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- “Do you know who Maui is? Only the greatest demigod in all the pacific islands!”
- ―Maui to Moana
Maui was born to human parents centuries before the events of the film. Disgusted and apparently wanting nothing to do with their son, Maui was thrown into the sea as an infant and left for dead. He was saved by the gods, who raised and granted Maui supernatural abilities, immortality, and a giant, magical fish hook that allows him to shape-shift. Despite his demigod status, Maui's cruel upbringing would forever scar him. He felt inadequate to humans and used his powers to benefit mankind in any way they pleased as a means to earn the love and validation he was denied by his parents; he pulled islands from the sea to provide them with homes, extended their days by pulling back the sun, and stole fire from the bottom of the earth to provide them with warmth on cold nights, among many feats. As a result, Maui became one of the most acclaimed figures of Oceania history.
Maui's need to satisfy mankind did not stop there, however. On one fateful day, Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, the mother island. As the gem has the power to create life, Maui believed it would make the perfect gift to mortals all across the world. Unfortunately, once the heart was removed from its resting spot, darkness slowly began consuming the world. The removal of the heart also gave birth to the wrathful lava demon Te Kā, who confronted Maui before he could escape. The two battled, but Maui was defeated, losing both the heart of Te Fiti and his magical fish hook in the aftermath. The heart would remain lost for decades, while Maui's fishhook eventually fell into the possessions of his arch-rival, the giant crab Tamatoa.
Maui, meanwhile, was banished to a desolate island by Te Kā and was doomed to remain there for all eternity as punishment for his crimes. Even so, legend proclaims that Maui is destined to team up with a young hero—the "chosen one"—to return the heart to its rightful place.
- Maui—half god, half mortal, all awesome."
Maui is boisterous, gregarious, and mischievous. His manner of carrying himself matches his massive physique, being larger-than-life and a true god among men. He is responsible for most of the necessities and luxuries currently belonging to mankind, and with his magical fish hook at hand, is amongst the most powerful figures in South Pacific lore. Widely regarded as a clever trickster, Maui is rarely matched when it comes to adversaries, being greatly feared by villains and monsters lurking throughout the sea. Maui can be extremely arrogant and pompous as a result of this reputation, although it is justifiable in every way. While his prideful ego can lead him to perform antagonistic and selfish acts, Maui is a lot less careless as a first impression may perceive.
As a result of his poor upbringing, Maui has spent a majority of his life living with crippling insecurity. He goes out of his way to perform godly deeds for mankind's benefit to compensate for the love and appreciation denied to him by his parents. While he seems to enjoy the praise he earns, he secretly wishes he could be loved and appreciated beyond his demigod status; as the human, he is on the inside, rather than the deity portrayed in legends. Even so, Maui's daring adventures over the centuries shaped him into a mighty hero. Before meeting Moana, Maui credited the gods for his greatness, completely contradicting his initial arrogance. He believed he was nothing without his deity-created fish hook, and openly lamented how useless he viewed himself whenever the hook was decommissioned. Through Moana, however, he slowly began to realize that the hook is only an accessory during his adventures and that his many accomplishments over the years were a result of his own selflessness and bravery, rather than what the gods conjured to assist him in such exploits. He discovered that Moana's words of wisdom were correct, and proved so by fighting relentlessly against Te Kā (without his fish hook) to save Moana and the world from destruction.
Powers and abilities
Maui possesses herculean strength in both his arm and leg muscles. The latter allows him to jump significant heights that end with damaging land. His strength also lies in his lungs, as he can produce massive gusts of wind to clear a path before or surrounding him; he apparently uses this ability to harness the breeze in the world's air.
Maui's most powerful abilities come from his mighty fish hook, which allows him to shapeshift into a wide array of animals. This proves to be an extremely useful asset, as Maui's quick changes from massive to pint-sized creatures prevents his enemies from keeping up and laying an attack. The fish hook can also illuminate to cause severe damage to the targeted enemy, but even at its full potential, it can be destroyed by a deity, as it was a weapon created by the gods. It will take more than one extreme blow to reach the point of total destruction, however. Maui tends to combine the strength of his muscles and his hook to perform acts such as pulling islands from the sea and lassoing the sun. Without his hook, however, Maui cannot shapeshift. Although he would still have his strength, Maui is considerably less powerful when stripped of his magic weapon, and therefore vulnerable to enemies.
Another significant trait of Maui is his animated tattoos plastered throughout his skin. The tattoos depict Maui's various exploits and accomplishments. New tattoos magically appear moments after a new milestone has been reached; as Maui explained, they must be earned. All of the tattoos are animated, but one stands out from the rest: Mini Maui. Mini Maui is a tattooed depiction of the actual Maui and acts as the latter's conscience, biggest supporter, and best friend. They communicate with each other often, and share a loving bond, though their conflicting levels of morality causes them to clash on occasion (with Maui being mischievous and Mini Maui being completely benevolent).
