originally, Maul got on the ramp too. Qui-Gon made it onto the ramp feet first, right? Maul dived as the ship was going, gets it with his fingers, and swings up…and then they have another fight on the ramp as the ship’s going and then Qui-Gon kicked him off.”
Gillard goes on to say that Maul would have then dropped into frame as Amidala’s cruiser left the planet, only for the Sith to catch up with the Queen and her Jedi protectors during the Battle of Naboo.
Darth Maul Could Have Had A Stronger Debut Against Qui-Gon
The longer sequence, with the extended lightsaber duel continuing on the ramp, would have certainly made a far stronger debut for Darth Maul. It would also make more sense for Qui-Gon to struggle escaping Maul; at this point in the Star Wars timeline, the Jedi believed the Sith extinct since the days of Darth Bane, when the Rule of Two was established and the Sith essentially reinvented themselves. Jedi had not trained to battle Sith, meaning it would not be surprising to see Qui-Gon caught off-guard.
There is a sense in which both Darth Maul and Sidious were the “Phantom Menace” of the first film, the ghost of the past that had returned to haunt the present. Darth Maul was deliberately designed to look devilish and demonic, and the horned Zabrak from Dathomir was the first hint the Sith still lived. Darth Sidious planned Maul as an executioner who would kill Jedi from the shadows, and a longer showdown with Qui-Gon prior to the Naboo duel would have helped establish Maul as a powerful threat.
Unfortunately, the longer lightsaber duel was likely cut due to runtime constraints. However, it is interesting to hear what might have been from the prequel trilogy’s leading stunt coordinator. Although the original plan was for Darth Maul to have a much longer action debut in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, the Sith Lord still managed to prove his power throughout the events of Star Wars’ prequel trilogy and on into the reign of the Empire.
More: Liam Neeson Is Right To Avoid A Qui-Gon Show (But One SHOULD Still Happen)
Source: Star Wars Theory