According to Deadline’s press release, Rian Johnson will be taking over creative duties for Star Wars VIII and IX. Johnson is known for his critically acclaimed independent movies such as Brick and Brothers Bloom as well as his most recent film, Looper. Currently, this makes three indie directors who’ve been tapped to fill in the mighty big shoes of George Lucas. There’s Josh Trank who directed the 2012’s criminally overlooked superhero movie Chronicle. Meanwhile, Garth Edwards previously captured the colossal scale of Godzilla and Monsters.
Now, before thinking our beloved franchise is being handed off to a bunch of kids with delusions of grandeur, there are some things to consider. First of all, George Lucas took in indie directors for V and VI. Also, Much like what George Lucas pulled off with THX 1138, Monsters, Looper and Chronicle showcase how to capture big ideas with a shoestring budget. This practical approach from independent directors has a history of paying off big for fans. For example, look at Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Although JJ Abrams gave the audience memorable, albeit superfluous, special effects in Star Trek, it’d be nicer for Star Wars sequels to pull us in with character drama rather than rely upon expensive CGI like the prequels.
In addition, Rian Johnson response to the press release conjures up the spirit of young George Lucas. The man who was sweating away in the desert moping to Stephen Spielberg about how Star Wars is sure to be the lowest point in his career. Granted, because Star Wars was a nightmare from it’s conception to it’s post production, Lucas had every right to think he hit bottom, yet Star Wars somehow marked a new age of cinema.
Maybe it’s a tad sadistic, but it’s refreshing Disney is willing to let these directors take the reigns. Sure, they’re cheaper than say JJ Abrams or Joss Whedon, but it also benefits the fans because smaller name directors who work under larger amounts of pressure have often produced great pieces of cinema. Maybe this perspective is a tad optimistic, but who are we kidding? Anything tagged with the Star Wars brand will dominate the box office, but that sadly includes Phantom Menace. However, maybe a fresh vision will bring Star Wars back to its former glory.