Major spoilers ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It's been a very exciting year for Star Wars fans. While Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi broke the rules and subverted fan expectations, the galaxy far, far away became even larger through Solo: A Star Wars Story. The franchise's second standalone film helped to expand the backstory of original heroes like Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca. But final moments of the third act featured a surprise character: Darth Maul. The Phantom Menace and Clone Wars villain brought the film's most shocking moment, and it turns out that not even the cast knew he would be included. This includes Han himself, as actor Alden Ehrenreich explains it,
There was a part in the script where it said 'somebody appears' and it wouldn't say who. So there was a lot of speculation amongst the crew and cast about 'who is that going to be?' and then I found out like a few months ago.
Despite leading the film as Harrison Ford's signature smuggler, Alden Ehrenreich's comments to ET indicate he didn't even know that former Sith Lord Maul would end up being Qi'ra's secret boss. It's probably the one twist that Star Wars fans hadn't predicted, which is why Maul's appearance was so damn magical in theaters. After all, didn't he get chopped in half during The Phantom Menace?
Darth Maul made his debut in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, as the mostly wordless apprentice of Darth Sidious. While the character wasn't especially dynamic, he had a double edged lightsaber and participated in one of the greatest duels in Star Wars history.
Solo marks the first time Darth Maul has been seen in live-action since his debut film. But fans of the extended Star Wars media like the Clone Wars and Rebels will know that Maul survived his duel with Obi-Wan, and had a long and hateful life led by revenge. Sounds like typical Sith behavior, no?
Maul's appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story, complete with his robotic legs, is presumably teasing very big things for the franchise. With Qi'ra moving up in the criminal underworld and working alongside the former Sith master, Solo is hopefully setting up either a sequel, or a new standalone movie based on the seedy underbelly of the Galactic Republic. Both of the franchise's spinoff movies have worked well despite being void of Jedi action, so there's plenty to mine from within the galaxy far, far away.
Qi'ra and Darth Maul's continued partnership can be explored in quite a few different movies, now that Disney has begun rapidly expanding the Star Wars universe. Solo 2 seems like a logical option, although Han seemed ignorant of The Force during A New Hope. There's also Rian Johnson's trilogy of Star Wars movies, the upcoming films from Game of Thrones creators D.B Weiss and David Benioff, or new standalone movies. As long as Maul's appearance doesn't end up being a glorified easter egg, the fans should happy to see the terrifying Zabrak villain once again kicking ass on the big screen.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.