‘Star Wars’: Taika Waititi’s Movie Will Be the First in Over 40 Years to Be Co-Written by a Woman

Star Wars fans got a big surprise on May the Fourth aka “Star Wars Day.” On the annual celebration of the “galaxy far, far away,” Lucasfilm announced Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) will direct a new film. The company gave no update about an anticipated release date or potential cast. For all fans know, Waititi’s film could be the Star Wars movie slated for a 2022 release.

For now, Star Wars fans at least have some idea what to expect next. After Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the saga’s big-screen future was left uncertain. Now Waititi’s hiring appears poised to break some new ground for Star Wars storytelling. As the first person of color helming a Star Wars movie, Waititi is also recruiting some surprising behind-the-scenes help.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels in 'The Empire Strikes Back'
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ | Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Taika Waititi will direct a new ‘Star Wars’ movie but co-write

Waititi’s entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok seemingly marked his first step toward Star Wars. The announcement of Thor: Love and Thunder hinted at a deeper relationship between Waititi and Disney. And following unconfirmed reports in January 2020, Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit Oscar win seemingly clinched the Star Wars gig.

But as much as fans have strong feelings about Waititi, he won’t be crafting this Star Wars story by himself. Rather, Krysty Wilson-Cairns will co-write the screenplay alongside Waititi. Most recently, she earned an Academy Award nomination for co-writing 1917 with director Sam Mendes. But the new Star Wars film will be her first time working within a franchise.

Prior to 1917, Wilson-Cairns was best known for her work on TV’s Penny Dreadful. She also co-wrote the upcoming horror film Last Night in Soho with director Edgar Wright. And she is working on The Good Nurse, a drama starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne. While Wilson-Cairns has a terrific track record, her hiring is significant for another key reason.

The ‘Star Wars’ movies have lacked a female storyteller for decades

Waititi will be the first person of color to direct a Star Wars movie. But Wilson-Cairns will be only the second woman to have a credited hand in writing one. More than 40 years ago, Leigh Brackett shared co-writing credit with Lawrence Kasdan on The Empire Strikes Back. And since then, the voices behind Star Wars have been exclusively male.

Interestingly, The Empire Strikes Back is also considered by many fans to be the best of the entire saga. That film also introduced Yoda, delved into Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) romance, and unleashed the father of all plot twists. While George Lucas also has a “story by” credit, it appears the lion’s share of the script rested on Kasdan and Brackett.

But Brackett reportedly only contributed the first version of the script, since she passed away in 1978. Still, it sounds like she was instrumental in laying the groundwork for what The Empire Strikes Back would grow into in Kasdan’s hand. Although he is rightfully regarded as a vital part of its success, Brackett is often overlooked for her work on the movie.

But that appears about to change, both on Disney+ and the big screen

Thankfully, Lucasfilm seems intent on giving women a larger place in Star Wars. Since the Disney acquisition in 2012, the saga has been flooded with new female characters. Daisy Ridley’s Rey, Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Solo‘s Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are proving the future of the series is indeed female. And behind the scenes, that seems to be the case as well.

The Mandalorian, for instance, has already featured two female directors in its first season. Deborah Chow — who’s taking on the Obi-Wan show — and Bryce Dallas Howard are the first women to direct live-action Star Wars. With Waititi and Wilson-Cairns kicking off a new post-Skywalker era, fans could be seeing their first female-directed entry sooner than they think.