With the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story now entering its first week, Ron Howard and Jon Kasdan have spoken up about elements from the movie, most notably a particular character in the film. However, inconsistencies in their statements hint at a few secrets still up Lucasfilm’s sleeve. It’s now made even more chin-scratching due to a cast member comment on a podcast. There are major Solo spoilers in this post.
SPOILERS beyond this point.
It’s the one thing everyone is talking about in Solo: the appearance of none other than Darth Maul, a character that was brought back in The Clone Wars TV show. Recently, Ron Howard and Jon Kasdan did an interview with slashfilm where they expanded on the decision to include Darth Maul. Ron Howard’s answer comes first.
“It’s interesting you didn’t take on the prequels because this movie reintroduces one of the favorite characters from the prequels, Darth Maul. Could you talk a little bit about that and why you went in that direction?”
Ron: “I will say that was scripted and there was a lot of uncertainty as to who that character would be. So it was sort of initially written in a rather generic way.”
Ron: “It just sort of said “Boss”. And I thought when I came in, I assumed they knew who it was and they were just keeping it under wraps. And they didn’t. But Maul was listed as one of the candidates. And I lobbied hard for that. I thought that made a lot of sense to me. I found that character to be really effective. And I knew for a fact, without asking directly and giving anything away, my son Reed who just turned 31, who’s a dedicated Star Wars fan, he’s a golfer. He’s not in the business. Dedicated Star Wars fan. I just whispered that possibility and he just thought that would be incredibly cool. And so for that generation, I thought, well that was gonna be a pretty interesting idea. And doing a little more research and understanding sort of how the character had worked elsewhere, I thought it was good. And the Kasdan’s were on board with that. And but then we actually shot it twice. Because we did it once. And then we realized we, it wasn’t quite Maul enough yet.”
From this, we can deduce that the decision to include Darth Maul was a very late addition. The character was originally written as ‘Boss’, a blank slate. Ron fought for the character to be Maul based on a list of candidates. He discussed it with the Kasdans, and they were on board. Seems simple enough. This suggests that Maul wasn’t in the film when Lord & Miller were on board.
However, things get complicated and extremely confusing when Jon Kasdan is later asked about the addition of Darth Maul.
“When I was talking to Ron, he mentioned when he first got the draft of the script, the ending just said Boss, it didn’t say Maul.“
“But it seems like you–”
Jonathan: “I was always sort of, I was trying to design it in such a way that everyone who read it would feel that they had thought to put him in there. And no one would realize that it was always what I wanted. And even Larry was sort of ambivalent about it at the beginning and then came to fully embrace the Maul of it all. But yeah, no, there’s subtle clues and even in the name Crimson Dawn I think it’s sort of setup to be this guy’s organization and where he goes after the many adventures he has in Clone Wars and the like.”
His answer makes no sense and cannot correlate with Ron Howard’s answer. His answer suggests that Jon wrote the script to suggest that it would be Darth Maul, but not directly state that it’s him. Solo does hint at the later appearance of Maul, but the big question is: why didn’t Jon simply write him to be Maul? Why did he only have to hint at it in the hopes that Ron would be on board with it? It’s also important to note that Jon’s guidance to suggest the ‘Boss’ be Maul was “ridiculously obscure” (as fellow blogger Robo pointed out) and requires that they “didn’t settle on Maul until after Lord & Miller left.”
The interview is made even more questionable. In a recent ForceCenter podcast, host Ken Napzok explains that Sam Witwer (a friend of his, and the voice of Maul in Solo) has known he would voice Maul in Solo for over two years. How would he be sure of that if the decision was finalized with Ron Howard?
These contradictions suggest there is more to be revealed about the future of the franchise. We haven’t been given a straight answer on the Maul decision, so we’ll see how that develops.