Exogorth-sized spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars Story yet!
There are lots of familiar faces in Solo: A Star Wars Story, even if they’re played by some new and notable names. There’s Alden Ehrenreich as the title character Han Solo, Donald Glover as the smooth-talkin’ gambler Lando Calrissian, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, but just about everyone else you come across is new to viewers and the many worlds of Star Wars. But some surprises lurk in the dark spaces of Ron Howard‘s Star Wars story…
One such surprise was a fantastic cameo that snuck up on audiences near the end of the film once all the heists, double-crosses, and newly forged alliances had run their courses. The end of this story revealed an awful lot more about Emilia Clarke‘s cunning and resourceful Qi’ra than it did our title hero and his team, and her story included a personal connection to a classic Star Wars villain. For casual fans, this cameo may have elicited chuckles or mere nods of recognition, but the tried-and-true die-hards out there know that this inclusion was a pretty big deal. (Here’s your last spoiler warning!)
We’re talking, of course, about Darth Maul. Infamously appearing in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace where he cut down Qui-Gon Jinn before being cut in half by a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul could have simply been a cool one-off villain. Originally brought to life (briefly) by martial artist/actor Ray Park and voiced by Peter Serafinowicz in George Lucas‘ much maligned 1999 prequel, the Sith was revived by Sam Witwer who voiced the character in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, and in a very cool reveal for fans, both Park and Witwer played the part, as Park did the live-action performance and Witwer provided his signature voice.
But sharp-eyed fans may have noticed that Maul was sporting a pair of cybernetic legs–hey, at least it wasn’t six spider-legs–something that would only be familiar to fans of the animated Star Wars series. You see, after Obi-Wan cut him down, Maul was barely alive, somehow managing to cobble together his cybernetic legs and attach them to his torso, all held together by the Force, though his isolation and injuries drove him mad. In a rather complicated history involving his brother Savage Opress and Mother Talzin, Maul eventually had his sanity and well-being restored through magic, now sporting a pair of cybernetic legs rather than six of them. He eventually formed the criminal alliance known as the Shadow Collective in order to combat the forces of Darth Sidious as well as the Galactic Republic. This criminal army was in part comprised of Mandalorian exiles known as Death Watch and the crime-lords the Hutts, but the alliance eventually crumbled due to warring factions within the ranks. So far, the connection to the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate has not been revealed, but perhaps it was Maul’s second attempt at assembling such a nefarious organization…
In a solo interview with screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan, our own Steve Weintraub got the inside track on just how Darth Maul wound up becoming part of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Here’s what Jonathan had to say about it:
How did Darth Maul end up in this movie? Was it something Ron Howard added when he came on?
Kasdan: It’s something that I had been subtly trying to build into the movie for a very long time, for years in fact. I was trying to do it in such a way that it would be apparent to people and they would go there but it was never explicitly stated so that everyone who read the script would think it was their idea to put Darth Maul in the movie, and it was effective. I made it work with Pablo [Hidalgo], I made it work with Ron. They were all built-in, the references to Teräs Käsi and all of that stuff were all designed to lead to that moment.
If you missed that nod to Teräs Käsi–a martial arts style in Star Wars legends–in Solo, you’re probably not alone. Qi’ra shows off impressive fighting skills in one particular scene, a moment that’s badass enough on its own but also suggests that she may have learned said skills from Dryden Vos and/or practitioners in the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. One character who is well-versed in the fighting style just happens to be Darth Maul himself. Vos had to answer to someone, after all, and now the same can be said for Qi’ra.
That’s a pretty cool tie-in for the greater Star Wars universe, but Steve also asked about the more practical side of getting Maul in frame:
Was it difficult to get him in the movie?
Kasdan: First of all, Ray could not have been more game. He was on a plane the second he got the call; he was ready to go and was great. We kept refining the theme that he kept coming back to, to make it better, and what we eventually arrived at, and I think the miracle of it is that, it ends up telling you as much about Qi’ra and where she’s headed and the danger she’s walking into as it does about him.
Kasdan went on to say that while he would be thrilled to work on a Solo sequel, he prefers movies that stand on their own, even if they’re not neatly wrapped up with a bow in the end. Still, by introducing Darth Maul here, and keeping in mind that the character would go on to meet his final challenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi at a later date in Star Wars Rebels, there’s a possibility that he’ll have a bigger part to play in a potential Solo sequel.
Would you be excited to see Darth Maul return in some capacity in another Solo story? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!