The prequel movies introduced a range of compelling Star Wars characters — including grey Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn. Although he was only in one Star Wars movie, the character was immensely popular. But George Lucas is adamant that he had a good reason to kill him.
Speaking in a 2019 interview on the Star Wars website, Lucas explained why he made the choice to off him in The Phantom Menace.
“I wanted to come up with an apprentice for the Emperor who was striking and tough. We hadn’t seen a Sith Lord before, except for Vader, of course. I wanted to convey the idea that Jedi are all very powerful, but they’re also vulnerable — which is why I wanted to kill Qui-Gon. That is to say, ‘Hey, these guys aren’t Superman.’ These guys are people who are vulnerable, just like every other person.”
He continued, “We needed to establish that, but at the same time, we wanted the ultimate sword fight, because they were all very good. It sort of predisposes the sword fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan later on. There’s real purpose to it. You have to establish the rules and then stick with them. The scene illustrates just how Jedi and Sith fight and use lightsabers.”
“I had the fight continually move locations so that we had some room to do it on various sets, and that was really a callback to the Douglas Fairbanks / Errol Flynn movies, where you have a really long, intense sword fight.”
To learn more about Darth Maul, the Sith Lord who killed Qui-Gon, check out our guide on the best Star Wars villains. Otherwise, catch up on some of the best movies of all time, or look forward to some of the new movies coming this year.