Who could replace Colin Trevorrow and direct “Star Wars: Episode IX”?

Some rather huge news broke two days ago when Lucasfilm announced that they’d parted ways with filmmaker Colin Trevorrow, who was scheduled to direct Episode IX of the Star Wars saga. It’s supposedly a mutual parting, but the poor reception to Trevorrow’s recently released The Book of Henry definitely didn’t help instill confidence in Kathleen Kennedy and company. Whatever the case may be, Episode IX now needs a new director (a writer may or may not be required, as Jack Thorne was recently brought on to do a new draft of the screenplay). There’s a definite disturbance in the force, so hopefully this is only a temporary ripple. We shall see, I guess?

This is nothing new for Star Wars of late, oddly. Trevorrow now joins a club that includes Gareth Edwards, the team of Phil Lord & Chris Miller, as well as Josh Trank. Edwards was pseudo replaced by Tony Gilroy (consider him a dark horse here to pick up Episode IX) on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Lord & Miller were fired midway through the Han Solo spinoff in favor of Ron Howard (ditto, X factor wise), while Trank was canned before he even got a chance to start his Boba Fett project. At best, Kennedy has a hard and fast vision of what Star Wars should be and won’t risk anyone jeopardizing the brand. At worst, Lucasfilm doesn’t know how to work with directors. Regardless, they once again have a choice to make regarding a new director.

Here are a half dozen names to consider for the job:

(Special mention for J.J. Abrams, as this rumor has already supposedly been debunked regarding his candidacy, but it made a lot of sense)

Ava DuVernay – Hiring DuVernay would probably be the biggest headline. The first female director for Lucasfilm, it would be a big deal. It wouldn’t just be for publicity either, as she’s just done a science fiction blockbuster (for Disney no less) with A Wrinkle in Time. She wouldn’t be the the most obvious choice, but if Kennedy and company tap her, it certainly would be a quality pick.

Jon Favreau – I have long thought that Favreau would be a perfect choice to do a Star Ears film. Between his Marvel blockbuster work and now his motion capture Disney outings (begun with The Jungle Book and soon to include The Lion King), he seems ideally suited to the gig. He might not be available or interested, but if he is, he is well worth at least talking to.

Alex Garland – Garland has worked with a few Star Wars cast members already, so that could give him an edge if he’s interested in taking over this movie. His upcoming Annihilation is a jump into the higher budgets leagues, so Episode IX certainly could be up his alley. If Kennedy and Lucasfilm still wants to look at up and coming auteurs, he seems rather obvious for at the minimum a meeting.

Rian Johnson – The most likely option right now is to see if Johnson will return to follow up his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My hunch is that it’s his if he wants it to be. Ideally, I’m sure Johnson would prefer something more personal in between, but time will tell. The smart money is on continuity, so bet against this pick at your own risk. Time will tell here…

Joe Johnston – Here’s a legacy pick. Johnston has worked on the original trilogy, so short of going to George Lucas, this is the most sentimental pick to make. He certainly has the goods in his filmmaking background too, so while it’s not a sexy choice, it would be a solid one. Consider him a fairly safe backup plan to some of the other names on this list.

Steven Spielberg – This could be slightly more of a likelihood than you’d expect. Spielberg is always on the cusp of doing either a Stars Wars film or a Bond one, so perhaps he’d finally jump on for this conclusion? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I wouldn’t totally dismiss it either…

This is how my personal preference would go, among the names mentioned above:

9. Tony Gilroy
8. Ron Howard
7. Joe Johnston
6. Alex Garland
5. Ava DuVernay
4. Steven Spielberg
3. J.J. Abrams
2. Jon Favreau
1. Rian Johnson

Stay tuned to see who ends up getting the Star Wars gig!

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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