In one of the biggest and more shocking twists in Star Wars history, Solo: A Star Wars Story brought Darth Maul back to the big screen in a perfectly thrilling reveal that should excite any Star Wars fan. After defeating Dryden Vos, Qi'ra doesn't run away with Han like he hoped, but instead turn her back on him, returning to the Crimson Dawn. Opening a communication to the organization's leader, a black cloaked figure appears, removing his hood to reveal the former Sith Apprentice.
While most moviegoers may remember Darth Maul as an underutilized villain who was killed off at the end of one of the least well regarded Star Wars movies, Darth Maul would go on to live in a number of stories in Star Wars canon outside the movies, from The Clone Wars to a few comics to a brief book appearance, and a big part in season 2 and 3 of Star Wars Rebels, shedding the "Darth" title and becoming one of the best character arcs in the whole franchise.
Unfortunately, not everyone loved the scene. A number of fans take issues with it, and we've even published a piece criticizing it. But, in the fairness of debate, this will serve as a counterpoint to show why the scene doesn't only work, but also means great things for the future of Star Wars.
- This Page: Why it Had to be Darth Maul
- Page 2: It's Not a Barrier for Casual Audiences
Why it Had to Be Darth Maul
After getting over the initial shock of seeing Darth Maul alive and well on the big screen, some audience members began to question why it was Darth Maul playing the role of crime boss? When the trailers hinted at a Dryden Vos working for someone else, speculation immediately began to swirl that it could be Jabba the Hutt, but Maul makes far more sense. When we last saw Maul in Star Wars canon, he was the leader of the Shadow Collective, the largest criminal conglomerate the galaxy had ever known. He brought the Hutt Clans, the Pyke Syndicate, Black Sun, and the entire planet of Mandalore to their knees in front of him. He was defeated, driven from Mandalore, and the Shadow Collective as we knew it was fractured, but there's no reason to believe Maul lost all influence in the criminal underworld.
Solo: A Star Wars Story takes place 6-10 years after we last saw Maul, and finds him at the head of Crimson Dawn, which he rules from his home planet of Dathomir (who's red star likely inspired the organization's name). We're missing a few years of story, but based on where we left Maul, it makes a lot of sense that we'd find him where we do in Solo. In fact, if they had chosen another criminal figurehead like Jabba, or brought Shadows of the Empire's Prince Xizor out or Legends continuity, they would need to explain around how that person wrested control of the criminal underworld away from Maul (a story likely saved for the small screen or a book).
It might have been a shocking reveal, but it's a case of Lucasfilm sticking to canon over finding a way to cater to the knowledge of casual Star Wars fans who might not know that Maul is even alive, much less a major player in Star Wars' underworld.
When it comes to the scene itself, even some fans that appreciate the character's return are dissatisfied with the scene, suggesting it has no place in a story about Han Solo. While it's true that Darth Maul is one of the last characters you'd least expect to pop up in a movie about young Han, it's important to remember that this scene has nothing to do with the titular character. This scene is entirely about Qi'ra and her arc.
Having just betrayed and defeated her old master, Dryden Vos in hand to hand combat (utilizing Teräs Käsi), Qi'ra is abandoning Han to continue her life as a part of Crimson Dawn. The fact that she's pledging herself to Maul, who's even more evil and scary looking than Dryden Vos, is there to show how truly committed she is. If Qi'ra merely left, it'd be a selfish decision, just like Lando, who also fled Savareen in his moment of need. While the audience knows Lando comes back into the story as a good guy (eventually), for Qi'ra, this scene confirms she's past the point of no return, making the scene entirely necessary.
Some complaints are based more around the simple shock factor of the reveal. If it had been a lower profile character, the enormity of the reveal wouldn't threaten to derail the final scenes of the movie with a shocking reveal. However, as already discussed, Maul's place of influence in the galaxy's criminal world is unavoidable, and another character, particularly a character we don't already know, wouldn't communicate just how committed Qi'ra is to her decision in the same way.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019