Role in the film
Maui was first seen during Gramma Tala's story regarding his disastrous theft of Te Fiti's heart. Tala's granddaughter, Moana, was chosen by the sea to find Maui and return the heart to its rightful place. According to Moana's ancestors, Maui can be found by following a constellation resembling his fishhook. Moana takes the heart and journeys off into the sea. The ocean creates a storm that transports her to Maui's island.
The morning of, Maui finds Moana's boat unattended and celebrates his key to escape. He soon meets Moana, who angrily confronts the demigod and orders him to return the heart. Maui, feeling a tad disrespected, explains to Moana exactly who he is and his gifts to mankind over the years. He does so through the musical number "You're Welcome", which served more as a ploy to distract Moana as the demigod made off with her boat and pet chicken, Heihei (intended to be Maui's lunch). The ocean helps Moana catch up to Maui on the boat, and although the latter tries numerous times to dispose of Moana, the ocean returns her to the boat each time. When Moana reveals that she actually has the heart of Te Fiti in her possessions, Maui cowers in fear. He says the heart is cursed, referring to the fact that he lost his hook following its theft, but Moana believes otherwise.
Suddenly, the duo is attacked by a band of pirates known as the Kakamora, who sought the heart like many villains. As Maui fights off the Kakamora, Heihei swallows the heart and is kidnapped by the pirates shortly thereafter. Moana asks Maui to save him and the heart, but Maui doesn't believe it to be worth the risk and tries to escape. Moana hops off the boat and rescues Heihei herself against Maui's advice. After she makes it back to the boat safely, Heihei spits out the heart. Through Maui's impeccable sailing skills, they successfully escape the pirates.
Maui commends Moana on her ability to escape death but still refuses to help her restore the heart. As Moana examines his tattoos, she gets the impression that Maui enjoys praise, claiming that returning the heart will restore his positive reputation with mortals across the world. With this in mind, Maui eventually agrees, though he stresses the fact that his fishhook will be needed in order to bypass Te Kā and make it to Te Fiti alive. Moana agrees, and they set their course to Lalotai, home of Tamatoa. Upon watching Maui maneuver the boat with ease, Moana asks him to teach her how to wayfind. Maui scoffs at this, but the ocean pokes a leftover blow dart from the Kakamora into Maui's rear, rendering him physically inert. With no other choice, he instructs Moana on how to fail for the remainder of the night.
The next day, the two arrive at Lalotai, and Maui asks why the ocean chose Moana in the first place. She can't seem to answer, which is a source of amusement for Maui, who openly expresses his belief that the ocean made a mistake (referring to Moana's young age and inability to sail). As they prepare to enter the Realm of Monsters, Maui tries to scare Moana into staying with Heihei on the boat, but much to his surprise, she tags alongside him and finds Tamatoa's lair. Maui sends Moana inside to distract Tamatoa while the demigod grabs his hook, but upon revealing himself, he finds that he cannot shapeshift properly. Tamatoa attacks and nearly kills Maui, but Moana distracts the crab long enough for her and Maui to escape his lair with the fishhook in hand.
Back in the human world, Maui thanks Moana for saving his life, though he laments the fact that she could have been killed while he was powerless to save her. Moana is nevertheless confident in accomplishing their mission now that they have the fishhook, but Maui feels otherwise. As they sail closer to Te Fiti, Moana examines Maui's tattoos. Tamatoa had alluded earlier that Maui had been abandoned and brought gifts to humanity as a way to feel wanted. When Moana tries to get the full story, however, Maui lashes out. She opens up to the demigod in remorse by confessing that she doesn't know why the ocean chose her, and she feels confused as to what exactly it is that she's doing. But she is determined to complete her goal to save her island, though she can't do so without Maui's help. Before she can help herself, she offers to help Maui regain his confidence by lending an ear to what causes his feelings of crippling self-doubt.
Maui explains his tragic origins, and that the gods gave him the fishhook and "made him the hero he is". He further explains that praise from humanity helps him feel a little less worthless, though not entirely. Moana disagrees with Maui's views, telling him that the gods saw someone worthy of saving the day his parents abandoned him. And although they granted him the fishhook, Maui became a hero because of his own selflessness and bravery, not because of the gods. Feeling encouraged, Maui agrees to have Moana and Mini Maui mentor him in regaining his shapeshifting talents. Over the next few hours, he successfully does so while simultaneously teaching Moana how to become a master wayfinder. They bond, and soon enough, they feel equally prepared to face Te Kā.
