Star Wars: Who's In The Chair?

Arts Editor and Senior Writer (many years until 2012)

We rate ten directors' chances of helming the next Star Wars epic.

In what has to come as a relief to fans who have long insisted that George Lucas has lost his touch as a writer and director, the Star Wars creator will be taking a hands-off approach to the latest instalment in the series. But if The Bearded One isn't in the director's chair for Episode VII, who will be?

michael bayMichael Bay
Worst thing's first. Bay would be every thinking fan's worst nightmare, but let's face it — someone must be buying all those tickets. One day Bay will tire of making Transformers films that barely feature Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboots about turtles who aren't teenagers or mutants, and on that day, he will turn his gaze towards the biggest, baddest franchise on the block. If he comes a-courtin', will the beancounters at Disney have the good sense to turn him down? We can only hope. Either way, don't expect Hugo Weaving to lend his voice to the production.
The Verdict: No... that's not true... that's impossible!

jj abramsJJ Abrams
JJ Abrams really, really likes Star Wars. We know this, because he was given the Star Trek franchise and effectively turned it into Star Wars.

Abrams is fond of secrecy, and would feel right at home with this franchise (which has a history of filming under fake names). On the set of Super 8, he developed a similar relationship with Hollywood demigod Steven Spielberg as George Lucas himself. He'd be a great choice, but with Star Trek 2 in the can, and sequels sure to follow, it's difficult to imagine Abrams would even want the job.
The Verdict: He must do what he thinks is right, of course.

Bryan SingerBryan Singer
No stranger to sci-fi, Singer flirted with remakes of Logan's Run and Battlestar Galactica before eventually deciding to keep chilling in his pool full of House money instead. The allure of Star Wars might have been enough to get him to commit, but he was literally just confirmed as the director of 2014's X-Men: Days Of Future Past instead. Besides, last time Singer took on a '70s fantasy classic, it didn't work out so well.
The Verdict: These aren't the droids we're looking for. He can go about his business. Move along.

Gore VerbinskiGore Verbinski
With Star Wars now under the Disney umbrella, they just might turn to the architect of their last blockbuster trilogy. Of course, this would require them to ignore almost everything else he's been involved with, including the underwhelming The Mexican and The Ring, the morose and borderline unwatchable The Weatherman, and, indeed, two of his three Pirates Of The Caribbean films. Still, Rango was pretty good, wasn't it?
The Verdict: We've got a bad feeling about this...

Wes AndersonWes Anderson
Remember that movie about the guy who was in love with his sister, who was seeing his scoundrel of a best friend? No, not The Empire Strikes Back. The other one. The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson understands dysfunctional families, and his obsessive attention to detail would no doubt please OCD Star Wars fans. But with his singular vision, he's probably not the right guy for this — or any — franchise.
The Verdict: He's programmed for etiquette, not destruction.

christopher nolanChristopher Nolan
Nolan's dream franchise is numbered: 007. But with rave reviews rolling in for Skyfall, it's unlikely Sam Mendes will be relinquishing that gig anytime soon. Where, then, is a director enamored with huge budgets and sci-fi gadgets to go? Directing the Star Wars sequels isn't as much of a no-win scenario for Nolan as you'd think — the prequels set the bar low, much like Joel Schumacher's Batman films, and nobody knows what to expect from the new films, leaving him some room to experiment. All the same, we can't see him wanting to jump straight back into a major franchise like this one.
The Verdict: Let's just say he'd like to avoid any Imperial entanglements.

david lynchDavid Lynch
Lynch was famously offered the job of directing Return Of The Jedi (this was straight after Elephant Man, when he was at something resembling his commercial peak). He's always maintained that he had "next door to zero interest" in the job, though, and we can't imagine that's changed now that Disney's running things.
The Verdict: Lynch is our kind of scum: fearless and inventive. But he's not Disney's.

irvin kershnerIrvin Kershner
This isn't the first time Lucas has stepped away from the director's chair. In 1980, he handed the reins of The Empire Strikes Back over to Kershner, whose mature approach and focus on character development resulted in what many consider to be the strongest entry in the series. Could he work his magic again?
The Verdict: Oh, he's not dead... Not yet.

No, wait, he totally is dead. Kershner passed away in 2010, after a three and a half year battle with lung cancer.

joss whedonJoss Whedon
Whedon essentially already had a crack at writing and directing a Star Wars film with 2005's Serenity, which spun out of his space western TV series Firefly. It underperformed at the box office, but thrilled fans and critics. Since then, Whedon has experienced success at the box office with The Avengers — but he's also commited to directing Avengers 2, due for release around the same time as Episode VII.
The Verdict: The Force is with Whedon, but he is not a Jedi yet.

andrew stantonAndrew Stanton
Stanton won two Oscars for directing Finding Nemo and Wall-E. He also directed A Bug's Life and co-wrote Monsters, Inc. and every Toy Story film. These are all Pixar films, of course, and Pixar has a long history with both Disney and George Lucas.
Since then, Stanton directed John Carter (based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels that inspired parts of Star Wars). Carter failed spectacularly at the box office, but that had more to do with the obscurity of the source material, mediocre marketing, and the advertised presence of Taylor Kitsch than it did with Stanton, who proved he had a deft hand for family-friendly sci-fi adventure. He's commited to directing Finding Nemo 2 by 2016, but it's possible the studio would let him pull double duty.
The Verdict: Help us, Andrew Stanton. You're our only hope.

Well, that's our 10. But what's this? A wild card in the deck? A dark horse stealthily galloping towards the front of the pack? Ladies and gentlemen, there is another.

george lucasGeorge Lucas
Running a business is tough. For 35 years, Lucas has carried the weight of the Star Wars empire on his shoulders. Today, he unburdened himself, and there's nothing like a good unburdening to light that creative spark. Is Lucas ready to get his hands dirty in the trenches once more? Will the real director of THX-1138, American Graffiti and the OG Star Wars please stand up?
The Verdict: Your powers are weak, old man.

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