star wars episode 9 director

Yesterday, Star Wars: Episode 9 lost its director. Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm parted ways, the latest in a series of behind-the-scenes upheavals surrounding the massively popular franchise. It’s not entirely clear what’s going on, but between this and the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Han Solo spin-off movie, it seems that producer Kathleen Kennedy has a very different vision for Star Wars than her collaborators.

But while we puzzle over what the heck is going on with Star Wars, we did what everyone does on the internet in a moment of pop culture crisis: we made a list. Here are 17 directors who we think could end up making Star Wars: Episode 9…and a few that should make it.

The Force Awakens - J.J. Abrams

JJ Abrams

Chances of Getting the Job: Likely

JJ Abrams did a fantastic job with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but even he had some reported tension with producer Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams is proud of the film and had fun with the experience, but I’ve heard he’s sworn off doing another one or getting stuck in another franchise. But Abrams initially swore off doing Episode 7, so you never know!. He’s a proven quantity. Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, and Disney all know what they would be getting into with Abrams.

That said, the filmmaker is notorious for changing his mind well into filming and into post production. It’s these “better ideas” that pop up that might make Abrams films better or worse than initially planned, depending on who you ask. There is no mistaking his touch. I’d be happy to see Abrams finish off the trilogy that he kickstarted and he’s one of the more likely candidates on the list. (Peter Sciretta)

Brad Bird Tomorrowland interview

Brad Bird

Chances of Getting the Job: Pipe Dream

Right now Brad Bird is busy preparing The Incredibles 2 for release in June of 2018, so it’s unlikely that he would be available to jump on Star Wars: Episode 9 towards the end of this year or even early next year. After all, he was approached to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he didn’t want to abandon Tomorrowland, which, funnily enough, led to Colin Trevorrow directing Jurassic World.

There’s a chance that Brad Bird could attempt to balance both Star Wars and The Incredibles 2, but I don’t think he wants to do a disservice to either movie by being spread too thin. It’s just a shame that he’s not more readily available, because we’re still desperate for a Star Wars movie from the director of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles and The Iron Giant. Bird has a style that is perfect for Star Wars – his adventure a little bit of whimsy and levity – and I hope we get to see him come to a galaxy far, far away eventually. (Ethan Anderton)

Ryan Coogler

Ryan Coogler

Chances of Getting the Job: Possible

Though Ryan Coogler has only three films under his belt, his rapid ascension from buzz-worthy indie director to helmer of a superhero blockbuster parallels many of the directors who have been plucked out of obscurity to direct a Star Wars film.

But Coogler has proven himself to be not just skilled at maneuvering around and with nostalgia, but at using that nostalgia as a driver of socially conscious narratives. I’m talking about Creed of course, which was Coogler’s first test in mainstream cinema after his acclaimed debut feature, Fruitvale Station. Like Star Wars: Episode 9Creed was a legacy movie, and just the latest in a series of sequels that were more or less well received. It had a lot to prove — that Rocky’s story could be brought in to the modern day without Rocky at the center. And it did that, 10 times over. Creed used nostalgia as a pretext for the Adonis Johnson’s story and created a narrative that echoed the beats of the original Rocky without feeling like a cheap ploy. Star Wars could use someone who can toe that line.

Coogler is currently under Disney’s employ with Black Panther, and could easily be transferred over to the Lucasfilm division to take over Episode IX — provided Black Panther lives up to the hype. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

why Ava DuVernay turned down Black Panther

Ava DuVernay

Chances of Getting the Job: Likely

After receiving heaps of awards and nominations for Selma, Ava Duvernay all but disappeared from the limelight, picking and choosing her projects carefully — with the aim of not just furthering her own career, but the careers of other women and women of color. It’s resulted in acclaimed television shows like Queen Sugar and documentaries like 13th, all of which increased her standing in an industry that gives female directors few options after their first big successes.

Though Duvernay turned down the chance to direct Black Panther, the director is not opposed to taking on big budget blockbusters, recently helming A Wrinkle in Time under — you guessed it — Disney. Though she has proven to be more interested in propping up other minority directors, Duvernay could very well take the chance at helming one of the most influential blockbusters in the world with a female lead. Rey has headlined the new Star Wars series since Force Awakens, but has yet to have a female director or screenwriter craft her story. DuVernay would be a great start. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

paul bettany han solo

Ron Howard

Chances of Getting the Job: Likely

While Lucasfilm initially expressed an interest in hiring unique and left-field directors to helm their Star Wars movies, the recent headlines suggest that this isn’t working out. The hiring of Ron Howard to take over the troubled Han Solo movie suggests the path moving forward: steady, tried-and-true filmmakers with proven track records and a history of getting along well with producers and studios. And there are few filmmakers as well-liked and as malleable as Howard, an industry veteran known for getting things done on time and on budget.

Is Howard the most inspired or exciting choice to take on Star Wars: Episode 9? Nah. But he’s the kind of guy you call in to get the job done efficiently and effectively with as little drama as possible. And while he has his fair share of duds, he’s a consistent and reliable filmmaker with a habit of pleasing audiences and delivering exactly what the bosses want. If he’s still up for more Star Wars, he may be exactly what Lucasfilm is looking for. (Jacob Hall)

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