If you’ve ever seen the classic Monty Python sketch about the Spanish Inquisition, then you know it relies upon the premise that evil dudes wearing red can burst into any scene at any time. And now, with Solo, the Star Wars universe has found their version of that Monty Python gag. Because there’s no way anyone could have expected this character to show up. Yep, spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story start now.
At the end of the movie, after Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) decides she’s not going to hang out with Han Solo anymore, she seemingly takes up the position as big-time crime boss of the space mob known as Crimson Dawn. But, as becomes apparent right away, Qi’ra has a boss beyond the recently slain Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). That’s right, Qi’ra’s actual boss is revealed to be none other than Darth Maul, the former Sith Lord who was famous for his acrobatic skills, his winning smile, and getting his entire body bisected in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. How, might you ask, is Darth Maul alive like twenty years later, and why is he some kind of crime lord?
First, to be totally clear, a hardcore Star Wars fan or a young child will tell you that at this point in Star Wars history, not only is Darth Maul alive, he’s dropped the “Darth” part of his name entirely, and that’s because after being cast aside by Darth Sidious, he wasn’t really into that part of his life anymore.
Second, Maul did survive his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but that fact wasn’t revealed until the the fourth season of the animated series The Clone Wars in an episode called “Brothers.” Maul first shows up with a set of spidery robot legs, but then gets some slightly more robot-y robot legs. By the end of The Clone Wars, Darth Maul’s robot legs look basically human, and you’d never know he was cut in half and left for dead.
Relevantly, in The Clone Wars Maul began running a crime syndicate called The Shadow Collective, which briefly included the criminal group Black Sun. Now, The Clone Wars takes place about twenty years before A New Hope, which puts it about ten years before Solo. So, by the time of Solo, it looks like Maul is still doing some crime syndicate managing, either full time or on the side. One thing is clear, his base of operations is on his home planet of Dathomir because he tells Qi’ra to come meet him there at the end of Solo. Does this suggest Qi’ra has turned to the Dark Side of the Force, in addition to being a criminal mastermind?
In Solo, Maul is played by Ray Park, who originated the role in The Phantom Menace. However, the voice of Maul in Solo is provided by Sam Witwer, who has been doing Maul’s voice in the animated series, including Star War Rebels, where Maul appeared much older, and rocking the same lightsaber design we see him bust out in Solo, albeit briefly, and seemingly just for show. The choice to use Witwer as the voice, and not Peter Serafinowicz (who did the voice in The Phantom Menace) seems to be a direct shout-out to fans who have been following the animated versions of Star Wars.
And, if you’ve been keeping only one eye on all of those developments, you might be confused again. Didn’t Darth Maul finally get killed by old Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Rebels? Yes. That’s is true. But, Star Wars Rebels happens about 3 years before A New Hope, which means it’s about 7 years after Solo. Meaning, there’s a gap here between what Maul was doing after The Clone Wars, and becoming like a homeless guy hanging out the Sith planet called Malachor in Rebels.
And so, unexpectedly — like the Spanish Inquisition — the backstory what Darth Maul did in between The Clone Wars and Rebels is something a sequel to a movie about Han Solo suddenly will have to tackle.
Funnily enough, a lot of Star Wars fans got excited that Ewan McGregor was spotted on the red carpet for the Hollywood premiere of Solo, but no one thought Ray Park being there meant anything.
-Solo: A Star Wars Story is out in theaters everywhere now.