Throughout the Star Wars universe, there have been many great duels. Star Wars fans have seen duels between Jedi, Sith, bounty hunters, and other great warriors. Whether it’s Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo, there has been no shortage of great heroes and villains doing battle to choose from.
But what is the single greatest duel between two combatants? It may surprise you to hear that it wasn’t in one of the movies. It was between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul, and it was featured in an unlikely source.
The history of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul
Darth Maul was one of the major villains featured in The Phantom Menace. While his screen time was minimal, his impact was not. He loomed over the entire film as a foreboding presence, a sign of the Sith threat yet to come.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character in the same film was much younger than the version Star Wars fans last saw. This film traded in Alec Guinness’ brilliant performance from the original trilogy for the equally understated performance of Ewan McGregor. In The Phantom Menace, Kenobi is still training under his Jedi master, Qui-Gon Jinn.
Kenobi and the Jedi have multiple showdowns. In one, Maul delivers the fatal blow that kills Jinn but is outsmarted by Kenobi. The young Jedi is able to vivisect the Sith lord with his lightsaber, sending him to what he thinks is Maul’s ultimate demise.
Maul lives, however, and is resurrected on The Clone Wars animated series using cyborg-like technology. While the two had several run-ins during that series, they wouldn’t meet again until much later on the show Star Wars: Rebels.
How the show ‘Rebels’ changed the ‘Star Wars’ universe
Star Wars: Rebels was a groundbreaking show in many ways. It followed a group of ragtag Rebel Alliance members, taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
While it featured mainly new characters developed for the show, characters from the films and other media often popped up and made appearances. For example, Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars showed up, a bit older and wiser. The show also featured Darth Vader.
Two other characters who popped up included Kenobi and Maul, meeting each other for the final time.
The best ‘Star Wars’ fight scene of all time
Maul appears on Rebels, tracking Kenobi to Tatooine. The two meet at night in the desert and Maul prods Kenobi for details on why he is where he is. Kenobi seems content to not fight Maul until his enemy correctly deduces that he’s protecting someone — namely Luke Skywalker. This is more than enough to motivate Kenobi to realize he needs to eliminate Maul for the young Skywalker’s safety.
The scene is set for another protracted, epic duel. But that’s not how it plays out. After a few swings of the lightsaber, Kenobi expertly defeats Maul with a quick, brutal motion. He then cradles his enemy in his arms, reassuring Maul that Skywalker is the “chosen one” as he dies.
So why is this the best Star Wars fight scene of all time? For multiple reasons. One is the history involved. Kenobi and Maul have faced off multiple times. Kenobi was able to effectively kill Maul at one point, meaning there’s plenty of hatred there. Plus, Maul took the life of Kenobi’s master. The two have a genuine distaste for each other.
Secondly, the scene is set up perfectly. Kenobi’s realization that he’ll need to end Maul is showcased with a scowl while his face is lit by his blue lightsaber. Third, the fight is swift and brutal. There’s not a wasted word or motion in the scene. It packs a powerful emotional punch.
That’s great storytelling. There have been many great fights in Star Wars lore, but this stands out as the most impactful.