Star Wars concept art reveals a very different (and frankly scary) version of Maz Kanata that could've been introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The art is by Christian Alzmann, who has been posting some truly gorgeous alternative concept art from both The Force Awakens and The Mandalorian. This version of Maz that Alzmann created clearly has a much more "alien" look, and less of the lovable cartoony vibe that Disney and Lucasfilm ultimately went with for Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o and her motion-capture performance. Looking back at what Alzmann was pitching for the character, Disney probably made the right decision (from a merchandising point of view).
Christian Alzmann posted the following caption with his alternative concept for Star Wars' Maz Kanata: "Early unused design for Maz for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was trying to get the feeling of thick, heavy glasses without using them in the design."
One thing that's clear in Alzmann's design is that he was going for a much more matronly version of Maz Kanata - one that looks and feels like she could be a grandmother-figure to someone like Rey. It's debatable whether or not that would've been a good choice to go with: on the one hand, it may have made Maz feel much more warm and personable than oddball character we got in The Force Awakens - which could've arguably led to her having a bigger roll in the larger Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Instead, The Force Awakens left fans somewhat ambivalent about Maz and her place in the story, which led to her becoming one of several characters the ST introduced, only to underserve (see also: Captain Phasma, Supreme Leader Snoke, Rose Tico, and of course that Palpatine clone).
Like so many of the Star Wars ST characters, Maz Kanata is still poised to see here story arc in the franchise better explored in other material - be it TV shows, comic books, or novels. It's just an unfortunate reality that the Sequel Trilogy didn't flesh out its own new world enough, leaving fans with more questions and confusion than satisfaction and closure.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now streaming on Disney+.