As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Disney recently bought LucasFilm, and are currently planning on releasing the next trilogy of Star Wars films, starting in 2015 (which is looking like a pretty damn good year for movies so far, what with Avengers 2 and the Justice League movie). Currently nothing has been set in stone other than a frankly ridiculous amount of rumours over cast and crew, so I’m going to throw my hat into the already over-hatted ring as to whom I believe would make a decent director for what proves to be one of the most eagerly, yet cautiously, anticipated films of the next few years. As I like to do sometimes, I’ve made two lists, one of a safe pair of hands to kick off the trilogy, and another list of film-makers who could add an interesting spin on the series that I’d quite like to see.
5a. Martin Campbell
Campbell was my initial first choice, due to his success at rebooting a franchise not once, but twice in the forms of Goldeneye and Casino Royale. He has a good eye for taking an existing saga, working out what’s good, cutting what’s not, and most of all making it fit to the current times. However, I took a glance at his C.V. and discovered he directed 2011’s partially space-set travesty The Green Lantern, whose over-use of CGI and general blandness brought back memories of the prequel trilogy. With this in mind, I’ve kept Campbell on the list as a possibility, as there’s every chance he’s learned from his mistakes and could make a decent stab at this film.
5b. Coen Brothers
Because they should direct everything, that’s why. A Coen brothers’ Star Wars film would definitely be an interesting watch, but it’s a certainty that it will never happen, mainly because science fiction seems to be a genre they refuse to go near, with the closest they’ve been so far being the climax of The Hudsucker Proxy. Dialogue has never been the strongest aspect of any Star Wars film, but a script from the Coens would soon sort that out, and just think of the casting – John Goodman as a Hutt, George Clooney as a Han Solo-esque rogue, Jeff Bridges as the most laid back Jedi in history, and Steve Buscemi and John Turtorro as comic relief aliens. Oh, and of course Frances McDormand as Luke Skywalker’s wife.4a. Gareth Edwards
Edwards’ 2010 hit Monsters proved just how great a film can be when made for almost no budget, and whilst it’s doubtless that Disney will be fuelling the new films with considerably more than the reported $800,000 used to make Edwards’ post-alien invasion road movie, just think how much he could do with more money. The main letdown of the prequels was a greater focus on CGI over engaging story, which is the exact opposite of Edwards’ movie, in which the special effects were relegated to the background in favour of the compelling character study of the two leads. This kind of attention to story is exactly what Star Wars needs, although Edwards may be too untested in big budget fare to be chosen just yet. After his imminent Godzilla remake, due in 2014, he may be more noteworthy, so consider him my early choice for Episode IIX or IX.
4b. Guillermo del Toro
I recommend del Toro for the role based on one scene, the troll market sequence in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. The level of detail in this scene, and del Toro’s affinity for using practical puppetry and effects in conjunction with photorealistic CGI makes him a perfect candidate, and I can’t watch that scene without thinking of the Mos Eisley cantina. Although he has a reputation for making somewhat ‘dark’ films, the Hellboy movies (which are underrated in my opinion) prove he can go mainstream too. And just think of the cornucopia of wonderful beasties he could dream up to appear in the story.
3a. Matthew Vaughn
He’s already widely rumoured as Disney’s first choice for the role, and Vaughn’s pulling out of directing X-Men First Class 2: Days of Future Past has done nothing but fuel the rumour mill. I’ve got no problems with Vaughn being cast, although he does sound like an odd choice to me, seeing as his films are generally good but not necessarily great. Stardust, X-Men: First Class and Layer Cake are good, Kick-Ass is amazing, but in a hyper-violent, insanely-sweary way that I’m guessing Disney wouldn’t want for Star Wars. That said, I’m very interested to see where he can fit Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher, who seem to be in any film he’s associated with, and of course Mark Strong is the obvious choice for either the next Sith lord, or the obligatory traitor within the good guys.
3b. Christopher Nolan
Though Nolan can obviously handle extreme spectacle and intricately plotted films, like the Coens he isn’t known to delve completely into fantasy, though it has popped up here and there in some of his work. I think Nolan could do great things with a Star Wars film; the combat scenes would be amazing, and of course the whole thing would be visually stunning, but there’s pretty much no chance of him doing it, unless he wanted a real challenge for himself. Michael Caine in an Obi-Wan Kenobi-style role, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his young padawan and Cillian Murphy as some kind of villain sounds bloody amazing in my mind though.
2a. James Cameron
Cameron can certainly handle the scope of a Star Wars film – just look at Avatar
– and he can use CGI to create an environment that feels more real than my everyday life, but where he’d fall done is on the story. Outside of films involving robot assassins from the future, his films tend to heavily feature either gaping plot holes or silly story elements, and there’s no room for any kind of error for the fanatics to pounce on. Cameron has made some bloody good films though, and I’d feel comfortable with Star Wars
in his hands. Also, should Carrie Fisher drop out, Cameron regular Sigourney Weaver could make a decent replacement as Leia, but I get the feeling he’s got his hands full over the next few years on the Avatar
2b. David Fincher
Well, there’d be no problems with it being too kid-friendly, as per the prequels. Fincher would give the film a decidedly adult feel, possibly chucking in some inventive deaths and a rape sequence or two for good measure. His films with a wider appeal tend to be lesser works – Benjamin Button, Panic Room – but they’re still great, and show off his love for using CGI sparingly, and only where absolutely needed. And before you say he’s too dark, look at the ending of Empire Strikes Back and tell me just how happy and rainbow-filled that film is.
1a. Sam Mendes
Mendes has never made a bad film, and is adept at every genre he’s tried. Sci-fi would be a new direction for him, but I reckon he’d take it in stride and do a cracking job. Plus, Disney are probably going to want a director without too much of a personal style, someone who’s film won’t reflect their own personality, and will hopefully fit in with the rest of the saga. I don’t mean this to sound insulting, but Mendes’ films are all stand-alone, without many elements stringing them together. This is perfect for such a franchise. Also, Skyfall
was amazing, and Disney would do well to snap up the director whilst he’s riding high.
1b. Quentin Tarantino
Like the Coens, Tarantino would put a big focus on script, and he’d doubtlessly make the coolest Star Wars flick ever. His style is obviously transferable across genres – it went seamlessly into war with Inglourious Basterds
, and looks set to do the same in Django Unchained
, so heading into space should be no problem whatsoever. Of course, he’d need to find some way of bringing Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu back from the dead, or possibly returning as a Kenobi-style spiritual mentor, featuring the eternal line “I’ve had it with these mother-f**king Sith on this mother-f**king death star!”
a. Michael Bay
b. Tim Burton
Nothing against Burton, but he always seems to do make better films when they’re based on original stories, rather than adapting or expanding on someone else’s work. He’s also on a run of not-great films, and his custom brand of quirky oddness has too much of the director’s own stamp on it for it to fit into the Star Wars saga. And there’s just no room for either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter in this world.Honourable Mentions
J. J. Abrams – Could he handle Star Wars and Star Trek simultaneously? I bet he’d give it a good shot.
Joss Whedon – If he wasn’t working on the Avengers sequel, due out in the same month as Star Wars VII, Whedon would be every nerd’s dream choice for this film.
Zack Snyder – He may have a few too many stylistic flourishes for Star Wars, but think of how he reinvented Dawn of the Dead for a new generation. If he did the same with Star Wars, it’d be amazing.
Steven Spielberg – A lot of people seem to be recommending Spielberg for the job, but I just can’t see it myself. I think he’s lost his touch in recent years, and if he were to direct Star Wars, his focus may be too heavily on attracting a younger audience – another problem of the prequels.
Jon Favreau – Disney already has him as an in-house director, and Favreau would be a solid choice for blending action, smarts and humour.
Gore Verbinski – Another Disney regular, Verbinski has good blockbuster chops and would appeal to a wide audience.