Being standalone Star Wars movies wasn't the only thing that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story had in common, as both also saw key dark side figures from a galaxy far, far away cameoing. For Rogue One, Darth Vader popped in to advise Orson Krennic not to choke on his aspirations and cut down some Rebel scum, and for Solo, Darth Maul appeared over hologram to as the head of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Although Ron Howard previously explained that there were other candidates in contention to appear in that hologram, Maul's voice actor, Sam Witwer, explained that by the time he came aboard, his character had been primed to go for a while, as the foundation for the character's return was already established in Dryden Vos' lair. Witwer told CinemaBlend:
I will tell you that [Jon or Lawrence] Kasdan told me that this was always the plan. That's what he told me. So I don't mean to be putting out any information that isn't consistent with anything else, but I was told, 'Hey, there's red Mandalorian armor on that set for a reason.' Crimson Dawn! Crimson Dawn for a reason. You know, like all of these little hints. There's I believe an old, Sith-looking hologram among Dryden Vos' collection, and all manner of little, nod-of-the-head [things] just nudging you towards who's in control of this criminal empire. And the way that he explained it to me was, 'Look, we were telling a story about a criminal empire. You don't necessarily have a lot of screen time to do that in a movie, you could only give sort of a thumbnail, so why not use the criminal empire that had already been established in many, many episodes of The Clone Wars that Maul established? Why not use that? That makes sense.'
Ahead of Solo: A Star Wars Story's home media release, I had the privilege of chatting with Sam Witwer, who previously voiced Darth Maul in The Clone Wars, Rebels and several Star Wars video games. For Solo, which marked Maul's first cinematic appearance since The Phantom Menace nearly 20 years ago, Witwer handled voice duties once more while Ray Park was brought back to physically portray the character in that surprising cameo. Solo was largely Force-free, but as Witwer noted above, due to a few hints sprinkled in Dryden Vos' ship, as well as what Maul went through in The Clone Wars, it made perfect sense to have Maul be Vos' superior rather than bring in someone new or another established figure, like Jabba the Hutt.
For those who haven't kept up with Darth Maul's life post-The Phantom Menace, the former Sith Lord became a important player in the latter half of The Clone Wars, and during his time on the animated series, he created the Shadow Collective crime syndicate. By the time of the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic book series, The Shadow Collective had fallen apart, but evidently sometime before Solo, he managed to become a intimidating, high-ranking figure in the underworld again, this time by commanding Crimson Dawn. Of course, those who've seen Rebels know what Maul's ultimate fate is, but now that Solo has shown us Maul leading a new criminal empire, the stage is set for Lucasfilm to show fans how this happened and/or follow Qi'ra's time with the tattooed Zabrak. It's unlikely this will happen in a Solo sequel given the movie's poor box office performance, but perhaps this can instead be explored in a novel or comic book series later down the line.
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be available for purchase digitally start September 14, and the Blu-ray and DVD copies will hit shelves on September 25. If you're interested in learning what other Star Wars movies are on the way, look through our handy guide.