Just before May 4th celebrations could begin, Chronicle and Fantastic Four director Josh Trank left the Star Wars Anthology film he was supposed to helm. He issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly citing his decision to leave was a personal one, but rumors have been circling all weekend that Trank proved difficult to work with and was fired from the job. Whatever the case may be, there’s an opening for a new Star Wars Anthology director and a 2018 release date already set. There’s been no word if Disney will keep the script Trank was working on or if they’ll go in an entirely new direction. With no cast or story announcements made, it’s a safe bet that whoever replaces Trank will have a fair amount of creative freedom. So here are five directors who could expand the Star Wars mythos:
Joe Johnston is the obvious, safe choice. His career actually began as a concept artist and effects technician on the first Star Wars. He later won the Oscar for his visual effects work on Raiders of the Lost Arc. As a director, a number of his films are clearly inspired by Lucas and Spielberg, and he can easily capture the Star Wars aesthetic. Plus, as the author of several Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, he’s clearly knowledgeable about the franchise. Johnston hasn’t directed a major film since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and he doesn’t seem to have anything big in the works. As the designer of Boba Fett, Johnston has talked about his desire to make a film with the character since 2011. He’s obviously a perfect fit for an Anthology film, and years of experience would likely ensure a pretty smooth production which Disney has got to be weighing heavily at this point.
Can you even imagine the sheer brilliance of lightsaber battles conceived from the mind of The Raid and Raid 2 director, Gareth Evans? Clearly this would be a more action-heavy installment of the Star Wars Anthology, but the kind of close-up, personal stakes action that doesn’t necessarily need big-budget space travel and creature effects. Hell, the lightsaber fight could just be saved for the end, and the movie could be a Die Hard take on Star Wars as it follows a young Jedi without his lightsaber who must rely on only the force. Evans has said before that he’d be open to directing a genre film as long as the violence could be realistically depicted. There’s no way we’d ever get an R-rated Star Wars movie (and we shouldn’t) so maybe Evans could be made to bend a little. The only drawback to his involvement would be the increasing confusion between him and upcoming Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One director, Gareth Edwards.
Stage and film director Julie Taymor needs a space where she can just unleash the full potential of her imagination, and the Star Wars universe is just the place for her to do it. She’s already experienced in adapting Shakespeare for the screen multiple times over, which gives her a leg up on all the familial dynamics, tragedy, and comedy of Star Wars. If Disney allowed Taymor to direct a film that’s strange, dreamy, and set in the Knights of the Old Republic Era, we could potentially witness the most visually spectacular film in Star Wars universe. Just imagine the costumes she’d create.
Ryan Coogler impressed audiences with the emotional depth and multi-faceted characterizations in his first film, Fruitvale Station, in 2013. And if word from this year’s Cinemacon holds any value, his upcoming Rocky spin-off Creed is set to be equally impressive. Coogler seems like the perfect fit for a high stakes emotional drama set in the Star Wars universe. While he’s still a new director, Disney’s original hiring of Josh Trank suggests that they’re looking for some young guns to add to their stable. And if Coogler brings his friend Michael B. Jordan along to star in the film? Even better.
Alex Garland has been rather quietly establishing himself as a major presence in the geek world for over a decade. His screenwriting credits for 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, and Dredd have all proven his masterful handling of science-fiction concepts alongside deft characterization. His directorial debut, Ex Machina, is one of the best films of the year and evidence that he’s just as skillful at directing as he is writing. There’s nothing particularly flashy about his work. Instead, Garland relies more on good storytelling and intelligent narrative structures. Garland is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant minds working in science-fiction today, so who wouldn’t want to see him bring that genius with him to the space-fantasy worlds of Star Wars?
May the force be with Disney as they search for a new director.