J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars VII. What a sentence. If my soothsayer friend had told me this back in 2009, I would have laughed, cried, and then shot him with my blaster.
Luckily, it’s 2013, just a few months after the revelation that more Star Wars films were on the horizon, so the surprise isn’t quite at a “shoot your soothsayer” level yet. Since the announcement, several directors have been circling around the same chair waiting for the Chalmun’s Cantina Band (this one) to stop playing so that they could scramble for the helming position.
Today, the dust has settled. In the bloody massacre that was the battle to win the favor of the good lady Disney for the most sought after job in Hollywood, J.J. Abrams has emerged victorious, light saber in hand, to fulfill the prophecy and claim his destiny. But will the decision to put J.J. Abrams at the head of the second most popular franchise in history bring balance to the force?
Options were aplenty in the days leading up to this announcement, with speculation that Matthew Vaughn had given up the reigns to his X-Men: First Class sequel to direct the film, all the way up to the idea that Joss Whedon would go ahead and just do everything forever in the name of Disney.
Although the prospect of turning Disney into an “all Joss all the time” studio might sound appealing to some, it was never going to happen.
Jon Favreau was circling the position, which would have made total sense given his penchant for delving deep into his stories while maintaining a level of fun and humor (something that the good Star Wars films were able to do), as were Brad Bird and Darren Aranofsky.
Bird recently made his action bones with the excellent Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and with an imagination that knows no bounds, he would have certainly made for a great choice. If Aranosfky weren’t so busy with Noah, he might have been a viable option, but then again, I’m not positive that I would want to see Yoda pulling out his fingernails and overdosing on black tar heroin.
The announcement of a director for something as internationally beloved as Star Wars was never going to please everyone. In response to this news, a select few responded in the words of Darth Vader when he was told that Padme was dead, but we at Hypable want to edge on the brighter side and hope that he’s able to do for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek, what he did for monster movies, and what he did for serialized television.
Abrams successfully resurrected Star Trek to the delight of most, so hiring him to create a new take on an aging franchise is a numbers game, pure and simple. He is very good at rooting his characters into real situations, and his history in television suggests that he has more than enough experience with how a story is supposed to be told.
We’ll hear plenty of jokes about, “oh, it’s gonna be Star Wars: Revenge of the Lens Flare,” and that’s all good and fun, as long as we realize on a deeper level that the upcoming film will be at least the best Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi. We can all agree on that, right?
If anything, we can imagine that since Abram’s has agreed to direct, that Disney is preparing a universe that is very different from Star Trek.
I mean, Abrams only made the Star Trek universe all shiny and flare-y because it fit into the production design that wanted to suggest that everything was brand new. New characters, new relationships, hell, even a new Enterprise.
For a film that’s rumored to be about the restructuring of the Jedi council, we can only imagine that Star Wars VII will be darker, dirtier, and less sparkly than it’s Trek half-cousin.
If Abrams’ Star Wars is anything like the Star Wars films that we grew up with, it’ll have action. It’ll have humor. It’ll have characters we can root for and relationships you can sink your teeth into. If we look back on Abrams’ work, he’s already shown that he’s completely capable of delivering exciting work with enough depth to create an interesting universe.
Literally the worst thing that can happen is the best Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi. Just rest your head on that for the next two-and-a-half years if today’s news is keeping you up at night. Although Abrams might now have earned the reputation of being the greediest sci-fi director in Hollywood, he also represents something much more to Star Wars fans worldwide — a new hope.