'Star Wars' Directors: Who Are These Guys Anyway? Check Out Disney and Lucasfilm's New Directorial Faces Of The Franchise

By Steve Buja , Updated Jun 24, 2014 09:04 AM EDT
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Disney is no stranger to assembling a universe with a lot of different voices. When they first acquired Marvel back in mid-2000s, we all thought it was going to be the death of the studio before it even began. Yet, time after time, Disney, along with Marvel Studio heads, have been impressing with their choice of behind the scenes talents, netting established directors like Kenneth Branagh (Thor) and Shane Black (Iron Man 3), while discovering untapped potential in the likes of Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and the Russo brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). They hope to continue the tradition alongside Lucasfilm with the upcoming initial trilogy, plus a whole host of spin offs centered around a specific character.

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The Mouse House is skewing younger, grabbing up and coming or just establishing themselves talent to fill out their roster. There are no spring chickens; the youngest just turned 30, but I guess we can also put to rest the hope of ever seeing a Spielberg directed Star Wars film. So, besides Jar Jar Abrams, who have they gotten and what makes them the right choice for the job?

1. Gareth Edwards - 39, director. Of all the names attached, Edwards is the only one not named Abrams with a huge, big budget blockbuster under his belt. He recently helmed the Godzilla remake, so he is absolutely no stranger to bombast and possesses a brilliant eye for visual splendor, of which Star Wars should be filled to bursting with. His feature debut, 2011's indie Monsters, saw him wearing many hats; he wrote, directed, produced and did the visual effects for it all on his own. It's a very Star Wars-esque tale, and mirrors Lucas' own ascent into blockbuster legend. He's a visualist first and foremost, as I found both Monsters and Godzilla lacking in a human element, but hopefully his writer Gary Whitta (see below) will be able to carve something out of the as yet unnamed Star Wars spinoff set to be released December 16, 2016. No word yet on which character he will be directing. A young Han Solo perhaps?

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2. Gary Whitta - 41, screenwriter. Best known as the editor in chief of PC Magazine, Whitta has dabbled in a little bit of everything. At 41, he already has an impressive resume, including the Hughes' brothers' The Book of Eli with Denzel and After Earth alongside M. Night Shyamalan. If that last one is not the greatest of films, Whitta at least knows how to create an alien world and would feel comfortable in the tropes of sci-fi. He is also the overseeing editor for Telltale Games' The Walking Dead series, which is among the best storytelling that series has ever had. He's a seasoned pro with serious accomplishments under his belt and I am guessing would be quite comfortable working in the Disney system.

3. Josh Trank - 30, director. The youngest of the directors by a good mile, Trank is best known as the director of found footage superhero film Chronicle, which is just a great dry run for landing a Star Wars gig. Chronicle is, in my opinion, a 90 minute version of the entire prequel trilogy. Trank has a fantastic eye for the camera and the flying and end fight scenes would mesh well with a Jedi centered short film, perhaps around Yoda or Obi-wan. Trank will actually be dipping back into the superhero world with the reboot of The Fantastic Four, due out next year. Considering Chronicle grossed 10 times its $12 million budget, Disney will definitely be looking to Trank as a person who can deliver a big hit for as little as possible, an unnerving state of affairs for all of these people, who are doubtless just so excited to be working on a Star Wars movie.

4. Rian Johnson - 40, director. Johnson is an internet darling, having directed three really good to great films. He first made his debut in the 2005 Joseph Gordon Levitt high school neo-noir Brick, which is just some kind of wonderful. It still holds up to this day. His next was The Brother's Bloom with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody that had a charm for days but did not set the box office on fire. His best film is 2012's Looper, a sci-fi film, sort of, with Levitt and Bruce Willis and is, on the surface, about time travel. I found it to be a profoundly moving statement on modern day masculinity wrapped around a solid science fiction concept, with some great action to boot. He may be best known, however, for his work on Breaking Bad, where he helmed the intimate character piece Fly and arguably one of the best episodes of the series (and by extension, best episodes of television) Ozymandias. Johnson was recently tapped to write and direct Episode VIII, and pen the treatment for Episode IX. This is the choice that has me most excited, Johnson is very good with actors and as Looper showed, his FX work is top notch and he can approach tropes from new and interesting angles, which is absolutely what we need in the upcoming Star Wars movies.

Good for you, Disney. I originally feared that they'd want someone safe, like a Tim Story-esque journeyman, for the Star Wars movies. I am glad they are attempting to give the universe a little character, a little creativity, something that was often missing from the last trilogy. These aren't the best of the best, these are creative types who haven't set the world on fire and therefore can be controlled by Disney to varying degrees. These movies are going to be a battle to get made, and everyone is going to want in on the scripting process and this and that executive thinks that maybe if we did this, it would make for a better movie.

I'd love to see a Steve McQueen or Kathryn Bigelow get tapped for one of these. It's a very white male roster they've assembled, and lord knows Episode VII has had its share of 'where is literally everyone else at?'

In the meantime, Disney is off to a solid start with their picks. We here at GameNGuide will keep updating you with all of your Star Wars news, and rest assured, there will be plenty, in the coming months and years.

So, who would you like to see helm some of the most anticipated films of the last ten years? Tell us in the comments!

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