Spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story
LEGO seemed to alert fans about Solo: A Star Wars Story's surprise cameo a month before the film came out. One of the more intriguing bits to come out in the late stages of marketing was Dryden Vos warning Han and company, "You know who I answer to." Many (including us) interpreted this as a reference to Jabba the Hutt, but Dryden was talking about a completely different famous character. Towards the end of Solo, it's revealed none other than Darth Maul is the one behind Crimson Dawn. Since there weren't even any rumors the former Sith Lord was up for a cameo in the spinoff, this was arguably the greatest shock Lucasfilm pulled off in the last handful of years.
Even those who were aware Maul had survived The Phantom Menace were caught off-guard, but savvy toy collectors might have been tipped off weeks ago. The middle of April saw what was dubbed "Wookiee Weekend" as a new wave of Star Wars products (most of them tying into Solo) hit store shelves. One of Lucasfilm's premier licensing partners, LEGO, came through with a collection of Buildable Figures. The group included characters like Alden Ehrenreich's Han Solo and an Imperial Range Trooper - and also Darth Maul.
It's worth pointing out that LEGO clearly modeled the Maul set after his appearance in Episode I (note the double-bladed lightsaber and lack of a cybernetic lower half), and this really isn't anything new for Star Wars toys. The likes of Hasbro, LEGO, and others frequently use the hype of a new movie to unveil new products of classic characters from the older films. Still, it's curious Maul was specifically part of this line. At the time, he looked out of place, but in retrospect, it makes more sense.
However, this shouldn't be seen as LEGO intentionally spoiling the Maul cameo. Star Wars toymakers rarely (if ever) get the inside track on major plot twists. For instance, Hasbro didn't know about Darth Vader's Rogue One hallway scene until after the movie debuted in theaters. Given the high levels of secrecy involving Maul in Solo (he wasn't even referred to by name in the script), it's extremely doubtful LEGO knew about the reveal ahead of time. There was enough in Solo already to make a strong product line without having to include Maul. Perhaps down the line, new Maul toys reflecting his role in Solo will be produced.
The reintegration of Maul into the live-action films will forever be a point of contention. An argument can be made that it blends the Star Wars movies and TV shows (Maul was a key supporting player on Clone Wars and Rebels) in a way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has shied away from. However, there are many who were displeased with the creative choice, feeling it undercut the momentum of the third act (in particular Han's character arc) with a slice of poorly-executed fan service. Hopefully, Lucasfilm finds a way to pay it off - whether it be in another spinoff movie, a novel, or comic book.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019