Warning! Major Spoilers Follow! - Darth Maul's cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story is going to be something that a lot of fans will be buzzing about for months to come - especially since a lot of them won't understand how the Sith villain is back on the screen, after being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of Star Wars: The Phatom Menace.
We'll be breaking down Darth Maul's larger arc in the Star Wars saga soon enough - but today, we have some insights to share form Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, the two writers who handeled Solo: A Star Wars Story's script work, and were responsible for including that Darth Maul cameo. Comicbook.com spoke with the Kasadans at Solo's press day, and they revealed how and why they chose this particular character to appear in Solo:
"So it was something that I'd been subtly laying in hopefully early on. I always sort of thought that's ... a character I adore from the prequel trilogy I felt like was underutilized in the prequel trilogy," Jon Kasdan told us. "So it was something that, when we realized that we wanted someone in the crime world above Dryden, we wanted it to feel like there were bigger fish than even the ones we get to meet in this movie. There was no one more lethal and more in the spirit of the ultimate villain that we could identify in the trilogy than him. That's something that I sort of always wanted, and Ron was very supportive of. Sort of intuited that it's what I wanted, and we made it happen."
Indeed, Solo takes Star Wars fans deeper into the Star Wars Underwrold than they've ever been before, which is exactly where Maul has lived for most of his time in the franchise. Fans who've only seen the films don't yet know it, but the Star Wars tie-in materials like the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series - plus the Darth Maul Marvel Comics series - resulted in Maul going from being a prospective Sith Lord apprentice to Darth Sidious, to becoming major crimeboss terrorizing obscure parts of the galaxy, in a bid to seize power and influence that would one day allow him to take down Darth Sidious, and his eventual apprentice, Darth Vader.
When Solo takes place, Maul has lost his position of power as leader of the Shadow Collective crime syndicate, and has retreated back to his homeworld of Dathomir, with his Shadow Collective empire having been shattred by Darth Sidious, Count Dooku, and General Grievous' droid army. Apparently he is now running a new crime syndicate, Crimson Dawn, which employs the likes of Dryden Vos.
Given that setup, the Kasdans realized they had some free space in the franchise continuity to bring Maul back into the movies, without causing a lot of continuity problems:
I loved that they took him and went an interesting place with him in 'Rebels,' and in 'Clone Wars,' and just sort of to expand on the myth of that character, and the idea that he survived," Jon Kasdan explains. "Rebels set us in a timeframe where we were sort of in the clear, and they were allowed to sort of do what they wanted with the Shadow Collective, with the whole, you know, back story that they were playing with, and his movement into crime that would leave us in a clear zone, so that, by the time this movie happened, it was gray where he was. And so it opened it up for us, and certainly I think there's room to go back and forth with that character and know more, because he's a rich, rich opportunity.
Indeed, after Solo: A Star Wars Story, fans are going to be chomping at the bit to see more movie appearances from Maul - which seems like one of the places that Solo sequel could be headed!
Solo: A Star Wars Story is now in theaters; Star Wars: Episode IX arrives on December 20, 2019. Obi-Wan: A Star Wars Story is also in development, along with a new Star Wars trilogy from Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and a spinoff series from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.