When it comes to expanding the Star Wars universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story primarily does so with small details, such as explaining the origins of the Millennium Falcon’s navigational computer or showing the true origins of the Rebel Alliance. However, there’s one shocking twist near the end that connects the latest Star Wars prequel to the one that started it all — 1999’s Episode I: The Phantom Menace — that may actually leave some viewers scratching their heads in puzzlement.
Warning: SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Rebels below.
If you’ve seen the film, then you know that the one and only Darth Maul makes his return as the shadowy leader behind the Crimson Dawn criminal empire that Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) belongs to. Of course, the last time we saw Maul, he had just been sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and seemingly killed at the end of The Phantom Menace, so how and why is he making his return now? Could it have something to do with Disney’s plans for a Obi-Wan spinoff movie?
Well, strap yourself in because this cameo requires quite a bit of explanation.
Maul was indeed defeated by Kenobi in The Phantom Menace, but the character has since been resurrected and is still an official part of canon in non-movie sources, most notably the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. It turns out that Maul was able to survive Kenobi’s fatal blow by using the Dark Side of the Force to channel his hatred of Kenobi, the power of which kept him alive. He eventually ended up on the junk planet of Lotho Minor, where he created spider-like legs to replace his missing ones, and was eventually found/rescued by his brother, Savage Opress. Opress took Maul back to their homeworld of Dathomir, where their mother, the Nightsister Mother Talzin, restored his mind and body, and also gave him a new pair of metal legs salvaged from some Separatist droids.
Maul then spent years building a criminal syndicate, while also seeking out Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to exact revenge. The two fought multiple times, as seen in the later seasons of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with Kenobi yet again mortally wounding Maul, only for the former Sith to return and murder Obi-Wan’s former love, the Duchess Satine, right in front of him. Oh and Maul also rose up against his former master, Darth Sidious, having felt betrayed and abandoned by his taking a new apprentice, Count Dooku. This explains why the “Darth” is dropped from his name in the end credits of Solo.
There’s a lot more to Maul’s story than that, but we suggest checking out his page over on Wookiepedia if you want all the details. The real question is how Maul became involved with Crimson Tide and why Lucasfilm decided to reintroduce him in the Star Wars movies now. The actual Crimson Tide organization is new to the canon, having been first introduced in the novel Last Shot, as well as Choose Your Destiny: A Han & Chewie Adventure, both of which were released on April 17, 2018. With Maul’s various connections to the criminal underworld, it’s certainly not a stretch to imagine him spending time with the Crimson Tide. We know that Maul dies for good sometime before the events of A New Hope. In Season 3 of Rebels, Maul tracks Obi-Wan to Tatooine and the Jedi Master defeats his nemesis once and for all. Before he dies from his wounds, Maul makes peace with Kenobi and declares that the “Chosen One” that Kenobi is protecting (a.k.a. Luke Skywalker) will avenge them.
With Han and Chewie headed to Tatooine themselves at the end of Solo, could it be that the film is setting up a sequel that will see Maul take on a bigger role or even that Obi-Wan Kenobi movie that has been all but confirmed? Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine Lucasfilm bringing Maul back now only to do nothing else with him, so he’s probably going to have a much bigger role in whatever comes next in the “Star Wars Story” set of films.