Darth Maul's surprise cameo at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story was never originally a larger role. After nearly 20 years, the famed villain made his return to the big screen in the spinoff. After seemingly dying in The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm brought Maul back for small screen offerings like Rebels and Clone Wars, fleshing out the character and making him one of the more tragic figures in Star Wars lore. Even though die-hard canon enthusiasts knew Maul was still alive during the events of Solo, few would have predicted he'd appear in the films again.
The decision proved to be controversial, either distracting from Han's arc in his own movie or brilliantly blending the areas of canon depending on who you asked. It certainly was a little curious Lucasfilm went with an antagonist who was so well-known, which may cause some to wonder if Maul's Solo role was initially beefed up. Despite the latest rounds of speculation, we can safely say that was never the case.
Rumors that Maul originally had more to do in Solo spread shortly after actor Ray Park fired back at critics on Instagram, after seeing comments referring to Maul's physique as "fatty." In the post, Park explained how he trained extensively for his bit part, even though he was battling through a hip injury. Additionally, the Maul makeup had an "aged effect" to effectively portray an older Maul. Some people believe that since Park trained for Solo it meant he had more to do, but that's not true.
For starters, Park himself says in the Instagram caption, "I knew I had no action to do." In fact, during Solo's development, Maul's return wasn't set in stone until the latter stages of production. The Crimson Dawn kingpin was simply called "Boss" in the script, and the creative team put together a list of possible candidates to choose from. With Co-writer Jonathan Kasdan and director Ron Howard voicing their support for Maul, the former Sith Lord won out. While Kasdan always hoped to use Maul, the character was written in such a way that it theoretically could have been anyone. Solo was never dependent on Maul's inclusion. The real purpose of the scene within the context of the movie is to conclude Qi'ra's character arc, illustrating her allegiance to a shadowy and evil figure. Expanding Maul's role would not have made sense.
Plus, Park's training regimen is thin evidence that he was ever supposed to have a more physical role. Mark Hamill had a wordless cameo in the last scene of The Force Awakens and was still expected to get back into shape for Luke Skywalker. Billy Dee Williams is boxing in the gym before playing Lando Calrissian in Episode IX, but at 81 years old, there's only so much he'd realistically be able to do. Perhaps one day Maul's partnership with Qi'ra will be expanded, but audiences were never supposed to see more of the villain in Solo.
Source: Ray Park
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019