WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters now.
He met his end at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the closing moments of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Or so we thought... until he returned in The Clone Wars to enact revenge on his rivals and masters. More recently, with his appearances in Star Wars: Rebels, Darth Maul became a thread that connected two eras of the Star Wars Universe.
With that series' conclusion, it seemed like Maul's story was over, both past and present. So color us surprised to see none other than Darth Maul lurking behind the villainous subplot of Solo: A Star Wars Story. But what may come across to some fans as fan service could actually open the floodgates to a more connected Star Wars universe than ever.
A Brief History of Darth Maul
There was something captivating about the lead-up to 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Part of that was due to the fact it had been so long since fans had a chance to explore the Star Wars universe in live-action, a chance to revisit a galaxy far, far away and see it on everything from commemorative Pepsi cans to PEZ dispensers. But perhaps the most captivating and mysterious part of the film was its villain, the black cloak-clad, crimson-faced, spiky-headed terror that is Darth Maul. Sure, we were all waiting to have some blanks filled in as to how Anakin Skywalker goes from a spunky little kid to a galactic fear monger, but there was something new, something dangerous, about Maul.
So when he died at the end of The Phantom Menace, fans were confused. The promise of a new, terrifying threat turned out to be empty, leaving us with just The Emperor and Darth Vader. The creator of Star Wars: The Clone Wars obviously felt similarly, so when they had a chance to resurrect the fan favorite character, they took it, and Maul was back in the game.
But Clone Wars' Maul wasn't the silent, deadly character he had been in The Phantom Menace. Now, he was an articulate, battered foe hellbent on revenge on not only Obi-Wan, the man who cost him his legs and livelihood, but on Emperor Palpatine. It was a dynamic we hadn't seen, a mysterious and unpredictable threat lurking and advancing on the good and bad guys.
We learned plenty about Maul's heritage and family tree, like the vicious Savage Opress, through episodes of the show and an in -canon comic book, Son of Dathomir, one of the few comic stories to survive the Legends purge following Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm.
Maul later made the jump to Star Wars: Rebels for one final showdown with the aged Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, where he finally met his end. With this, the two cartoon series had been linked, but that was nothing new. After all, Ahsoka Tano had already done that.
And now there's the prospect of more Darth Maul in our future.