The Borgified Corpse wrote:
My only question at the time was who was the actual Phantom? The secret Darth Sideous guy (who was obviously McDiarmid), or the secret Darth Maul guy who had five lines? Lucas did a shitty job of making that clear. (And now I remember the Yoda line at the end of the movie, so yeah. But still.)
From dictionary.com, "phantom":
2. an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image
, mirage, or optical illusion.
3. a person or thing of merely illusory power, status, efficacy, etc.: the phantom of fear.
I think perhaps the "Phantom Menace" was the Trade Federation and their invasion of Naboo. Senator Palpatine manufactured this threat to Naboo so that he could get himself elected Chancellor in place of Valorum.
See, the very fact that we're discussing it and have come up with now a third possibility means it was confusing. It is the only of the six titles that is unclear.
And its not vague in that double entendre way, either. It's supposed to be someone or something.