So after another director shakeup for Star Wars directors, J.J. Abrams is directing Episode IX. He previously directed The Force Awakens and was heavily involved in The Last Jedi as a producer. So it was an easy choice to make when came to him jumping back on board. It was also the safe choice.
I do slightly agree that The Force Awakens played as something of the greatest hits of Star Wars. Some people would have you believe that the movie was a complete rehash of A New Hope. I do not fall into that camp as there was enough new to help smooth out the treading of old ground. Also all the blame cannot be put on Abrams for that as that huge was multiple hands playing a factor.
I do think fresh blood would have been best for the project. New ways of thinking always brings out something new in projects. Of course the director would still have to answer to Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm. It’s like any job where you can bring your ideas to the table but you’ll still have to do it within the confines of whoever’s in charge. With all the director shake ups lately, it is easy to blame Kennedy for being the problem but who really knows?
A benefit of Abrams finishing what he started is that things are very much different from when he started. The Force Awakens was a rushed product with numerous script changes. Episode IX is not supposed to start filming until mid 2018 and Disney pushed the release date back to December 2019. That gives Abrams enough time to work and develop the script with Chris Terrio and hopefully not deliver a rehash of Return of the Jedi like everyone fears. I am someone who does not have these fears as I think Abrams is very much aware of the criticisms that faced him with his first Star Wars outing.
Though I am a little apprehensive about Abrams returning as like I previously stated, it is far from the worst choice. Lately I have been trying to approach things with a more open mind and be more positive. All the previously released Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, both had issues but turned out to be solid films. I believe Abrams will deliver a solid final outing for the trilogy that he started.
First and foremost, I love Rian Johnson’s films. Brick and Looper are some of my favorite movies I have ever seen. He directed some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad. So when he was announced as the director of The Last Jedi, I was ecstatic. I don’t have this bias against J.J. Abrams like some people do but I was glad he was not going to direct any other films post The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson has a certain grit to his films that could bring something new and needed to the Star Wars franchise. So when Colin Trevorrow was announced as not directing Episode IX, many people hope Rian Johnson steps in to direct. I do not.
One of the best things that I liked about the original trilogy and something that was lacking from the prequels was the lack of different directors. Sure George Lucas ultimately had final say over the sequels to A New Hope but there were still other people there so it’s not like he had total control. Of course with the prequels, Lucas had no one to answer to or even go to for checks and balances and those films ultimately suffered. So when Disney bought the rights and they announced different directors for each film, people were happy as variety does keep things fresh.
As of this writing, The Last Jedi is 99 days away from being released. No one outside of Disney and Lucasfilm knows how the film actually is. As far we know, it could be the greatest thing ever or a huge dumpster fire of a film. Since I do have faith in Johnson to make a competent film, I am not worried about the quality of the film. It was filmed early last year and has been worked on for over a year and by the time it comes out, it will have been worked on for about a year and half. It is not a rushed film like The Force Awakens was.
But I still think Johnson should stay away from Episode IX. I think he would be able to deliver a quality film and work with some of the issues going into the film especially since he worked on the previous entry in the franchise. But I like directors to be fresh and in the right state of mind. On Twitter, Johnson has been candid about being open to returning to the directing helm and of course he would. He wouldn’t bad mouth the franchise especially before his film comes out. If he skipped a film and came on to the next one, I think that would be a better move as he would be refreshed. I can’t imagine working on a Star Wars film under the Disney banner.
It is an interesting time in the Star Wars franchise. Since this new incarnation of Lucasfilm under Disney is still relatively in its infancy, there are going to be some stumbles. This whole director stuff seems to be things trying to figure itself out. If Johnson returns for Episode IX, I’ll be disappointed but I won’t be upset. If he chooses not to and another person steps in, I hope they do a good job on finishing the trilogy. Now who in Hollywood is willing to step in to direct this film.
Colin Trevorrow, the director of Jurassic World and Book of Henry, has officially left Star Wars Episode IX. I can’t say that I’m bummed out about the news since I’m not a fan of any of the director’s works. Not saying that this could not have been a great film with him at the helm but it was the one I was least anticipating. This news comes at a time where directors cannot seem to stay on a Star Wars film. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired three weeks before the untitled Han Solo movie was supposed to finish principal photography. Gareth Edwards, though credited as director of Rogue One, was not involved in the heavy reshoots that the film underwent.
