Solo: A Star Wars Story was full of twists and turns, but by far the most shocking one was the surprise reveal of Darth Maul (or, as he's known at this point in the timeline, simply "Maul"), leaving many in the audience full of questions.
For fans of non-movie Star Wars canon, Darth Maul's return from the dead has been known for some time. His appearance in Solo was no less shocking because to them because of that, but to anyone that hasn't followed his story since his death in The Phantom Menace, the reveal was all the more shocking and confusing.
If you don't know what's been going on with Maul, you have a lot to catch up on, but here are some basics that will at least explain what he's doing in Solo and what that means for the future.
- This Page: How Did He Survive and What is He Doing in Solo?
- Page 2: When Does He Die, Will He Train Qi'ra, and Where Did He Get His New Lightsaber?
- Page 3: Why Does He Sound So Different and When Will We See Him Again?
How Did Darth Maul Survive?
Most audience's last memory of Darth Maul is likely the image of him being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and seemingly falling to his death down a reactor shaft in the bowels of the Theed Royal Palace during the Battle of Naboo at the end of The Phantom Menace. But in the larger Star Wars canon... that's only the beginning of his story.
Enveloping himself in pure rage, Maul dug deep into the dark side of the Force, giving into his rage to hold onto the last threads of his life. He found his way off the planet on a trash hauler that dumped him on the massive uninhabited landfill planet of Lotho Minor. Seething in the pain of his injuries and his hatred of Kenobi, his mind slowly eroded until he no longer even knew exactly what he was so angry about, becoming little more than a tormented beast.
Eventually, during The Clone Wars animated show, his brother, Savage Opress, eventually found him and returned him to his mother, Talzin, the Clan Mother of the Nightsisters on Dathomir. Talzin used Nightsister Magik to restore his mind and craft him new mechanical legs.
What Is Darth Maul Doing In Solo?
Upon having his mind restored, Darth Maul sees the Clone Wars are at full swing and Palpatine had replaced him with Count Dooku. He was supposed to lead the Separatist armies against the Republic, but his destiny had been stolen from him, and he blames Kenobi. Taking his brother Savage as his apprentice, Maul takes over the Mandalorian terrorist cell, Death Watch; forces the Pyke Syndicate, Black Sun, and the Hutt Clans to submit to him; and claims the allegiance of his Dathomirian Nightbrothers to form the Shadow Collective, the 3rd most powerful force in the galaxy and the largest known criminal organization in galactic history.
He's eventually driven from Mandalore by Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, at the end of the Clone Wars, and the Shadow Collective is mostly defeated, disbanding back into its original independent factions, but Maul maintains his influence, including a relationship with at least the Pyke Snydicate, retreating to Dathomir where he continues to lead from the shadows, presumably forming the organization Crimson Dawn, inspired by the red star Dathomir orbits.
When we last saw him, Maul wanted to take over the galaxy, and when he shows back up in the Star Wars Rebels animated series, he's looking for a means to destroy the Sith. It's suggested in Solo that his organization, Crimson Dawn, is working with the Empire, so it's likely he's working an angle, or just simply doing what he needs to survive, hoping he gets an opening to get his revenge.
When Does Maul Actually Die?
Darth Maul (now just "Maul," having left the Sith order) may have survived the events of the prequels, but he doesn't make it to the original trilogy. Everything he has is slowly taken from him until he's once again on his own. He once thought he had a grand purpose at Palpatine's side, but once Darth Vader shows up it's clear that he was never more than Palpatine's pawn and the promises he was told of a grand destiny were all lies.
Around 11 years after the events of Solo (and about 2 years before A New Hope), Maul discovers Kenobi is still alive in exile on Tatooine and is overcome again with the need for revenge. When he finds him, the duel isn't long. The old Jedi Master quickly slashes a fatal blow to former Sith apprentice, and the two share a poignant moment where Maul realizes Obi-Wan is the one with a true grand purpose - guarding the eventual savior of the galaxy. In his dying breath, Maul says "he will avenge us.
Will Maul Train Qi'ra In the Force?
Qi'ra pledging herself to Maul, the real mastermind behind Crimson Dawn, at the end of the movie created more questions than just how or why Darth Maul was still alive. Does this scene also indicate he's training Qi'ra as a Sith or as some other kind of Force wielder? The call for her to come work more closely with him on Dathomor and the ignition of his red lightsaber could definitely indicate that as a possibility. After all, he tries to make Ezra Bridger his apprentice in Star Wars Rebels, so the idea that he's looking for someone to train isn't that crazy.
Unfortunately, there's not much to go on this either way. Qi'Ra is already adept at the martial arts form called Teräs Käsi thanks to Dryden Vos, but Maul has taken on plenty of underlings thanks to their cunning and combat prowess and not trained them in the Force. It's safe to be skeptical on this one, but it's also too early to rule out entirely. The mere notion of Maul ever appearing in live-action would have sounded like a pipe dream to most Star Wars fans before the release of Solo, but now, thanks to a single scene, it's already a reality. With over a decade of his life remaining in mostly uncharted territory in the Star Wars timeline, we still have a lot to learn about Maul.
Where Did Maul Get His New Lightsaber?
During his hologram chat with Qi'Ra, Maul pulls out and ignites a double-bladed lightsaber. Like the former Sith apprentice himself, the last time many fans saw his double-bladed lightsaber it was cut in half. So how did he get this new one? It wouldn't be difficult for him to have just built a new one altogether, but this particular blade shows signs of a specific origin.
The lightsaber is the same hilt Maul uses in his appearances in Star Wars Rebels, and while it's not explicitly confirmed there, a close look at the weapon reveals an almost identical design to that of the Sith Inquisitor blades. The Inquisitors' double-bladed lightsabers have a spinning mechanism meant to make the blade more deadly since they lack the Force ability to truly wield one. Maul, on the other hand, is more than capable with a double bladed saber, so he's broken the traditional half-circle guard, which is the component that now bends upward instead of down.
Why Does Maul Sound So Different?
To fans that haven't seen Darth Maul appear since The Phantom Menace, it may be weird for him to not still be voiced by Peter Serafinowicz, but for anyone invested in Star Wars animation, Maul has had numerous episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels over the past decade where he's voiced by Sam Witwer.
The former Sith's transformation from the stoic Sith apprentice to the more verbose and expressive Force wielder shown in animation is a marked transformation but makes sense considering his mental break and restoration. Physically, Maul was performed again by his original live-action actor, Ray Park, making the combined vocal and physical performance one of the more fascinating blendings of multiple eras and formats of Star Wars in the Disney era.
When Will Maul Return?
This is the big question. Maul's in inclusion in Solo clearly wasn't there for Solo but for the future movies it sets up. The seal has been broken and Maul is alive and well in live-action. There's clearly plans to see more of him in the future. But when and where?
Unfortunately, there are still no confirmed titles beyond Solo other than Episode IX, and even that doesn't have a title. We know a number of movies are incoming though. Plans for a Boba Fett movie were just revealed (although have not been confirmed by the studio), persistent rumors suggest an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie is in the works, there's multiple films in development under the eyes of Rian Johnson and the Game of Thrones duo, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and finally a slew of other characters are having stories developed.
Since Maul is a major figure in the shadowy underbelly of the galaxy's criminal world, he could play a part in the Boba Fett movie, so long as it takes place before Maul's death; the Kenobi movie is doubtful, unless they adapt a story already told in animation, which isn't out of the question, but not likely; and without knowing what the Benioff/Weiss or Johnson movies are about, it's impossible to know. Then, of course, there's always the chance he could be getting his own spin-off.
It seems most logical to assume that Solo is setting him up for its own sequel, but the notion of Darth Maul being a major Han Solo villain doesn't completely line up with what we know of Han, and besides, the movie set up a very different sequel with Han doing a job for Jabba.
Wherever he shows up next, it's an exciting time for Star Wars fans. Maul has always been seen as one of the coolest characters with the poorest utilization in live-action. His design instantly had people excited for his appearance in The Phantom Menace, only to have minimal screentime and die at the end. His revival in animation and comics has seen a strong response, so hopefully that means his cross back over into live-action provides the big screen redemption that fandom has been craving for 20 years.