That’s no typo, friends: Episode VIII…..as in Episode 8. Let’s start with a few quick words for those readers who have been living on Mars, in a cave, with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears: First– how are you reading this with your eyes closed? Are you a witch??? Second, J.J. Abrams will be directing Star Wars: Episode VII. What we are oh so subtly implying is that everyone is (in some cases painfully) aware of this fact — Martian Cave Witches notwithstanding (wouldn’t that be an awesome band name?). So, we here at NerdBastards have decided to get ahead of the curve: Episode VII and the relative merits of its director are old news! Let’s move on and start talking about who Lucasfilm/Disney is gonna get to helm Episode VIII!
If you’re any kind of Star Wars Nerd, you probably had a slew of your own dream choices to direct Episode VII… and if Abrams didn’t make your list — then once you got done pissing and moaning, you probably simply transferred your personal candidates to Episode VIII (like we’re doing). Ergo, we thought we’d add a quick explanation why some of the first names many Nerds would think of will not be found on today’s list — for instance, Geek deity Joss Whedon. Forgetting that His Whedonness will be occupied with other work for Disney (SHIELD, Avengers 2), the fact is we’re rapidly approaching over-saturation with all things Whedon. Besides, we’d hate to encourage an event that will likely result in fanboy head-explosions and fatal nerdgasms all across the globe. Similar issues of over-exposure and danger to the physical integrity of nerd skulls kept Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Zack Snyder, Peter Jackson, and Sam Raimi off the list as well.
In short — we looked for entries that might make you, the reader, think: “Say! That’s an interesting choice!” (not necessarily GOOD, but interesting) Not entries that’ll leave you thinking: “Well, DUH!”
With this in mind, here are ten filmmakers we think could at least make a better Star Wars film than Attack of the Clones (This is a Nerd Site: Prequel-bashing in a Star Wars-based article is a contractual obligation of every writer here)
Mr. Yates directed (quite successfully) the final four Harry Potter films — adaptations of the longest and most complex books in the series, so we know he can handle a saga. Furthermore, he’s shown remarkable talent at both adapting pre-existing material, AND continuing a film franchise begun by other directors. Whoever directs the new trilogy should be able to seamlessly incorporate their work into the existing Star Wars universe, and Yates has better credentials in this area than probably any director currently working.
The Greek-Australian Proyas is best known for dark, atmospheric sci-fi like the marvelous — yet underrated Dark City and the genre-defining Urban-Gothic fantasy The Crow, so it might be difficult to imagine him at the helm of a Star Wars movie. However, he also directed the big budget Will Smith vehicle I, Robot. The film may have disappointed Asimov fans by being an adaptation of the novel in only the loosest of senses, but it was a solid sci-fi adventure and enjoyable popcorn flick — proving that Proyas could indeed have what it takes. A Proyas-directed Episode VIII would likely move in a grittier, more mature direction than its predecessors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Seriously, hear me out: Star Wars has always been more Science Fantasy than Science Fiction, and Burton is Hollywood’s foremost director of what essentially amount to “modern” fairy tales. A Tim Burton Star Wars could turn the franchise on its ear, and shake the fandom out of its complacency by showing them something truly new–not just another director following the same formula. Now, this COULD be an unmitigated disaster, but wouldn’t you like to see how this glorious nut-job would envision the SW Universe? Even if it sucks out loud, I guarantee it’ll be memorable.
We just need to make sure he doesn’t try to replace John Williams with Danny Elfman.
As SW fans are well aware, Lynch was offered the job of directing Return of the Jedi, but turned it down to make Dune (in hindsight, perhaps not the wisest career move in cinematic history). Many of us have long pondered what would be spawned were the Lynch aesthetic wedded to the Star Wars saga. Maybe it’s finally time to find out.
Dave Filoni’s name is probably the least familiar on this list (he’s the one in the middle, by the way) — but he earns a fairly respectable ranking regardless thanks to directing 34 episodes of the popular animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars , plus the feature film based on the same show. Granted, he’s yet to cut his directorial teeth on a live-action movie, but few working directors know Star Wars better, and only Lucas himself has contributed more material to the saga.
This one’s simple: Ron Howard directed Willow for Lucas — which was essentially, “Star Wars as Fantasy-Adventure”. This makes him the closest thing to a living director of a live-action Star Wars film (aside from Lucas) in existence. Only Spielberg has more experience adapting Lucas’ work, but he’ll most likely play an un-credited, supervisory role in the production of this new trilogy as it is.
The prolific director of such ’80s classics as the Back To The Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Romancing The Stone (not to mention a respectable number of films in the ’90s and ’00s) is connected to Lucasfilm via Spielberg, whom he has worked with on several occasions. Zemeckis knows how to keep an audience on the edge of its seat, AND knows how to incorporate special effects without them overshadowing the plot or characters. A Zemeckis Star Wars would be an engaging, family-friendly adventure–which would likely please both Disney and Lucas.
Andrew Stanton (left, sweater) is likely the second least known name on this list. As one of the very first animators to join PIXAR, Stanton has produced and directed some of the studio’s biggest films — including WALL-E and Finding Nemo. Last year, he lost his live-action director’s innocence with the well-made, but poorly marketed John Carter Of Mars adaptation: John Carter. Stanton would be easy for Disney to work with, his animation background will serve him well given the number of CGI creatures, characters, and effects the new trilogy will no doubt boast, and on a personal note: He got royally screwed on his freshman outing as a live-action director, and deserves another chance.
Best known as the director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wright is my personal #1 choice. His Episode VIII would be clever, innovative, and funny… and humor is something the SW saga (with a few exceptions) hasn’t been quite able to incorporate successfully. Furthermore — Wright is, himself, a huge geek, and would treat the franchise with real reverence.
Tell me Branagh’s Star Wars wouldn’t be magnificent! While best known for his numerous cinematic retellings of Shakespeare plays, Branagh showed us what he could do with a sci-fi superhero adaptation in 2011 when he gave us Thor — for my money, the BEST of the new generation Marvel films. He could do the same for SW and craft a film that’s both fun and epic, visually dazzling with an engrossing story, and a good balance of character development, plot progression, action, and special effects. Fun fact: Back in the 90s, when The Phantom Menace was still just a gleam in Lucas’ eye, rumor had it that Branagh would be playing young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Prequel Trilogy.
Of course, this entire list assumes that Lucasfilm/Disney isn’t simply going to keep Abrams for Episode VIII or even Episode IX! It is our sincere hope that they learned their lesson with the Prequels, and will stick to the proven formula of a new director each movie–as it was in the Original Trilogy.