There are many, many unknowns regarding the new Star Wars films. One thing we do know is that George Lucas will not be directing, something that hasn't happened since The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Since we're all fans of movies and of Star Wars here at Big Shiny Robot!, we thought we'd put together a list of 5 directors that would be perfect for the job.
So, in no particular order:
1. Brad Bird - Brad Bird might be one of the most gifted visual storytellers of the last generation. Cutting his teeth on The Simpsons, Bird had one of the most significant feature film debuts with The Iron Giant, a classic animated film that ranks better than most of Disney’s entire animated repertoire. Then, he stepped in at Pixar and delivered The Incredibles, a smart and stylish take on superheroes, Ratatouille, which he directed from someone elses story and made uniquely his own and caused tears for something as innocuous as a food critic tasting a dish. He’s proven himself in the live action world as well with someone elses franchise, making what might have been the best of the Mission: Impossible movies. He has experience in animation (essential for any Star Wars film), live action (and we do mean action), and the heartfelt under currents required to tell an engaging story.
2. Alfonso Cuaron - Cuaron directed what many believe to be the perfect Harry Potter film. It was a dark, atmospheric film whose structure was a well-oiled machine. He took child actors capable of only the most wooden acting and brought them to life and set them down the path that would carry them through the rest of the Harry Potter films. As a visual stylist, his work on films like Children of Men and Great Expectations proves that he can shoot drama and action with equal aplomb. But the relationships between his characters are just as important, take Y tu Mama Tambien as an example. Cuaron could bring a unique vision and style to the Star Wars universe and it would be well crafted and the actors would have an excellent resource to rely on.
3. Edgar Wright - Edgar Wright is a director who, try as he might, just can’t get the notice he deserves for the movies he is making. He’s crafted some of the finest films of his generation, well executed and planned, and inherently re-watchable. From his collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, all the way to his work on Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, he is a deft hand at taking the given genre and using all of its conventions to defy expectations. And he’s already in the Marvel stable, working diligently on Ant-Man. Which, to be honest, is probably the only reason he’s completely out of the running for Episode VII. But there are still two more films. It would be an out of the box choice, for sure, and get Edgar Wright working on something perhaps right out of his comfort zone.
4. Steven Spielberg - Thanks to his impressive list of movies still deemed as classics and his long relationship with George Lucas, Spielberg seems an obvious choice to turn to. Many might balk at their last collaboration, but Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was pitch perfect for the sort of movie it was emulating, full of tried and true moments of adventure that could have only happened in an Indiana Jones film. The imagined thought of Spielberg doing full blown Space Opera in the Star Wars universe has all of us very excited.
5. Joss Whedon - Again, with Joss being busy elsewhere for Disney, working on Avengers 2 set to release the same year as Episode VII, it’s hard to see how he could do this film, but he could certainly be eyed for Episodes VIII and IX. For many, the problem with the Star Wars prequels was the lack of a smart mouthed Han Solo character, and what better director could there be to bring that verbal sparring back to the saga? With Whedon’s ability to give us the heartfelt deaths of characters, he’d be perfect for the middle chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy. And The Avengers proved he knows how to deal with a massive cast and keep a balanced film in the context of a massive action adventure/science fiction epic. That and everyone feels the same way about him as they did about George Lucas in 1980.
But there's another option.... NONE OF THE ABOVE:
There are just as many compelling reasons why we should be looking to “none of the above.” Most of these directors are too busy or too expensive. Some of the best Science-fiction franchises have a long history of bringing in capable directors with something to prove (case in point - Irvin Kershner for Empire, the entire Alien franchise is basically new directors. And we’ve seen with The Clone Wars show that new blood is good for Star Wars. In that spirit, we’ve put together this list of directors that might not be thought of as highly as the above directors, but we think they are no less capable.
So, here are five directors no one else will suggest but we think could be perfect:
1. Rian Johnson - The director of Looper and Brick should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind for a new Star Wars film. Given the creative consultation of George Lucas and a strong guiding hand, Johnson could create a wonderfully complex Star Wars film, dark, heady, and moody, but with a strong grounding of fine cinematic structure and excellent acting. And it would almost certainly bring us Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the Star Wars universe.
2. Neil Blomkamp - Did someone say District 9? And Elysium has many of us all sorts of excited. He’s obviously good with sci-fi and action, tells a hell of a story, and can do things on a low budget that look like they’re much more expensive. He also seems incredibly adept at doing what science fiction does best: tell us stories about current social problems without beating us over the head with meaning. While we never want Star Wars to lose that sense of the universal heroic journey, adding in some social commentary beyond the mention of a cantina patron selling “death sticks” could be interesting.
3. Dave Filoni - Though he’s never proven himself with a live action feature, as the supervising director of The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni has shepherded in a new era of Star Wars that even the most ardent of prequel haters love. He’s been apprenticing under Lucas for the duration of the series and at Celebration VI, Lucas made mention of the fact that he was training the new generation. We might see it with Filoni. Under his guidance, The Clone Wars has proven he has the chops to take the more serious side of Star Wars with things like The Umbaran Arc, the lighter side with episodes like Bombad Jedi and anything starring the Droids, and the mythological side, with the Mortis trilogy. I don’t think it would be any trick for him to transition to live action... And if he’s not in the running for the movie, he should be in the running for the live action TV Show.
4. Duncan Jones - Moon might be one of the great underrated science fiction films of the last ten years. It was small and visually stylish, just like Lucas’ fantastic THX-1138. His handling of Sam Rockwell proves he’s got what it takes to pull a performance and that movie is just dripping with style. It also proved he can work with special effects, with all of the Rockwell clones in single shots. His next project, an untitled bio-pic of Ian Fleming sounds as though it could be fantastic (especially reading stuff like this) , but wouldn’t you rather see him doing a Star Wars film with the ingenuity he brought to Moon?
5. Joe Cornish - “Attack the Block” might be much darker than any theatrical Star Wars release, but captures the spirit perfectly. Kids are present but are never precious, great action, cast of unknowns (mostly), and his CG team was brilliant and understated. Even on its low budget, this film was hailed as a kick in the pants to its genre.
Tell us what you think. Are our picks way off base? Did we miss someone you'd really want to see on there? Does Swank-mo-tron need to write an entire post about why Christopher Nolan would be the worst choice ever?