'Solo' Ending Explained: How Is [SPOILER] Alive and Will There Be a Sequel?

Jabba the Hutt isn't the first gangster to put a price on Han Solo's head. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, the not-yet-a-smuggler finds himself in debt to a dangerous crime syndicate called Crimson Dawn, specifically a high-ranking gangster named Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), who happens to employ Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), Solo's old flame from his youth on Corellia. But while Vos is certainly dangerous, he's not the real power at the top of the Crimson Dawn. Instead, the end of Solo reveals (not an after credits scene, as many are describing it), the Crimson Dawn is actually run by none other than Darth Maul (Ray Park).

Solo: A Star Wars Story Ending Explained: How Is Darth Maul Alive?

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Sorry, General Grievous is not in "Solo: A Star Wars Story"... just didn't want to spoil the Darth Maul reveal. Lucasfilm

Yes, the very same Darth Maul who got chopped in half and tumbled down a pit in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. So how is Darth Maul alive (and will he show up in possible sequels)?

Before Solo, Disney/Lucasfilm have kept the Star Wars movies separate from the bewildering universe of novels, comics, TV shows and video games. At most, a movie would throw a wink or nod to another Star Wars adventure, like adding Saw Gerrera, from animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. No backstory was required to understand his role in Jyn Erso's life. But the Darth Maul appearance is different. Without an understanding of events in The Clone Wars, Maul's surprise reveal barely makes sense. He's got robotic legs now? And how do you survive a licking as bad as the one Obi-Wan Kenobi gives him? Or the subsequent thousand-foot tumble, again, cut in half?

The answers starts with Darth Maul's brother, who bears the unwieldy name Savage Opress. In the third season of The Clone Wars, Savage learns that his brother might be alive and goes on the hunt for Maul. He doesn't find him until Season 4, on Lotho Minor, a trash world. Yep, Maul got taken out with Naboo garbage and clung to life with the help of the Dark Side. Opress finds his brother in poor shape, the top half of his body strapped to rickety, mechanical spider legs. Maul has gone mad, consumed by rage, giggling and crying. Still, he knows the words "Jedi" and "revenge," so that's something to go on.

With the help of a Dathomir Witch, Darth Maul preps himself for vengeance upon Obi-Wan, acquires a new pair of bionic legs similar (if not identical) to the ones he has in Solo: A Star Wars Story. He gets in a bunch of adventures with his brother, including kidnapping Obi-Wan.

But to understand his sudden reappearance in Solo , look to a three-episode run in the fifth season of The Clone Wars: "Eminence," "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless." In those episodes, Maul and Opress unite the several crime syndicates, including the Hutt Cartel and the Pyke Syndicate (both referenced in Solo), under one banner: The Shadow Collective. But after the Shadow Collective took over the planet Mandalore (where Boba Fett's armor comes from), Darth Sidious decided the resurrected Maul was getting a bit too big for his metal britches.

In "The Lawless," Sidious duels Maul and Savage on Mandalore, killing Maul's brother and ending The Shadow Collective, leading to the tenuous alliances in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where the Crimson Dawn barely maintains a cease-fire with the Pyke Syndicate. Presumably, the Crimson Dawn is a new crime organization founded by Maul (he's no longer a Darth) after the break-up of the Shadow Collective. Maul is even voiced by The Clone Wars voice actor, Sam Witwer, in Solo, indicating the continuity between the animated series and the movie.

With Darth Maul Back, Is A 'Solo' Sequel In The Works?

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Darth Maul backstory begins with Lord Darth Sidious Star Wars/Disney

Now that Maul's back, how will the Star Wars movies use him? That depends on sequels. While a direct sequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story hasn't been announced, Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich told Esquire he's signed up for three movies. A sequel seems almost inevitable. Even if the next adventure sees Solo taking orders from Jabba, it appears certain Maul will return, especially since the Crimson Dawn will be out for revenge (and we know Maul is very vengeful) after Solo failed to deliver what he promised at the end of Solo.

There's just one problem. Maul appears in another animated series, Star Wars Rebels, set after the events of Solo. Without getting into specifics, let's just say Maul has a conclusive out point. Maul isn't going to be popping up in Star Wars: Episode IX. But so long as theoretical Solo sequels are set in the same basic time period, after The Clone Wars, but before Rebels, there's nothing stopping him from becoming Han Solo and Chewbacca's number one nemesis.