The Star Wars 9 Director May Be a Familiar Face

By  · Published on March 18th, 2015


Here’s a Star Wars rumor that will likely surprise no one: Latino Review reports that J.J. Abrams is the frontrunner to direct Star Wars: Episode IX, the next next entry into the venerable franchise and the last feature in the new trilogy. The site shares that “there are enough conversations about J.J. Abrams returning to direct Episode IX that we’ve been able to independently verify it four times that his name is the front-runner for the last trilogy installment and the movie isn’t due until 2019, but maybe the Disney process doesn’t clash with the Mystery Box Maker as much as we originally thought.” These talks appear to stem from everyone’s pleasure with what Abrams has churned out for this year’s Star Wars: Episode VII, which will arrive in theaters this December, presumably wearing a kicky leather vest.

Of course, this is news at least two years away from coming to fruition – with the film due in 2019, it seems safe to guess that Disney and LucasFilm would announce their director with two years’ lead time – that will follow both Abrams’ first Star Wars film and presumably Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will open in May of 2017. It seems a little soon to lock down a director just yet, and there’s one other issue to address: J.J. Abrams probably shouldn’t direct the film anyway.

We’ve yet to see even a full trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, so gauging the quality of the final film (and if it’s good enough to get Abrams a new gig) is a fool’s errand, pure speculation, but what we have seen does look good – and that includes a stellar casting lineup. If Abrams has done even one thing well, it’s line up a cast of new faces and returning talent that is genuinely great, from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver. There’s also Abrams’ outsized excitement about the film, the kind that speaks to his personal affection for the property. And, hey, he did pretty well with that other Star property (which he then promptly left when it was time to make a Star Wars film, oopsie).

Lens flares aside, everything we’ve heard about The Force Awakens has been encouraging, but that doesn’t mean the Abrams reign needs to extend into 2019. The original Star Wars trilogy didn’t adhere to snapping up returning directors either, and all three films were directed by different people (of course, there’s also the persistent rumor that George Lucas basically directed Return of the Jedi, but you get the point), so there is a precedent here that, yeah, kind of worked out in the past.

For one thing, Johnson hasn’t even filmed an inch (a pixel?) of his Star Wars film, but this rumor makes it sound like he’s already out of the running to direct the follow-up to his own film. Abrams is tasked with re-entering our galaxy far, far away, using both known characters and quantities and fresh faces, while Johnson will presumably expand all that stuff outward into new realms. Why not keep Johnson around to direct the next film? Probably because, again, this is all wild speculation, no matter how unsurprising it is that Disney and LucasFilm would want to keep Abrams – a bigger name than Johnson, at least for now – around in case they need him.

But why not go bigger and bolder? Johnson is a somewhat offbeat choice to helm a Star Wars film – an extremely well-regarded indie director who proved his ability to do more mainstream action with Looper, but still, not a guy on Abrams’ level – while the Star Wars spinoff features have snagged directors with similar backgrounds, like Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank (well, we’ll see on that one). Beyond Abrams, Star Wars is looking like the kind of gig that rising stars (sorry) are snagging, so why slow that momentum?

Still, this could very well be the kind of news that we spend the next two to three years arguing about – and what if The Force Awakens is a showstopper, and everyone decides that Abrams is the exact man for the job? – but for now, we’d like to see someone new take up whatever kind of multi-crossed lightsaber the ninth film in the franchise has to offer.

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