Could J.J. Abrams become the new godfather of the “Star Wars” universe?

JJ Abrams
After mentioning Star Wars yesterday when talking about the box office prospects for 2015 releases, I kind of had the franchise on the brain for the rest of the day. Go figure then that one of today’s bigger rumors out there is that the co-writer/director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens J.J. Abrams could be directing more than just that installment, which is Episode VII in the saga. We already know that Rian Johnson is writing and directing Episode VIII while also doing a treatment for Episode IX, so I suppose Abrams could be privy to what is going on and is interested in returning. Another time I’ll offer up some potential alternative filmmakers, especially if Abrams winds up not taking the gig, but for now I wanted to talk about if he does wind up doing it. Essentially, Abrams could be going from the godfather of the Star Trek franchise rebirth to the head of the Star Wars one.

First of all, I want to stress that I think this is a positive development on two fronts. One is that we already know Abrams can relaunch a dormant science fiction property with aplomb, considering what he did with Star Trek (and to a lesser extent, Star Trek into Darkness) a few years back. The other factor to consider is that this hints that the folks at Disney probably are really pleased with how Episode VII has turned out. I’m sure that if Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t looked at as excellent work by Abrams, the powers that be would either be trying to lock up Johnson to finish the sequels or looking elsewhere for a new creative voice. With that not the case, this at least feeds into the rumor that the new movie is strong stuff. Obviously, we don’t know for sure, but it’s good buzz for the film, that’s for certain.

Abrams clearly has experience executing long term visions, as he’s been involved with the television shows Alias and Lost, along with one of the Mission: Impossible installments. Yes, while he didn’t stay with the franchise after Mission: Impossible III in terms of directing, he did get that ship moving in the right way and has remained a producer. Throw in his continued producing capacities with Star Trek and he’s certainly got a veteran presence when it comes to this sort of thing. That seems to be serving him well in the Star Wars universe.

Of course, there could be plenty of chatter on the internet about other filmmakers getting their shot at this if either Abrams accepts or declines, or if this turns out to just be a rumor and nothing more. Even I have a list of names I’d love to see get the job, which I’ll put up one day if Abrams doesn’t wind up making Episode IX, but either way, you have to keep this in mind…the stand alone movies and spinoffs coming each year seem to be a perfect spot for that. Just look at Gareth Edwards making what is now called Star Wars: Rogue One, plus the other standalone project with Josh Trank at the helm. Those are talented young directors who undoubtedly were influenced by the original Star Wars, just like Abrams was. The same goes for Johnson too. It won’t be only Abrams regardless of what happens, so please don’t forget that if you’re especially passionate about this subject. I get where you’re coming from, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

In the end, we won’t know what’s happening with Abrams and Episode IX for perhaps at least a year, so this is all super early speculation. Right now, we only know that Abrams is finishing Episode VII, called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while Johnson is beginning the work on Episode VIII. In production as well is Edwards’ Star Wars: Rogue One and Trank’s untitled Star Wars project, so get set for lots more on this franchise in the coming months and years. In the immediate future, we can look forward to a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens probable in the next month or so, so get excited for that, if nothing else…

Stay tuned to see what happens to Abrams and the Star Wars universe!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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