Earlier today, it was reported that Colin Trevorrow would no longer be directing Star Wars: Episode IX.

As is the case with just about any Star Wars development, the announcement has set the internet abuzz. At least for a few news cycles, we can expect plenty to come out in the next few days in terms of speculation and rumors regarding the franchise, the studio, and everyone involved.

We here at AE, however, want to put on our optimistic blinders and keep things hopeful. In spite of his most recent critical and commercial flop The Book of Henry, Trevorrow still has on his resume one of the most successful box office hits of all time in Jurassic World and odds are good that he will keep making a name for himself in blockbuster films.

So, we’re treating this as an opportunity, an opportunity for what might be the most celebrated film franchise ever to extend its magical world-building by incorporating a new vision and an opportunity for us to look at ahead at who we think is best equipped to take over the directing duties. Here are our choices and yours, via Twitter.


Wonder Woman

Warner Bros. Pictures

Patty Jenkins

Have you considered that maybe Patty Jenkins hasn’t finalized her Wonder Woman 2 contract because she is busy negotiating her Star Wars: Episode IX agreement? Well, I have. Her 2017 summer hit Wonder Woman earned over $800 million worldwide and $409.5 million in the US, landing it amongst the top five highest-grossing superhero films of all time. Perhaps more notably, Wonder Woman was lauded for its depiction of women as both strong and feminine. In a recent response to criticism from James Cameron, Jenkins stated, “I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman.”

Who better to helm a film depicting Rey’s rise to power? Who better to trust with Star Wars’ newest depiction of a female Jedi taking on the force of the Empire? Jenkins has unequivocally proven herself worthy of both tasks. – Brandi Blahnik


Warner Bros.

Denis Villenueve

I fully expect Episode IX to be the darkest entry in the new Star Wars franchise, and tie up a lot of emotional ends, while inevitably paving the way for a second sequel trilogy. Denis Villeneuve has proven to be an uncompromising filmmaker when it comes to emotional sincerity, and balancing tone. If Blade Runner 2049 can stand as evidence, he’s more than proven his visual acumen for big-budget, special effects driven blockbusters. While Dune is supposedly next on his plate, it’s only in the early development phase and doesn’t have a release date yet. Villeneuve is timely when it comes to deadlines, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he manages to jump onboard Episode IX in time for its 2019 release date and still have the energy to follow that up with Dune. Plus, it would be a fascinating moment in film history if the director influenced by Lynch, and set to adapt a novel that Lynch adapted, took on the final installment of Star Wars, just as Lynch was offered a chance to do before choosing to do Dune instead. Just imagine all the wonderful worlds Villeneuve would create if he had a galaxy at his disposal, how far he could push this universe out of his comfort zone, and what images we could bask over if he brought Roger Deakins along with him. – Richard Newby


Beasts of No Nation

Netflix

Cary Fukanaga

One of the few problems that Disney has with the Star Wars franchise is a disturbing narrative about directors. Given the recent hirings and firings of these directors, the idea has been floated that it doesn’t matter who directs these films, with the intense oversight from the producers. To destroy that narrative, the perfect choice to direct Episode IX is Cary Fukunaga. His most recent film, Beasts of No Nation, was a critical darling, which gives him and the franchise carte blanche to create a new and exciting adventure, something the Star Wars universe has lacked lately. Plus, he has already left one huge film, It, due to his desire to build an unconventional story. What better way to prove that Disney is willing to let an artist create freely! Fukunaga has shown an ability to create engaging worlds, in film and television, regardless of setting, from period dramas to near modern Louisiana. Let’s join him in building an adventure in a galaxy, far, far away! – David Hart

 


Looper

TriStar Pictures

Rian Johnson

By all accounts as of this posting, Rian Johnson is going to deliver a weird and wild Star Wars outing the likes of which we’ve never seen. The teaser trailer reveals an aged Luke Skywalker to us who declares it’s time for the Jedi, one of our few constants in this universe, to end? Bold storytelling that implies a complete restructuring of the series at its core. We want each one to feel distinct as our new protagonists venture through a galaxy far, far away. Johnson has already hopped genres between his individual features so it makes sense for him to do it again if he were to tackling a follow up/conclusion to his The Last Jedi. Johnson is also on record for loving his time at LucasFilm, which definitely sounds different from other recent hires by the studio. Not to mention LucasFilm is intent on reclaiming that May 2019 release date – resulting in several months shorter production than both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. There’s already a good working relationship and the film is coming together nicely. If they need someone they can put complete faith in along with a critical darling, as long as Johnson could make the turnaround, I could hardly think of a better choice. – Diego Crespo


Warner Bros.

