Dave Filoni, the heir to the Star Wars throne, has been giving us amazing Star Wars content for over a decade, and now, he is giving us important insights into one of the best lightsaber fights in all of Star Wars, The Duel of Fates from The Phantom Menace.
In an interview on Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian episode 2, Filoni goes in depth on the meaning of that fight and how it changed the course of not only Anakin’s life, but the fate of the galaxy as a whole.
What’s at stake is really how Anakin is going to turn out. Because Qui-Gon is different than the rest of the Jedi, and you get that in the movie. Qui-Gon is fighting because he knows he’s the father that Anakin needs, because Qui-Gon hasn’t given up on the fact that the Jedi are supposed to actually care, and love, and that that’s not a bad thing. The rest of the Jedi are so detached, and they’ve become so political, that they’ve really lost their way. Yoda starts to see that in the second film, but Qui-Gon is ahead of them all and that’s why he’s not part of the council.https://comicbook.com/movies/news/star-wars-most-important-moment-phantom-menace-duel-of-the-fates-dave-filoni/
So he’s fighting for Anakin, and that’s why it’s the Duel of the Fates. It’s the fate of this child. And depending on how this fight goes, his life is going to be dramatically different. So Qui-Gon loses, of course, so the father figure [is gone]. Because he knew what it meant to take this kid away from his mother when he had an attachment, and he’s left with Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan trains Anakin, at first, out of a promise he makes to Qui-Gon, not because he cares about him. He’s a brother to Anakin, eventually, but he’s not a father figure. That’s a failing for Anakin. He doesn’t have the family that he needs. He loses his mother in the next film. He fails the promise to his mother, ‘I will come back and save you.’ So he’s left completely vulnerable, and Star Wars is ultimately about family.https://comicbook.com/movies/news/star-wars-most-important-moment-phantom-menace-duel-of-the-fates-dave-filoni/
Anakin Skywalker’s ultimate downfall and turn to Darth Vader may have never happened if the fight between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn had gone differently. As Filoni described, that moment was the first of many that set Anakin up for his dark turn.
Filoni even goes on to describe how this moment reverberates through the prequels and the original trilogy, all the way to the final encounter between Luke and the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.
So that moment in that movie, that I think a lot of people diminish into just this cool lightsaber fight, is everything that the entire three films of the prequels hangs on. It’s that one particular fight. And Maul serves his purpose, and at that point died — before George made me bring him back. But he died, and that’s showing you, again, how the Emperor is completely self-serving. He’s just a tool. He’s using people and now he’s going to use this child. That follows all the way through to the line, which terrified me as a kid, when the Emperor tells Luke, ‘You, like your father, are now mine.’https://comicbook.com/movies/news/star-wars-most-important-moment-phantom-menace-duel-of-the-fates-dave-filoni/
I believe Luke would turn to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi. I believe that was on the table, I believe he would kill the Emperor. The only thing that’s going to save him is not his connection to the Force, it’s not the powers he’s learned, it’s not all these things that are an advantage to him. That’s gotten him to the table. But what saves Luke is his ability to look at all that, and look at his father, and say, ‘No. I’m going to throw away this weapon. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to let that go and be selfless.’ And he says, ‘I am a Jedi like my father before me.’ But what he’s really saying, and why I connect so powerfully to him, is ‘I love my father and there is nothing you can do that’s going to change that. The Emperor can’t understand that connection. ‘Why wouldn’t you take someone offering you the power of the galaxy? Why won’t you take this?’ And Anakin, then in that moment, has to decide to be the father that he’s never had. He has to give up all of the power in the galaxy and save his son. That’s the selfless act that he does in return for his son and that’s what saves him. So the son saves the father and the father saves the son and it works out perfectly. And I draw that line all the way from Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi. That’s the story of Star Wars.https://comicbook.com/movies/news/star-wars-most-important-moment-phantom-menace-duel-of-the-fates-dave-filoni/
The importance of The Duel of the Fates can not be understated in the grand story that is the Skywalker Saga, hence the very appropriate name of the fight itself. Surely, if Qui-Gon wins that duel, Palpatine would have had some sort of contingency plan, but would it have ultimately led to Anakin becoming his apprentice, or would he have had a find a new course of action for galactic domination? We will never know.