As Moana sails them the rest of the way, Maui watches proudly, before openly expressing such pride, much to Moana's happiness. They finally reach Te Fiti, but before they can make it to her shores, they must confront Te Kā. Maui turns into a hawk and tries to fly past her, only to be struck from the sky several times. He is soon weakened too severely and orders Moana to turn the boat around. Not wanting to back away from her mission, Moana continues to sail towards Te Fiti and directly by Te Kā, who tries to smite the duo. Maui quickly blocks her blow with his fishhook, the impact sending him and Moana miles away from Te Fiti. When they recover, Maui finds his fishhook severely damaged and nearly destroyed.
He angrily confronts Moana, blaming her for endangering their lives despite his orders to turn away. Moana offers to fix the hook, but as it was made by the gods, it is impossible for them to do so. Maui refuses to return to Te Fiti as one more blow to his hook will destroy it forever. He uses some of his remaining power to transform into a hawk and leave Moana's boat. This forces Moana to return to Te Fiti alone. She faces Te Kā and is nearly killed, but Maui returns after having a change of heart. He promises to stick by Moana and distracts Te Kā while she returns Te Fiti's heart to the spiral on the island. When it appears that Te Fiti is gone, Moana notices the spiral circling Te Kā's chest and comes to a stunning realization. Meanwhile, Maui continues to fight despite his fishhook having been destroyed. This enrages Te Kā immensely, and the lava demon conjures a massive fireball meant to kill the demigod once and for all. Maui accepts his fate to protect Moana, but before he can be burned alive, Moana distracts Te Kā by shining the heart of Te Fiti's light in the distance. The two adversaries approach each other, but Moana tames the fiery beast and places the jade heart into her chest. This revives Te Fiti, much to Maui's shock.
Maui apologizes to Te Fiti for his harmful acts, confessing that he was wrong and has no excuse. Te Fiti warmly forgives Maui and rewards him for his heroic acts by restoring his fishhook to its original greatness. Overjoyed, Maui celebrates while Moana and Te Fiti embrace. Once Te Fiti forms back into her resting position, Moana and Maui prepare to part ways. Before they do, Moana asks Maui to return to her home island of Motunui as her people could use a master wayfinder. Maui denies the offer but declares that her people already have a master wayfinder in Moana. He then reveals to have a new tattoo plastered onto his body that depicts a victorious Moana, touching the girl and leading to a warm, bittersweet hug between her and Maui. After the two give their final goodbyes, Maui transforms into a hawk and flies off.
Following these events, Moana has ushered in a new generation of voyagers on her home island. During one of her great sails, Maui briefly returns in the form of a hawk, proudly watching over Moana and her people.
- Moana came from co-director John Musker's fascination with the legends and lore surrounding Maui. As such, the plot was initially conceived as a story centering Maui, with Moana playing a secondary role. This was during extremely early stages of development, and it was quickly changed to focus on Moana after an inspirational research trip to the South Pacific.
- Disney did not open auditions for Maui, as Dwayne Johnson was directly chosen and approached for the role.
- Maui's physical appearance was much different in earlier versions of the movie. He was bald and shorter in stature. For five years of the film's development, the filmmakers consulted in their Oceanic Story Trust, who pushed Disney to enhance Maui's physique to resemble a hero in the vain of Superman.
- When designing Maui, the team researched athletes such as football players, wrestlers, and men with massive physiques.
- Maui had a grandmother named Hina who served as the guardian of Lalotai's entrance in earlier drafts the movie.
- Maui has dimples, which are based on Dwayne Johnson's dimples.
- In a few scenes, Maui raises his eyebrow in a cocky manner. This was inspired by Dwayne Johnson's signature eyebrow raise, which is synonymous with his celebrity alias "The Rock".
- Maui's fish hook can be seen as silhouetted artwork on the rear end of Finnick's van in the film Zootopia.
- A Disney INFINITY figure of Maui was planned for release but was canceled following the game's discontinuation.
- At one point, Maui briefly turns into Sven from Frozen.
- ↑ "PREPARE TO BE DELIGHTED AS YOU MEET THE CHARACTERS FROM MOANA". Oh My Disney (July 25, 2016).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Keely, Flaherty (November 26, 2016). "34 Magical "Moana" Facts You Probably Don’t Know".. BuzzFeed. Retrieved on November 27, 2016.
- ↑ Ito, Robert (November 15, 2016). "How (and Why) Maui Got So Big in ‘Moana’". (Article) The New York Times.
- ↑ Julius, J., Lasseter, J., Malone, M. (2016). The Art of Moana. Chronicle Books.
- ↑ "Disney Infinity's Demise Also Killed A Moana Game". Kotaku (June 29, 2016).