When he stepped from the shadows of a murky hologram, we knew little about Darth Maul; the inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy - bar one - knew even less. We wouldn't discover much more: he was a force of pure malevolence, hellbent on destroying the Jedi. Even in the Expanded Universe, despite a novel devoted to him, there was precious little background on this Sith apprentice.
A Zabrak from Iridonia, he was brutally trained to perfection from a young age by Sidious, never questioning his master, exacting every order to the letter. Even his strange hue was no help in identifying him - the red and black design on his head is part of a Sith body tattoo.
But Maul managed to be the highlight of Episode I, simply by virtue of being the darkest thing in a very bright, innocent movie. And of course, he had the coolest lightsaber ever. "The double-ended bit was pretty much set when I got there," says the man (if not the voice, which belongs to Peter Serafinowicz) behind the tats, wushu blackbelt Ray Park. "The only difference was that the handle was going to be the size of a standard lightsaber.
It would have been virtually impossible to move something that small around my body and keep it balanced, so I asked George if I could have it bigger." Other elements of his outfit were the usual carefully orchestrated mash-up, a mix of original cuts from Star Wars designer extraordinaire Trisha Biggar, and existing materials; the boots are from famous motorcycling brand Frank Thomas.
The knee-jerk instinct when waxing nostalgic about Maul is to claim he was a wasted opportunity, that he should have been used further into the prequels. In truth, this isn't the case. Badass beyond words he may have been, but having such an essentially submissive personality, and being a character who needed to be removed from the spotlight early on (to get the Sith attentions onto Anakin), he couldn't stay for long, and Lucas' decision to kill him at the end of The Phantom Menace was a wise one.
People may quibble over the specifics of how he was dispatched, but there's no question he had fulfilled his requirements to the story. Less is Maul, if you like...