Maz Kanata’s Untapped Potential in the Star Wars Timeline
A Force-being with a long lifespan should be used for more than narrating other characters’ stories.
A little while ago, I reread through the entire collection of Age of Comics. The series collection of one-shots explored characters through the Republic, Rebellion, and Resistance Ages. The usuals were the characters that got a spotlight story (Han, Luke, Anakin, Darth Vader, and Rey). There were a few unusual but welcome choices like Jabba the Hutt and Supreme Leader Snoke. Then there was the specials, where they combined three character stories into one more extensive issue. The Age of Rebellion and Age of Resistance featured the two characters with the most extended lifespan in the galaxy: Yoda and Maz Kanata. The Yoda-focused short story was a great piece that saw Yoda go about his daily routine on Dagoba, thinking about his past failings before seeing Luke Skywalker arrive from The Empire Strikes Back.
In Age of Resistance, Maz Kanata’s story not only doesn’t seem to take place during the Age of Resistance, but it also is a team-up story with Han and Chewie. Now, she cleverly uses Chewie’s presence to scare a group of mercenaries that stole something from her, so, understandably, the character Maz involved the Wookiee. But the writing team couldn’t think of a Maz-focused story that didn’t involve other established characters?
Especially because the last panel suggests that Maz knows a lot more about a lot more interesting things in the Star Wars universe.
This type of storytelling has become a regular thing with Maz Kanata in canon, having her be on the outskirts of someone else’s story, even when it means to be her own. The most egregious of this was the two-season micro series Forces of Destiny, in which we only mostly hear Maz Kanata’s voice to begin the roughly two to three-minute shorts. Maz did have intro scenes that showed her in her daily life and even interacting with Hondo Ohnaka. Those are all cut from the Disney Plus version. As presented on the streaming service, Maz Kanata introduces the stories involving female characters like Leia, Padme, Ahsoka, Rey, Hera, Jyn, and Sabine through narration. Maz Kanata appears once in the episode “Bounty Hunted,” where she helps Leia secure the Boushh disguise to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt.
But was this the initial intention with Maz Kanata? Maybe. As is often the case with Sequel trilogies or reboots, characters created are recycled and revised versions of legacy characters. Maz was indeed conceived as a Sequel Trilogy Yoda to be the mentor figure for the protagonist. The preliminary screenwriter of The Force Awakens, Michael Arndt, envisioned the character belonging to Yoda’s species. Then Arndt and JJ Abrams bonded over the fact that they had the same high school teacher, so they molded Maz Kanata to be a tribute to her.
The character design is not the best in the Star Wars universe, but it is one of the most differentiating factors about her. Both Maz and Yoda are short. Both are old (though Maz is older), and both are species that remain a mystery.
However, the main differentiating factor between Maz and Yoda is that Maz is still alive in the current Star Wars timeline. Of course, Yoda as a Force ghost could always appear, but Maz is not a Jedi. And for someone who has been in every significant Star Wars era, very little is known about her. She is always around but always in the background.
May I offer another suggestion to Lucasfilm: How about we get some meaningful stories focused on Maz Kanata from the other eras before the Rise of the First Order?
The High Republic
Maz first appeared in The High Republic in IDW The High Republic Adventures #9 as an old friend of Jedi Master Sav Malagán, who found the Jedi Qort as a baby.
Maz does look to play a more significant part in Phase Two, even though it will be set 150 years before Phase One, with the second The High Republic Adventures series following Sav and her first meeting with Maz.
The Fall of the Republic
Maz’s activity during this time is a mystery as there is no substantial mention in a canon story of what she is up to, so the sky is the limit for more content during this era, including the Prequel Trilogy.
The Reign of the Empire
There is also not too much from Maz during this time. The answer could be in the game Star Wars: Republic Commando. The game franchise, which has been around since 2005, has not been confirmed as canon but includes Maz Kanata. In the game, you are a mercenary hired by Kanata, concerned that the Empire is collecting intel on her. Your mission is to destroy the Imperial targets to prevent the Empire from learning more about her.
It would make sense that a Force-sensitive being older than Yoda would be a target of the Empire. And it is more than enough reason for Maz to keep a low profile. However, it would be cool to canonize the Star Wars Commando story and see or read about Maz during this scary time for Force-sensitives.
Age of Rebellion
Continuing into the rise of the Rebellion, Maz’s adventures remain a mystery as she never joins the Rebel Alliance. The Star Wars Book notes that Maz Kanata preferred to remain apolitical during times of conflict (until the First Order destroys her home in The Force Awakens). Based on her appearance in Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt, we know that she is at her Takadona Castle after this era, but it is unclear if she remained there throughout Imperial rule.Considering that this time is the most popular era for canon storytelling and includes many of Han and Chewie’s adventures, I do expect more Maz to appear in future stories within this period.
The New Republic
Next to The High Republic, this Star Wars era is the most fertile ground for Maz to appear outside the Sequel Trilogy timeline. The Empire is gone, so she no longer has to worry about them gathering intel, and the New Republic government has its hands full in the Core worlds. I am surprised that the Mandalorian has not already run into Maz in the two seasons. Still, Takodano is far from the Outer Rim planets Mando frequents. But it is a place to go for loans, repairs, and hiding out, which might be something Mando could use in future seasons.
And there are still some unanswered questions involving Maz, the main two being how she got Anakin and Luke’s lightsaber and what her species is. I am confident we will get the answer to one of those, but I doubt we will get the answer to both. Still, retaining some mystery surrounding a person older than Yoda is fine as long as we get more substance.