Alfonso Cuarón

I’ve recently come forward and confessed my status as a late participant in Star Wars fan culture; I’ve admitted that I had never seen any of the original films until I after I started this website a few years ago and caved to the pressure of my peers. But late love is still love, even if this confession marks me as the least qualified testimony on the page. So I’ll be up front: my selection isn’t really for the benefit of Star Wars and its fans. It’s a presumed benefit for film fans everywhere. Here’s what everyone knows about Star Wars: It’s a space opera and it’s a watermark achievement in boundless cinematic imagination and world-building. Here’s what we know about Alfonso Cuarón, just based on his last two movies, Children of Men and Gravity: He’s unparalleled in terms of world-building and he’s the best at using space as a narrative device. He’s also not working frequently enough. Normally, I’d be a little hesitant to call for my favorite visionary to join a franchise film, but at this point, I’d give anything to see him in a director’s chair again. – David Shreve

 


Doctor Who

BBC

Rachel Talalay

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who and you’ve been watching it for the past few years, you’ll have noticed that the final episodes of each season have been incredible. The key factor to this is Rachel Talalay who has, since season 8, directed the finales of each of Peter Capaldi’s seasons. The six episodes have contained classics and, in the case of Heaven Sent, possibly the best ever episode of Doctor Who.

Star Wars, like Doctor Who, is at its best when it can give you epic scenes anchored by characters you love and care about. Talalay has proven time and again that she has the chops to pull this off and if she can do it on a TV budget, imagine what she would do with a blockbuster. – Sean Fallon

 


Gore Verbinski

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

If Star Wars Episode IX is mirroring Return of the Jedi, like how The Force Awakens mirrored A New Hope and how The Last Jedi seems to be mirroring Empire Strikes Back, then Episode IX should be that fulfilling end chapter to a trilogy’s worth of ideas and characters. I’m not usually one to assign expectations of what a sequel should be, but stick with my train of thought here. No one is better suited than Director Gore Verbinski to deliver a gloriously summer blockbuster that is satisfying in terms of character and theme. Verbinski knows how to shape a climactic battle, and an entire third movie for that matter, around character and theme. The strange ambition of Star Wars in the late 70s will also certainly manifest itself in his work. Maz Kanata’s castle, the most intriguing part of The Force Awakens, and Canto Bight, the most intriguing part of The Last Jedi’s marketing, are the most exotic concepts introduced in the new trilogy, and it’s no coincidence that they are the closest the trilogy has come to Verbinski imagination. For audience to cry in amazement and fulfillment, let’s sign Gore Verbinski, Disney. – Anton Reyes


Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay has pioneered her way into a series of firsts: First black female director to earn a Best Picture nomination (for Selma), first black woman to be nominated for Best Director in a central category (for 13th), and now the first black female director to direct a live-action film with a budget reportedly exceeding $100 million (A Wrinkle in Time). Her storytelling, casting, and script (re-)writing make her a much-discussed, much needed voice in film. Though I suspect seeing DuVernay direct Black Panther would have further solidified my hunch that Star Wars needs her in the director’s chair, knowing that she’s willing to walk away from a lucrative superhero film (if she’s unable to direct it how she sees fit) makes me all the more eager to see her vision for the next film in the franchise. While we’re still six months from the release of Disney’s sci-fi, mega budget, live-action adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay’s work in film and television has shown her range and experience befitting of the exceptional task that is directing a Star Wars film. – Grace Porter


Your Choices

…and finally: