Top 10 Directors Who Should Be at the Helm of 'Star Wars: Episode 7'
by Ethan Anderton
October 30, 2012
In case you haven't heard, the big news today is that Disney has just purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion and the studio is looking to release the long rumored, always anticipated, but never believed possible, Star Wars: Episode 7. We have no story details as to what characters we might follow, what adventures from the Expanded Universe could show up, but we can talk about the right kind of talent to bring Star Wars back to the bring screen in a way that George Lucas couldn't when he delivered The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Lucas mentioned passing Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers, and we've assembled a list of who we think should go into a galaxy far, far away. Read on!
First of all, you should know that there are a few directors who I didn't include on this list because they seemed too unrealistic or too busy. Christopher Nolan would never do a Star Wars film as he has already grown tired of franchises and sequels, and it's just not his style. Joss Whedon is pretty busy with Marvel and Phase Two of their cinematic universe. And while Steven Spielberg is Lucas' most trusted companion (he directed the Indiana Jones films and action sequences in Revenge of the Sith), this is supposed to be for the next generation of directors. So without further adieu, here's our picks for who should helm Episode 7.
What can we say? It's an obvious choice, but the guy did a bang-up job rebooting Star Trek in 2009 (though some hardcore Trekkies will disagree), and he is one of the finest, freshest and innovative directors working in Hollywood today. He reinvigorated the Mission: Impossible series (including getting Brad Bird to direct the fourth installment), and he knows how to make an event out of a movie like Cloverfield (and he brought us the talented director Matt Reeves in the process). If there's one guy who knows sci-fi, fan passion, and respect to long established mythology, it's J.J. Abrams.
Five years ago you wouldn't guess that Jon Favreau would ever be on a list like this. But then Iron Man came along, and now Favreau has been deep-rooted in the Marvel universe for the past half-decade. In addition to producing The Avengers, Favreau has been integral in building the Marvel universe to lead to the superhero ensemble this past year. If Iron Man didn't work, it would have been hard to get fans on board with any of the other Avengers that followed. Cowboys & Aliens may not have been that great, but Favreau knows action, adventure, and if you've heard him talk about his love for Star Wars and excitement after nabbing a voice role on the animated "Clone Wars" series, you know he's one of the biggest fans out there. After all, Han Solo isn't much different than Tony Stark, right?
A subtle master of sci-fi, Jones made a splash with the indie Moon, and word of mouth has made it a quiet hit, especially with cinephiles. Source Code was a little more conventional, but it showed that Jones knows how to direct a bigger tentpole, especially with the right material. Plus, you can't go wrong with an established filmmaker who was such a sci-fi nerd and Star Wars fan that he was showing off a pirated U-Matic copy of the film that his father had obtained before the film had reached cinemas in Switzerland. There's love and talent here for Star Wars fans for sure.
Fresh off Looper, Johnson is easily one of the hotter filmmakers right now. His earlier work with Brick and The Brothers Bloom got plenty of praise, but not much in the vein of box office dollars. Johnson would probably offer the most grounded take on the series, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Even the original Star Wars trilogy had some grit to it (especially before the "Special Editions" came along), and Johnson tackling a world after the Empire has been destroyed and the Rebellion is rebuilding their civilization would be very cool.
Skyfall. That's all you need to hear (especially after the film hits theaters next week), and Mendes will be at the top of every tentpole's wishlist for the next couple of months. Skyfall is undoubtedly the biggest film Mendes has ever done, and early buzz on the film is that it's the best James Bond film ever. That's kind of a big deal when you consider this will be the 23rd installment in the long-running spy franchise. Picking up a revered series like this will now be relatively easy for the director, and if you take into account certain characters that might show up in Episode 7 (such as the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia), he's done wonders with family drama (see Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, American Beauty).
The man hasn't made a bad film yet, and he's so engrained in nerd culture that fans would flip backwards to see Wright tackle Star Wars. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is evidence enough that Wright can handle stunning visuals and cool action, but combine that with his penchant for dry humor in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and you've got the makings of a great Star Wars movie. The humor in the prequels was certainly lacking, but Wright is an expert at infusing action set pieces with humor that doesn't feel out of place or disingenuous. Plus, if you've seen "Spaced", you know that Star Wars runs through his blood.
It's hard to envision Blomkamp doing a sci-fi film that isn't R-rated, but we can dream can't we? District 9 propelled Blomkamp to fame after it received a Best Picture nomination, and sci-fi films usually don't get that kind of treatment. In fact, Star Wars was essentially the first science fiction film nominated for Best Picture (though some say Dr. Strangelove is sci-fi), so Blomkamp would be a solid choice. Perhaps Elysium will get him on a director's shortlist when the time comes.
We already mentioned this director in the same breath as J.J. Abrams because the two worked closely together on the monster movie Cloverfield, but it was Reeves who directed the film. It's been awhile since a movie was hyped so efficiently and delivered on its promise of theatrical fun. Reeves has since gone on to more personal genre filmmaking with Let Me In, a worthy adaptation of Let the Right One In that stands on its own outside of the Swedish film adaptation. Now the director is lined up for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, yet another popular franchise reboot continuance in the works. Reeves knows action, drama and is passionate about his characters. That's a much needed asset when it comes to a fanbase this ravenous.
Just one more director who has been given a boost thanks to the arm of J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot arm. Bird was already a big name in animation thanks to The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, but moving into live-action filmmaking is another story (as his Pixar colleague Andrew Stanton learned the hard way with John Carter). Thankfully, Bird made a great sequel in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and still has a lot of great stuff to deliver to the big screen. The Incredibles is a fine example of family adventure and excitement, and that's something the original Star Wars trilogy delivered with sacrificing quality. Plus, Brad Bird is supposed to direct 1952 for Disney and has a great relationship with them already thanks to Pixar. It's almost too perfect.
This is the oldest filmmaker I've chosen to include on the list, and it's mostly because of Darabont's working relationship with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Darabont worked on "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" back in the 90s, but he also wrote the original script for Indiana Jones 4. No we're not talking about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Gods. If you Google that title, you can find Darabont's script and see how much better it would have been than what fans ultimately saw, and it's proof enough that he has what it takes to capture the magic of Star Wars too. As a director he's delivered The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist, one of the most underrated horror moves of the past decade. It's a small filmography, but he's also got "The Walking Dead" under his belt as well.
So there you have it. Those are my picks. Who do you think should direct Star Wars: Episode 7?