I can’t say that I’m really going to blame Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm, for this. Being hired to direct a Star Wars film is not something you should go in expecting to direct an auteur type of film. This is a billion dollar franchise and so there are going to be a lot of eyes on it and that means it is ultimately at the heed of its owners. They fund the project and so what they want is what goes. I know it’s “cool” to be against big studios and all that but that’s just the base about it.
The news came out that it was “creative differences” and I tend to believe that. Since there isn’t much to go off and the film is so far off, I tend to believe it. The film has a lot going on for it and maybe Trevorrow just wasn’t up for the task. Episode IX is wrapping up the current Star Wars trilogy, they have to deal with the unexpected death of Carrie Fisher, and who knows what repercussions from The Last Jedi the film will have to deal with. If a director who is also serving as a writer isn’t handling it up to the studio’s expectations, then maybe they should go. The film wasn’t supposed to start filming for a few months anyways. If it was in the middle of filming or close to ending filming, then I’d be worried. But this is just business as usual but since it’s a Star Wars movie, it’s under extra scrutiny.
Now the big question is…who will director Episode IX?
It’s pretty bad but it’s a start
It’s well known that after the fourth Avengers movie, things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be different. Not just in universe but also in real life. Many of the stars of the movies will no longer be contractually obligated to appear in the franchise. Who knows what story will affect these characters we have come to know for almost a decade now. Just the one thing for certain is this: change. Change is coming whether we like it or not. President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige has said that he is not even sure if the Marvel Studios films will even be categorized in phases anymore.
Back to Basics
I love the MCU but even I’ll admit that things have become overblown. Almost every movie involves the world at stake. Now with the culmination of the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet storyline, it would be the perfect time to scale things back. With the recent successes of Logan and Deadpool, it would be foolish for Marvel Studios not to take notice. Those films were done on relatively smaller budgets and told more intimate stories that yielded both critical and financial success. Showing that not all of these movies need to have climaxes with large explosions and full of computer graphics.
More Standalone Films
The nature of interconnected movies is the biggest draw of the MCU. But you can also see how it can be a double edged sword. This basically makes it that every film more or less to service the films that came before it and after. Just like the comic books that inspired them, not every story is connected with one another. Sometimes these heroes just get into their own adventures without it having to effect a future story and especially another hero’s films.
The biggest out of place moment in Ant-Man was the scene where he had to steal a certain object. Who did the object belong to? Howard Stark who is currently deceased so it now belongs to Tony Stark. Where did Tony happen to have it stored? In the Avengers’ headquarters. Who just happens to find him and fight him? The Falcon. The scene was fun but it really served no real purpose other than to set up Ant-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It has no real effect on the plot.
New Faces Take The Lead
Robert Downey Jr. has been the face of the MCU since the first Iron Man movie in 2008. His appearances in the franchise make him one of the highest grossing actors in Hollywood. His cohorts such as Chris Evans are not that far behind him. They have effectively become too expensive especially Downey. Actors also want to do other things with their careers other than appear in these superhero movies. So now the with contracts running out after the fourth Avengers movie, it is time to phase out these older heroes in favor of new ones.
It’s no real shock that Marvel Studios started introducing new heroes such as Ant-Man at the end of Phase Two and new heroes such as Black Panther, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange at the beginning of Phase Three. There are still those upcoming such as Captain Marvel played by Brie Larson on the way. So as major and supporting heroes continually get introduced, you can see a cycle forming. Older heroes will be phased out in favor of the new ones who will eventually become the old heroes and so new ones will be introduced. This way giving the audiences something new and not exhausting them of the heroes who came before and building up anticipation.
One thing for certain about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is change. The change is coming in one way or another. Who knows what shape or form it will take? The MCU is much different now than when it sarted. Imagine how it will be in another five years. That may be scary for some but change is also necessary. I personally cannot wait to see how this film franchise/universe changes.