It's time to talk about the scene from Solo that absolutely stunned Star Wars fans
"Nobody saw this one coming..."
By the beard of a Bantha!
If you haven't seen Solo: A Star Wars Story, consider this to be your spoiler alert warning. If you're curious about the latest saga in the galaxy that's far, far away, you can check out our review here and Rory Cashin's take on why it's the perfect Star Wars film that people that don't even like Star Wars.
Ok, punch it!
Still with us? You don't want another spoiler alert? Ok, because you're not getting one.
DARTH 'MOTHERF**KIN' MAUL agrees!
Yes, that's right. He's back.
The man that kicked-ass in the greatest ever lightsaber fight in the Star Wars films. A villain that was so cool, criminally underused and sinister that the few lines he got in The Phantom Menace are still endlessly quotable. A Sith that caused 'nerdgasms' with the single flicker of his double-edged lightsaber. A badass that's so bad, he managed to kill Liam Neeson - seriously, who can mess with Liam Neeson?
All things considered, we were absolutely pumped to see this horny devil return but there are a few obvious questions that need to be asked.
Is this the same Darth Maul that died , or was he cloned?
Yep, it's the very same Sith that was sliced in two by a young Obi-Wan Kenobi during that epic fight at the end of The Phantom Menace.
What about the timeline?
Solo: A Star Wars Story takes place roughly two decades after The Phantom Menace, and around 11 to 14 years before A New Hope.
Ok, erm, how is he still alive?
Eagle-eyed viewers in Solo: A Star Wars Story might have noticed that when Maul stood up to address Qi’ra at the end of the film, the camera revealed some robotic limbs that were attached to his lower half.
Ok, we're about to discuss something that's a bit of a contradiction but indulge us for a moment.
When Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas, they made it clear that the other properties in the franchise - comics, TV shows, books etc - won't be treated as cannon, but Maul's return was already portrayed in the animated series: The Clone Wars and Rebels. Perhaps the next Star Wars films will lift from the animated shows and incorporate Maul - more about that later.
Ok, what the Sith happened to him?
Essentially, after the events of Episode I, Maul's brother, Savage Opress, finds his mutilated body on a junkyard planet named Lotho Minor that's solely used to dump trash.
After encountering the pointy end of a lightsaber and being cut in half, Maul has tuned insane and has become so consumed with the dark side of the force that his thirst for revenge gives him strength.
Ultimately, a character named Mother Talzin — the head witch of the Nightsisters on Maul's home planet of Dathomir - fuses his body with robot spider legs. His mind is healed and he begins to work with, and recruit, various criminal gangs throughout the galaxy including: the Black Sun, Pyke crime families, and the Hutts as they come together to form the Shadow Collective syndicate.
Perhaps this arc is reflected in Qi'ra and her involvement with the Crimson Dawn in Solo: A Star Wars Story? Maybe the Solo franchise is 'sort of' mirroring this plot line by taking a few liberties.
Ultimately, Maul's increasing power becomes a threat to his former Master, Darth Sidious, and the man that's most famously known as The Emperor aims to take him down.
This being said, Maul is solely focused on one thing, getting revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi and he even learns that the former Jedi Master has gone into exile on Tatooine.
What does this mean for the franchise?
Alden Ehrenreich is reportedly signed on to return as Han Solo for more films, so it's fair to assume that Darth Maul's arc will also be stretched out further in the next standalone Solo film.
Also, wouldn't it be cool to see Emilia Clarke's character being groomed as his potential apprentice? If so, she could become the first female character that's schooled in the ways of the Sith in the Star Wars live-action films.
James Mangold (Logan) looks set to bring the standalone Boba Fett film to the big screen and Maul could also make an appearance in that film, especially given the bounty hunter's close ties to various criminal organisations throughout the galaxy.
Finally, the showdown we're all waiting for. Will Darth Maul be the main villain in Stephen Daldry's upcoming Kenobi film? After all, they do have an angry, personal and very violent history.
Another lightsaber fight? We're up for that.