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Solo's big cameo: Everything we know about the Star Wars character

It's been a while since movie audiences have seen this Star Wars character.

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The biggest shock of Solo: A Star Wars Story has little to do with Han.

Lucasfilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn't have a mid- or post-credits scene, but it does have one heck of a cameo at the end.

It's a huge surprise with lots of potential ramifications for future Star Wars movies. So the following discussion merits a big ol' spoiler warning concerning the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, as well as details from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, along with speculation regarding where we think the movies will go in light of this revelation. Consider yourself warned, all ye who enter here.

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Yes, that is Darth Maul

After Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) gets all Game of Thrones-like and kills her boss, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), she decides to assume his role and begin working for his boss, Maul (Ray Park, voice by Sam Witwer). For more on the exact exchange, check out our explainer about the cameo scene here. You can also watch the cameo scene here, as posted by IGN ahead of the film's Sept. 14 digital release.

Maul's appearance here is gutsy. The last time movie viewers saw him was in 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, in which Maul murders Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) while his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) watches. Kenobi gets revenge by slicing Maul in half, sending him falling down a shaft.

Maul is seen only as a hologram in the movie, but Lucasfilm released some photos that show off his look.

Maul is seen only as a hologram in the movie, but Lucasfilm released some photos that show off his look.

Lucasfilm

So if your only interaction with the Star Wars universe has been the live-action movies, it would be understandable if you thought Maul had been dead for a long time.

But if you've been paying attention to the larger Star Wars universe -- specifically two animated shows that count as canon with the movies -- you probably knew Maul survived his encounter with Kenobi on Naboo.

The Clone Wars -- where Maul lives

The fallen Sith returns in season 4 of The Clone Wars after his brother, Savage Opress, finds him insane and walking on robot spider legs on the junkyard planet of Lotho Minor. After his mind is healed and he's given a new set of robotic legs, he goes on a campaign of vengeance against Kenobi.

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Darth Maul as he's seen during The Clone Wars series.

Lucasfilm

Maul is thwarted but starts to amass his own power base by building a criminal empire. This sees him recruiting the Black Sun and Pyke crime families, as well as the Hutts, to form the Shadow Collective syndicate.

He uses this criminal army to seize control of the planet Mandalore and indirectly takes vengeance against Kenobi by killing Duchess Satine Kryze -- the planet's ruler and love of Kenobi's life -- in front of him.

Maul's rule is cut short when his former master, Darth Sidious, realizes Maul has become a potential rival and decides to deal with him personally. Sidious goes to Mandalore and kills Opress, before taking Maul as his prisoner, in the season 5 episode The Lawless.

Maul escapes captivity in the tie-in comic Son of Dathomir, briefly battling with Count Dooku, whom Sidious took on as his replacement apprentice, and General Grievous.

Darth Maul as he's seen in Star Wars Rebels.

Darth Maul as he's seen in Star Wars Rebels.

Lucasfilm

Star Wars Rebels -- where Maul dies

Sometime in the years after Solo: A Star Wars Story, Maul is stranded on the desolate world of Malachor as he tries to retrieve an ancient superweapon from a Sith temple.

We don't know how he ended up trapped there. Could Qi'ra have betrayed him and arranged for him to crash-land? It's also worth noting that he refers to himself only as "Maul" at this point. He seems to have shed his Sith identity and lost the "Darth" title.

Maul fails to get the weapon but manages to escape Malachor and learns Kenobi has gone into exile on Tatooine.

His obsession with Kenobi draws him to the desert planet, where he meets his end, and finds a measure of peace, in a final duel with the Jedi Master.

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What does this mean for future Star Wars movies?

Maul's return to the live-action movies makes Solo the second Star Wars movie to fully acknowledge characters who've had a life in the Star Wars animated shows, following Rogue One's use of Saw Gerrera, first seen in The Clone Wars, and a cameo by the droid Chopper from Rebels.

Now that the live-action Star Wars movies are continuing to do this, here are a few ideas for Star Wars Story movies we think might make use of both Maul and similar connections.

In Solo, Maul is seen, in a hologram, with the same lightsaber he'll later use in Rebels.

In Solo, Maul is seen, in a hologram, with the same lightsaber he'll later use in Rebels.

Lucasfilm

Solo 2: Normally when a movie includes some kind of surprise setup for the future, it's for a direct sequel. Since Qi'ra will now be working directly for Maul, and Alden Ehrenreich is reportedly signed on to return as Han Solo for up to three films, it's reasonable to think their next meetup will occur while she serves her horned leader.

Boba Fett: The reported Boba Fett film directed by James Mangold, if official, could absolutely tie in to the criminal underworld established in Solo. In fact, since Fett's a bounty hunter by trade, it'd be surprising if it didn't. All it would take to bring Maul into Fett's story would be the right kind of job.

Maul even has a connection with the Mandalorians from The Clone Wars and Fett wears their armor, even though he isn't a true Mandalorian.

Ahsoka: A fan favorite of both The Clone Wars and Rebels television series, Ahsoka Tano is a former Jedi apprentice to Anakin Skywalker. While she leaves the Jedi Order after being wrongfully accused of sedition, she remains Force sensitive and would likely be on the run during the period of time shown in Solo.

She fought against Maul during the Siege of Mandalore, a battle that was supposed to be depicted in The Clone Wars before the show was canceled. It's briefly referenced in E. K. Johnston's Ahsoka novel.

Kenobi: The most obvious, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul have a long, angry rivalry that stretches decades. After Kenobi becomes aware of Maul surviving their previous duel during The Clone Wars, they end up rematching both during their younger years and a final time as much older men during Star Wars Rebels. A live-action expansion of any of these would be like a fireworks show and could be depicted in a flashback or flash-forward.

Maul: A standalone Maul movie would be a surprise, but there's a large gap of time between his escape from Sidious and his appearance in Solo. The Shadow Collective appears to have fallen, but Maul manages to form the Crimson Dawn in the intervening years. Could there be room for a Scarface-style rise to power within the Star Wars universe?

First published May 26 at 4 a.m. PT and regularly updated.

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