Hello out there! After this week’s bombshell news of Colin Trevarrow exiting the role of director for Episode IX, lots of fans out there have been wondering who could take over the helm? Let’s take a moment and ponder who would be the best choice to take on the mantle going forward.
Episode IX is an extremely crucial film. It is the end of a trilogy, and possibly the end of the episodic Star Wars saga. Well, if you want my humble opinion, I think they will do X,XI,XII, or at least I hope…but that’s a point for another time. For now, let’s focus on Episode IX.
Earlier this week, we discussed why we think Trevarrow and Lucasfilm parted ways. In particular, we speculated that this is all to uphold a vision for Star Wars. Things have to be a certain way to maintain some of the things that make Star Wars great. A recent article from Vulture adds to this, suggesting that Trevarrow may have been a bit arrogant, and there was some static between him and Kathy Kennedy. Nobody knows for sure, but it may be a mix of the two. Either way, I would think that whoever fills these shoes better use some tact if and when they disagree with the eight-time Academy Award-nominated president of Lucasfilm.
So here goes. Here is our list of the best candidates for director of Episode IX. Let’s start with the obvious choices.
Rian Johnson was once claimed to be writing Episode IX, but later confirmed that he did not. However, setting up the dominoes in The Last Jedi puts him in a pretty good vantage point to knock them down in IX. That, and the fact that he has created a film that apparently is the rare case that had absolutely no conflict with Lucasfilm higher-ups. The guy is brilliant, and a nice gentleman to boot. He could do it, and given the rumor that TLJ is basically done at this point, gives him a little free time to start working on IX.
JJ Abrams is an excellent filmmaker and writer. He has saved and rebooted several franchises suggesting that he would be a great candidate. That said, most of his best work has been in starting/rebooting a saga, not closing one. So he might be a bit untested in that regard, but he is very talented, and has proven that he can make a successful Star Wars film. The big question is, does JJ have the time and inclination to take that chair again?
George Lucas has said he’s retired, but at one point the maker had said that he would want to direct the last trilogy. GL obviously knows and understands Star Wars better than anyone, but what would it take to make him come back? My guess is he would expect to have complete control. I can’t see Lucas compromising his vision for others in Lucasfilm. If there is any truth to the Vulture article mentioned above, then this wouldn’t fit with the current structure at Lucasfilm. However, let’s put the two together and think that maybe as a retired director, he wouldn’t mind having the support of the story group, and others to bounce ideas off of. Maybe he would benefit from some critical discussions about his ideas, and avoid some of the criticisms of the prequels.
You know, Lucasfilm is like no other outlet, in that they have the power to basically pluck any director they want and give them the dream job of directing an episodic Star Wars film.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) August 26, 2017
I’m a bit skeptical about this possibility. I just don’t think Howard has the time. He’ll be working on Han Solo well into next year, which just doesn’t give him the time. Talent? absolutely. Time? Not looking good.
A lot of people know Jordan Peele as part of the comedic duo Key and Peele. The guy is hilarious and no doubt as impeccable comedic sense. He also is a great director. His recent film Get Out might indicate that he can direct an action-packed thriller, and given the frequent references to sci-fi in Key and Peele, I think he might have it in him. He always struck me as pretty well-steeped in geek culture, and might be an interesting pick.
Mimi Leder is the director of Deep Impact, and many other films that could be considered scifi/fantasy. While she is best known, and highly awarded as a TV director, it would be great to have a female perspective on the end of Rey’s journey, and Mimi’s sci-fi chops are among the best out there for female directors.
The Selma director allegedly passed up on directing Black Panther for reasons that may conflict with Lucasfilm. She wanted the film to be her own, and directing for a big franchise may prevent her taking ownership of the creative process. A lot of young, talented directors have this qualm, and Rian Johnson even said that at first this was a concern. However, if she could meet the Lucasfilm story group and likes how they work, she could change her mind.
While the Hulk movie received mixed reviews, this guys is a two-time Oscar winner. I don’t think anyone on the list can say that. Looking at his CV, he can do just about anything. With movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it is clear that he knows the genre of fantasy very well. Others like Sense and Sensibility show that he can direct a love story very well.
Patty Jenkins has worked with a big studio for a tent pole film and a female lead. She did a fantastic job with Wonder Woman and would definitely do justice to Rey’s story. She interacts with fans like Rian and other members of Lucasfilm. Plus she still hasn’t signed on to direct Wonder Woman 2 yet. I wonder why?
The Oscar-nominated Shaft and 2 Fast 2 Furious director has some excellent directing experience. He’s proven he can direct some big-budget hollywood films, and if he is interested in expanding his genre-scope a bit, he might be an excellent choice. He has criticized Hollywood on not giving black directors a chance, even in directing black-themed films. This would be a great chance to give him this long-overdue opportunity.
There is no question in my mind that James Cameron could do it. He has the talent and skill to direct a major sci-fi blockbuster several times over. But with a sequel to Avatar in the works, my guess is he will be busy for the timeframe under consideration.
Peter Jackson is another one of those names that comes to mind as being a perfect fit. He understands the genre, perhaps better than anyone. He even played an April Fools joke claiming to have a script for Episode VIII. I wouldn’t have any problem with this choice. While some of the reviews for The Hobbit have been less than great, moviegoers liked the film, and it was fun. I think he could do it, and with the help of Lucasfilm, it could be an amazing film.
The motion picture Jupiter Ascending was critically panned, as have many of the Wachowski’s films of late. Could the siblings direct Star Wars? I think they probably could, especially with the help of Lucasfilm. Sure, they don’t need help, but any director could use a hand or two in making a good film of this magnitude. Perhaps with a hand, they could address the criticisms of their previous films.
David Lynch is another name that comes to mind of a venerable director that could take the helm. Lynch passed on directing Return of the Jedi many years ago, but who knows if his feelings have changed.
So in summary, there are a lot of options out there. The best bet at this point is to get someone with a lot of experience making the kind of film that Star Wars is, and that Episode IX needs to be. Names that I haven’t mentioned that fit this category are Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam, Christopher Nolan and Alex Proyas. The big question is do they have the time, and are they willing to be a part of a huge franchise where they may not have 100% creative control.