WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters now.
While Solo: A Star Wars Story features familiar faces and references from decades of franchise lore, a certain cameo undoubtedly surprised audiences. In the final act, as Han sets out to rescue Chewbacca, his one-time love interest Qi'ra takes control of Crimson Dawn. Having killed the group's previous leader, Dryden Vos, she contacts the shadowy figure behind the criminal organization, revealed to be none other than former Sith Lord Darth Maul.
"I was really passionate about him all the way through," co-writer Jonathan Kasdan admitted to Uproxx about the character's inclusion. "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 just had to know he was the guy who could control someone like Dryden. So he was part of the DNA of the thing."
Last seen in live-action in 1999's Star Wars: The Phantom Menace being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, the former Darth Maul has since become a fan-favorite character. The animated Clone Wars TV series revealed that the powerful apprentice of Darth Sidious survived his grievous injury and replaced his legs with robotic limbs. Those prosthetics can be seen in Solo, along with Maul's updated double-bladed lightsaber, during his brief conversation with Qi'Ra via hologram.
With Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich contracted for three movies, the chances of the up-and-coming scoundrel running into Maul are high. Despite that, the writers don't think this potential encounter would change Han from the Force skeptic introduced in 1977's Star Wars.
"He doesn’t believe in the Force, and we know that ahead of time," co-writer Lawrence Kasdan said. "But he doesn’t ever have to! The only acceptance he has – over three movies that I wrote! – is so slim. You know, he never really comes to believe. He’s always the skeptic."
In theaters now, director Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett.