The following post contains SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Do not read it if you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars Story. Maybe just to be safe, don’t read it even if you have seen Solo: A Star Wars Story. Maybe just to be safe don’t read anything on the internet ever again. You really can’t be too careful these days.

Some movie deaths are ambiguous. The end of The Thing is deliberately open-ended. There are a lot of ways to interpret the finale of A Serious Man. But really, there’s not a lot ambiguous about getting cut in half and thrown down an endless shaft. That seems pretty concrete and definitive. Definitely if I cut you in half, dear reader, and tossed you down a thousand foot drop you would not survive (don’t take it personally; this is a hypothetical example).

So how the heck is Darth Maul still alive and kicking (with robot legs) in Solo: A Star Wars Story?

First of all, because a few people I’ve spoken with are a little confused about this: Yes, Solo takes place after the events of The Phantom Menace. As we see throughout Solo, the Empire is already fully formed, as it was at the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith. Plus, if there was still more doubt, Alden Ehrenreich, the guy playing the “young” Han Solo, is already 28 years old. Harrison Ford was 33 when Star Wars came out. Ehrenreich might read a little bit younger than his age, but not so much younger that Solo could be set in the days before Obi-Wan chopped Darth Maul like Ted Allen to a chef who couldn’t figure out how to combine chocolate and squid ink pasta into a single dish.

So, yes, Solo is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. And the last time movie viewers saw Maul, here is what he was up to:

Pretty dead, right? Apparently, Maul was, in fact, not quite dead. And then he got better. And now in Solo he’s in charge of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, giving orders to Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) after she kills Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and assumes control of his Crimson Dawn assets.

There are several comics and Star Wars stories that depict Maul alive from the period between The Phantom Menace and when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, which retroactively rendered all those comics and books out of continuity. Today, the canonical explanation for Maul’s resurrection is that he never died in the first place. Here’s how the official Star Wars website describes what happened after he fell down that hole:

Thought dead, Darth Maul survived his injuries by focusing on his hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi who cut him in half. His shattered body was dumped amid the refuse of the junk planet Lotho Minor, where the once deadly warrior fell into madness, staying alive on a diet of vermin. When found by his brother Savage Opress, Maul had no memory of who he was, rambled nonsensically, and had built hideous spider-like legs in place of his severed ones.

For more details on the how of Maul didn’t die, here are more details from Wookiepedia. Granted, that’s not an official source, but when has a wiki ever been wrong?

However, through his hate and will to survive, Maul used the Force to grab an air vent as he was tumbling down the reactor shaft. He then managed to make it to a trash container. Maul's shattered body was dumped on the junkyard world of Lotho Minor. He lived in the bowels of the planet and had his legs replaced by a six-legged apparatus that allowed him to walk again. During his exile, he made a bargain with a sentient sneaky Anacondan called Morley, who agreed to bring Maul food in return for his leftovers. Over the years, Maul was driven mad with rage and despair, but remained driven by thoughts of revenge against Kenobi.

Maul became an important supporting character on Star Wars Rebels, where he forged an alliance with Ezra Bridger, who he wanted to turn into his apprentice. (He also ditched the spider legs for the two you see him wearing in Solo.) Eventually his connection to Ezra led Maul to Obi-Wan, who was living in hiding on Tatooine (where he was secretly watching over the young Luke Skywalker). Finally, Maul got that rematch he always wanted.

Obviously, Solo takes place before the events of Rebels (or at least these events; they both take place in the interim between the prequels and the original Star Wars trilogy). And Maul’s role in the film, as the secretive leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, isn’t something he’s been connected to before. (Crimson Dawn is a new addition to Star Wars lore; it doesn’t even have its own page on What happens next in his story will probably depend on what Star Wars does next; whether they make the Solo sequel Maul’s appearance seems to hint at. Or he could always show up in Episode IX. Just because he “died” in that second fight with Obi-Wan doesn’t mean anything. Fool me once, shame on you...

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