When the director of the first two Star Trek films went to another Star-oriented franchise, the world waited to hear who would direct the third new Star Trek film. Dozens of names were floated for Star Trek 3 and then Roberto Orci, a co-producer and writer on the first two films in the series, stepped into the seat. This was a controversial decision. Orci had never directed a film; fans were worried. Fast-forward a few months and Orci is out. He’s still involved as a producer, but he won’t be directing. The search is on once again on for another director.

As Paramount and Bad Robot frantically try and find someone to hit a planned Summer 2016 release date, we figured we’d help. We came up with 15 names who should, could, and actually might direct Star Trek 3. That means anyone who has an obvious film in the pike is out. Anyone who had passed is out and huge Hail Marys like Spielberg, Nolan or Scorsese are out. What’s left is a half wish-list, half possible list of 15 names. Read our Star Trek 3 director ideas below.

Update: Just after we ran this, Deadline dropped a list of five people who supposedly represent the major studio picks for director. They are: Rupert Wyatt, Morten Tyldum, Daniel Espinosa, Justin Lin, and Duncan Jones. A couple of those names were already on our list of suggestions, which follows as originally presented.

The below list is alphabetical so no favoritism is given. Also, unless noted, none of these names have actually be reported as being in contention. This is just our personal picks. Lastly, we have to sneak in one extra just because. That extra, 16th name is…

Star Trek Into Darkness - Pine, Quinto, Abrams 1

J.J. Abrams

Resume: Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Why should they direct: Abrams directed the first two films in the series and he would obviously be the top choice, if he was available.
Could they actually direct: Probably not but maybe. Abrams has finished production on The Force Awakens, which means the next year will be spent in an editing bay and approving effects shots. Hypothetically, he could do that from Vancouver where Star Trek 3 is shooting. Abrams’ mentor and idol, Steven Spielberg, is known to make two movies at once, so Abrams could attempt it but I don’t think Disney will allow it. Star Wars is just too important. Moving on to the real 15.


Darren Aronofsky

Resume: The Fountain, Black Swan, Noah
Why should they direct: Aronofsky has a wholly unique and exciting visual style. He loves sci-fi and made his last movie at Paramount. Plus, he’s been trying to direct a franchise film for a while, from Batman to Wolverine. The bigger issue is, would an auteur like him be okay coming in this late in the game? That’s doubtful.
Could they actually direct: The director has yet to decide on his next directorial debut. In fact, it was thought he was going to direct The Good Nurse, but it was made clear he has not made that decision yet. It seems he’s available.

Brad Bird Mission Impossible

Brad Bird

Resume: The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Tomorrowland
Why should they direct: For Bird’s last film, he stepped into an established franchise whose last film was directed by J.J. Abrams. Why not do it again? He obviously has a great relationship with Bad Robot as well as Paramount and just the right amount of geekiness and talent to make this movie very, very special.
Could they actually direct: Bird’s latest, Tomorrowland, opens in May which means it’ll probably be completed in March. That would hypothetically mean he could jump right into Star Trek 3. Or he could complete Tomorrowland as he was starting Trek. It’s a definite longshot though.

Carnahan The Grey

Joe Carnahan

Resume: The A-Team, Smokin Aces, Narc
Why should they direct: Because a Joe Carnahan directed Star Trek movie would be absolutely insane. His kinetic style lends itself very well to the new world of Trek, plus we’ve never seen what he can do with a world like this. There’s pretty much no way it wouldn’t be great.
Could they actually direct: Carnahan has a ton of movie he wants to make, but few that are actually happening anytime soon. It’s why he’s been doing a lot of TV recently. He actually does have a deal right now with Paramount to do a TV show base on Narc so there’s a relationship there, but he might be too vocal and prideful to pick up the project this late in the game.

Ava DuVernay Selma

Ava DuVernay

Resume: Selma, Middle of Nowhere, I Will Follow
Why should they direct: Selma is an outstanding movie that puts social concepts front and center, and does so through characters and their relationships to the world around them. Working with cinematographer Bradford Young (who also shot A Most Violent Year and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) DuVernay tells one part of MLK’s story with an elegant visual approach, achieved on a tight schedule and with a relatively small budget. With a significant amount of money to play with, DuVernay could create a vision of Star Trek that might hold true to the series’ most ambitious ideals.
Could they actually direct: Ambitious ideals are great, but let’s be honest: that’s not what powers most tentpole films. And there’s no indication that DuVernay has any interest in doing a film such as this; talking about Selma, she said that even that film seemed pretty far outside her core interests at first.

Anna Foerster

Anna Foerster

Resume: White House Down, Anonymous (as cinematographer), Godzilla, Independence Day (in VFX); Criminal Minds, Outlander (as director); The Day After Tomorrow, 10000 BC (as second unit director)
Why should they direct: You’d think someone with a resume in VFX and cinematographer for many of Roland Emmerich’s movies would be at the top of studio wish lists for a film like Star Trek 3, assuming that person was actively trying to direct. But gender remains an issue in Hollywood, which may be part of the reason we’re just starting to hear Foerster’s name connected to big features now. She’s got 20 years of experience on exactly this sort of film, and her recent Outlander episodes have been well-received. No matter the project, we’re excited to see what movie she makes.
Could they actually direct: Foerster was just attached to make Source Code 2, and is connected to a film called Secret Hunter. We don’t know what shape either of those projects are really in, so simple logistics could prevent any other feature attachments now.

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