Though “Solo: A Star Wars Story” treads familiar territory, it also features the odd surprise with one big and unexpected cameo at the end surprising many – especially those who’ve only stuck to the films.
SPOILERS FOR “SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY” AHEAD
Over the course of the film its hinted that Paul Bettany’s villain Dryden Vos is working for a more serious dark player, the head of the group known as Crimson Dawn. That figure is revealed to be none other than Darth Maul who was last seen in the films in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” where he was cut in half and fell to his apparent demise.
In the decades between the events of that film and his, he has returned with cybernetic legs now. Those events were portrayed in the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the film’s screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan have discussed the cameo and what it means for the franchise. The younger Kasdan tells Uproxx there are hints throughout the movie pointing to Maul:
“I was passionate about him all the way through. I sort of had planted the seeds early and I wanted it to be built that way. And I wanted to reference certain forms of martial arts that might lead to it. And the presence of someone who was so terrifying in this crime world that you had to know he was the guy who could control someone like Dryden. So he was part of the DNA of the thing.
The line we love and keep referring to is, ‘we’ve seen some strange stuff across the galaxy.’ And we did really want to honor the line that he [Han] had seen some weird stuff. And that’s why we thought it would be great for him to encounter a Jules Verne-type creature out in deep space, and made his experiences that have made his life rich and pressed the limits of what are possible.”
Separately he tells Variety that Maul fit in terms of the time periods:
“Maul had gone into this criminal underworld and this particular period in his life was left vague and gray in the canon. That gave us an opening to say, ‘OK, can we use that character, and if so, does he fit really nicely into a world of scary people?'”
It has also been confirmed that Ray Park, who played the character nearly twenty years ago now, returned for the part here while the voice was provided by Sam Witwer who has played the character in the animated series.
The inclusion has led to speculation as to a similar style cameo in “Star Wars: Episode IX” with a live-action appearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn the most popular theory at the moment.