As far as spinoff movies go, Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t quite generate the same level of excitement as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did, and ended up being a fun but forgettable Han Solo origin tale. But one aspect of the pic that did get everyone talking was Darth Maul’s unexpected cameo near the end of the film, a character who was a redeeming element of the Prequel Trilogy and has arguably not been given nearly enough screen time in cinemas.
For those who haven’t watched The Clone Wars, Maul’s appearance was an absolute shocker because the last time we’d seen him was in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, in which he was literally sliced in half. But Maul played a far greater role in the aforementioned animated series, with a deeply engaging storyline. In it, we see him start a criminal organization called the Shadow Collective, basically surviving on his rage and desire for revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Jedi.
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Qi’ra (played by Emilia Clarke) betrays the boss of the Crimson Dawn only for us to find out that the actual mastermind in the shadows was Darth Maul all along. The movie also tried to set up some sort of future story that involves Qi’ra being forced to work under Maul, as he orders her to join him on Dathomir. It was the promising beginning of a new character arc for Maul, but ended up being one that never materialized.
As ScreenRant explains:
Maul’s Solo cameo directly sets up him working closely with Qi’ra – who he instructs to join him on Dathomir – against Tobias Beckett and his crew, which means against Han Solo. Maul and Qi’ra going up against Han, then, would’ve been a key part of a potential Solo 2, and perhaps allowed Maul to step out of the shadows a little more, although given how so many in the galaxy would react to him being at large again it’s perhaps no surprise he chose to stay hidden. Star Wars loves redemption stories, though, while Maul’s story is oft-defined by failure, so it’s quite likely Qi’ra eventually would’ve turned against him, or at least attempted to – presumably at the cost of her own life.
While Solo 2 seemed like the staging ground for this new Qi’ra and Maul versus Solo dynamic, we’re probably never going to get to see how it would play out. After Solo: A Star Wars Story underperformed at the box office, quite possibly due to its rather lackluster and unimaginative narrative, the cameo amounted to nothing more than a brief teaser for what could have been. Unless it gets a revival in the form of a TV series on Disney Plus, that is.