Ever since George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the Star Wars property to the Walt Disney Company, there has been a barrage of speculation over who will direct the films in a newly announced Star Wars trilogy.
Recent reports have it that J.J. Abrams and Guillermo Del Toro allegedly turned down offers to meet with Disney to discuss directing the new films. There have been other reports of directors who either are or aren’t interested in helming a new Star Wars film. Meanwhile, actor Jason Flemyng blurted recently that his friend and noted genre director Matthew Vaughn (the director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) was picked to direct Star Wars: Episode VII.
Whether or not that is true, there are other notable directors that are well suited for the gig. Aside from current rumored frontrunners like Jon Favreau, Joe Johnston and Brad Bird, it’s time to point out some candidates that haven’t been mentioned but are worthwhile contenders.
Alonso Cuarón would be a solid choice. His resume include three genre films (Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Children Of Men and the forthcoming Gravity) and the first two show a distinct, engrossing and moody style that would fit in nicely with an Empire Strikes Back-style Star Wars film. Cuarón should definitely be considered for a darker themed film.
Kenneth Branagh, who directed Thor, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and several Shakespearean dramas, is a worthy candidate. His films have gravitas but more importantly are generally entertaining. This was best shown with Thor and Branagh has the skills to do a big-budget sci-fi spectacular with heart and emotion.
Sam Raimi could shoot up to the top of the list if his Disney film Oz, The Great And Powerful becomes a hit. He also has a terrific lineup of popular genre films under his belt like the Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies. Most likely a Star Wars film directed by Raimi would be very humorous, full of frantic energy and could be just the thing to help boost the Star Wars franchise.
Neil Blomkamp should be tossed into the list because ever since his film District 9 was released and received so much acclaim, geeks all over the Internet keep touting him for every potential genre film. So why not here? Besides his background as a 3D animator and his talent as a director should put him on the short list. BTW that prawn mechanical battle suit in District 9 looks like it would blend in well in a Star Wars film.
Robert Zemeckis should be considered for a Star Wars: Episode VII. He’s the director of many popular genre works like the Back To The Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and his mo-cap animated films. Some of those films were with Disney. Despite the fact that Disney cancelled his remake of Yellow Submarine, and he was criticized for doing too many mo-cap films, they should at least invite him over to a meeting because he can deliver entertaining, big-budget sci-fi films. Steven Spielberg can vouch for him on that aspect.
Danny Boyle has shown a versatility to direct any type of film. But his work on the classics 28 Days Later and Sunshine is a reason why he would make a great director for Star Wars: Episode VII or beyond. Boyle has a distinct vision and is very innovative. His kinetically visual style would not only compliment a Star Wars film but make it very memorable. One drawback is that Boyle stated that after the grilling work on Sunshine he isn’t interested in doing anymore sci-fi films.
Steven Spielberg has to be a top candidate, being that he doesn’t have anything on the immediate production plate..if Disney can afford him. Spielberg has suspended work on his upcoming Robopocalypse and Christopher Nolan has since announced that he will helm another potential Spielberg film Interstellar. Spielberg was nearly picked for Return Of The Jedi (how different would that film have turned out!) and has a long friendship with George Lucas. Star Wars would be left in competent hands. Ditto with Peter Jackson. The director of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, has created rich, lush worlds full of memorable creatures and landscapes, plus he has an eye for an epic. Look at those sweeping shots in his spectaculars. But Jackson is still busy with Middle Earth.
Andrew Stanton, believe it or not, is probably one of the best choices. Yes, some may rag about John Carter, his live-action debut, but that film was a lot of fun. In many ways, it was a Star Wars film in all but name and is a terrific way to see how Stanton would handle the Star Wars universe. John Carter had a swashbuckling hero, a beautiful heroine, aliens, and a unique world with otherworldly tech. Perfect for Star Wars: Episode VII. If that doesn’t convince executives then they should look at other films that he directed, the Pixar animated films Finding Nemo and WALL-E. His experience in WALL-E would go perfectly with Star Wars in that he knows how to imbue emotional depth into robotic characters. R2-D2 and C-3P0 couldn’t be directed by a better hand than Andrew Stanton.
With that, here is a quick rundown of directors who should be told “don’t call us, we’ll call you” and not even be considered.
Tim Burton may be a popular director but his visual look would be off-kilter with Star Wars. Burton’s films often have blurred lines when it comes to who the audience should identify with. Often the villains outshine the heroes. Ron Howard is someone who, while being a competent director, may not be the most dynamic choice for Star Wars. Still one advantage he has is his relationship with Lucas. As to how good he would be just look at Howard and Lucas’ last collaboration Willow. The less said about Brett Ratner the better. He nearly killed off the X-Men franchise with his limp and by-the-numbers effort X-Men: The Last Stand. Then there is Zack Snyder, fandom thought they dodged a bullet when Snyder stated previously that he wasn’t interested in directing a new Star Wars. However, that all changed when a rumor (since then denied by Snyder) came out that he is developing a Star Wars spin-off film based on The Magnificent Seven. Ugh. It’s bad enough he’s made many beautifully empty films that lack emotional resonance but the idea of him setting his sights on the Star Wars universe is too distressing. After the drubbing the franchise has taken with the prequels, the last thing Star Wars need is another Episode I-type of failure. Disney should tread lightly when considering Snyder.
Disney must have a stacked list of potential directors. They need to take their time and decide which director will help propel the franchise for new generations of fans. Remember, while only one choice can be made for Star Wars: Episode VII, there are still two more films to go, plus there are related Star Wars films on the horizon and opportunities for many directors.