If you haven’t heard, Lucasfilm is currently seeking a new director to helm Star Wars: Episode IX now that Colin Trevorrow has left the project. Clearly, Lucasfilm is having some trouble finding directors who can bring a unique flair to the Star Wars franchise while still adhering to the company’s long-term vision for the series.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of good candidates out there. We can think of eight directors in particular we want to see jump behind the camera, whether on Episode IX or a future installment in the constantly growing Star Wars saga.
Rian Johnson’s first Star Wars movie isn’t even out yet and we’re already daydreaming about his return to the franchise. And why not? The Last Jedi looks excellent (from what little we’ve seen), and Johnson’s small but impressive Hollywood resume speaks for itself.
Plus, there’s the fact that The Last Jedi so far seems to be the only new Star Wars film immune to the behind-the-scenes drama that’s plagued all the others to some degree or another. Johnson clearly has a knack for working within the constraints of a massive corporate franchise. Lucasfilm needs to find someone ready and primed to take over Episode IX. Maybe there’s no one better positioned to do that than the man currently overseeing post-production on Episode VIII. Indeed, word has it that Johnson is currently up for the Ep. IX job.
Michelle MacLaren’s name has come up a lot on lists of potential Star Wars directors, and for good reason. While she has yet to direct a feature film, MacLaren has plenty of experience directing critically acclaimed TV shows like Breaking Bad, The X-Files, Westworld and Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones may as well qualify as a big-budget film given how expensive and cinematic that series has become.
It may be in Lucasfilm’s best interests to start looking more towards the TV world for its future directors. Directors like MacLaren are accustomed to working in high-pressure environments with less creative control and still delivering strong results. Having her take on a Star Wars movie would be a nice consolation prize for her dropping out of Warners’ Wonder Woman movie.
Brad Bird has done some terrific work under the Disney umbrella over the years, including Pixar gems like Ratatouille and The Incredibles and the criminally underappreciated Tomorrowland. Bird tends to work with his own concepts and creations, but he does have valuable franchise experience thanks to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, widely regarded as one of the best in that series. And it’s worth remembering that Bird was originally one of the directors approached to direct The Force Awakens.
Basically, Bird offers a very well-rounded package. He can do action, adventure, comedy and heartwarming drama. His movies usually appeal to kids as readily as adults, which is always a good thing with Star Wars. And he has plenty of experience working inside the Disney machine, meaning a Brad Bird Star Wars movie would hopefully avoid the problems Rogue One and Han Solo have faced.
One of the reasons Lucasfilm has had so much trouble retaining Star Wars directors is that they’ve shown a habit of plucking up-and-coming indie filmmakers who simply don’t have enough blockbuster experience. That wouldn’t be an issue with Ryan Coogler. Coogler made a name for himself with 2013’s Fruitvale Station before jumping to more mainstream projects like Creed and 2018’s Black Panther movie. Creed successfully revitalized the Rocky franchise after everyone assumed it was finished, and Black Panther is looking like a very promising addition to the MCU.
Coogler has shown a clear knack for balancing the needs of the corporate franchise with an ability to tell unique stories with a strong artistic vision. We wouldn’t be surprised if Lucasfilm was knocking on his door once post-production wraps on Black Panther.
Matt Reeves has enjoyed a very successful run over the past decade, directing everything from Cloverfield to Let Me In to the latter two entries in Fox’s rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy. And Warner Bros. obviously has enough faith in Reeves’ abilities to hand him the reins of the Batman franchise. Is Star Wars such a stretch at that point?
Reeves seems like an excellent fit for Star Wars given his skill at blending amazingly realistic CG characters with very human, emotionally rich drama. Plus, his strong relationship with The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams can’t hurt his prospects. We assume The Batman will keep Reeves busy for the next couple years, but surely there’s room for a Star Wars spinoff after that.
Ava DuVernay is another name being frequently thrown about to take on a Star Wars movie. After making a huge splash with 2014’s Selma, DuVernay is now hard at work on Disney’s 2018 adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. That’s just the sort of high-profile, big-budget project that a future Star Wars director would need. And with DuVernay already making history by being the first black woman to direct a film budgeted at more than $100 million, we’d love to see her shatter another barrier by being the first woman to direct a Star Wars movie.
Like MacLaren, DuVernay is also notable for turning down the opportunity to direct Black Panther. She’s a disciplined enough filmmaker to not take on projects that aren’t the right fit. So if DuVernay is some day announced to direct a Star Wars film, we can be pretty sure that she’ll be on board for the long haul.
2015’s Ant-Man is a bittersweet film. Not because it’s a bad addition to the MCU, but because it was almost directed by Edgar Wright. Between Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver, Wright has established himself as one of the most unique and dynamic voices in Hollywood. And while 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wasn’t a big financial success, it showed Wright’s talent for adapting a beloved franchise and pleasing fickle fans in the process.
Obviously, Wright’s past creative tension with Marvel Studios bodes poorly for the odds of him taking on a Star Wars movie. But given the right project (likely a standalone film rather than a direct sequel), we think Wright would be a terrific fit for a galaxy far, far away. And we already know he’s a true fan, too.
Hard as it is to believe now, there was a time when the Fast & Furious franchise seemed destined to fade away into obscurity. Then Justin Lin came along, not only reviving the series, but turbo-charging it to become one of the biggest movie franchises in the world. Lin also took charge of the famously troubled Star Trek Beyond, crafting one of the better Trek sequels in the process. Basically, if you’re a studio exec who needs a dependable director to salvage a trouble project, Justin Lin is the first person you call.
It’s not hard to see why Lin would be an attractive prospect for Lucasfilm. Lin knows how to work with massive budgets and deliver stylish, crowd-pleasing films. He might be just the guy to steer the new Star Wars trilogy to a successful finish. If JJ Abrams can make the jump from Star Trek to Star Wars, why not Lin?