Colin Trevorrow is no longer directing Star Wars: Episode IX, and fans of the franchise have very strong feelings about who should replace him.
As soon as the news of Trevorrow’s departure broke on Tuesday, one name emerged as the overwhelming favorite to take over for him: Rian Johnson. He’s the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a film that Lucasfilm is reportedly very happy with. Johnson is also someone who is already beloved among Star Wars fans if only for his interactions with the community, many of whom like the idea of having some continuity between films rather than having a completely new set of writers and directors every time.
It looks like fans may get their wish, as Deadline is reporting that Rian Johnson is currently the frontrunner to take over. After Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo movie, Deadline reported that Ron Howard was the frontrunner, and this ended up being the person Lucasfilm hired not long after. Though it would likely be grueling for Johnson to go right from work on The Last Jedi into work on Episode IX, it would be possible for him to do so, especially considering The Last Jedi is reportedly just about complete at this point.
Rian Johnson has already said that he would make another Star Wars film “in a heartbeat.” But it remains to be seen whether he would make another one so soon, with almost no break between The Last Jedi and Episode IX. If the ninth installment is to hit its May 2019 release date, it likely needs to start filming this fall or early next year at the absolute latest.
I would do another SW movie in a heartbeat. I've had the time of my life.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 20, 2017
Other than Johnson, a few other directors are being mentioned among fans as possible replacements, one of whom is Ava DuVernay. DuVernay is known for directing the 2014 Best Picture nominee Selma, and she’s also the director of the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time. She has a relationship with Disney due to her work on that latter film, and if she were brought on, she would be the first woman to direct a Star Wars film. DuVernay is a fan of Star Wars, and according to J.J. Abrams’ commentary track for The Force Awakens, DuVernay actually suggested one of the best moments in that film: the beat of Rey closing her eyes and channeling the Force during her duel with Kylo Ren.
J.J. Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, is also being discussed as a potential Episode IX director. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams is a serious contender for the role, and Slashfilm recently reported on its podcast that there has been a rumor floating for months that Lucasfilm wants Abrams back to close out this trilogy.
“I heard they’re ready to back the dump truck up to his house and be like, ‘Please come and do this movie for us,'” io9 reporter Germain Lussier noted on the Slashfilm podcast.
But it’s unclear whether Abrams would even be interested, especially since he reportedly clashed with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy on The Force Awakens.
Finally, another name that has been mentioned is Lawrence Kasdan, a Star Wars veteran who wrote the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Kasdan also worked on the screenplay for The Force Awakens and the upcoming Han Solo film, and he has a close relationship with Kathleen Kennedy. When Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo movie, Lawrence Kadsan was floated as a possible replacement, but Director’s Guild of America rules forbid a director from being replaced with another member of the movie’s creative team. This time, though, no such rule would prevent Kasdan from directing Episode IX.
One person who definitely won’t be taking over Episode IX is Taika Waititi, the director of Thor: Ragnarok. When the possibility of him being hired for Star Wars was brought up to him on Twitter, Waititi took a brutal jab at Lucasfilm, saying that he wouldn’t do it because he likes to complete his films.
Lolz. I like to complete my films. https://t.co/Uj6RgKbo9V
— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) September 6, 2017
Ron Howard was announced as the new Han Solo director only two days after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired, and so we may learn who the new director of Episode IX is by the end of this week.