Directing Star Wars

Reporting Star Wars news is not my thing, in large part because there are more than enough sites – official sites and fan sites alike – that deliver a near up-to-the-minute stream of happenings in the Star Wars franchise. Yet, I felt compelled to say something about the recent announcement from Lucasfilm that J.J. Abrams has accepted the offer to write/direct Star Wars Episode IX. While Episode IX was originally slated to be the brainchild of Jurassic World writer/director Colin Trevorrow, the studio parted ways with Trevorrow, thus paving the way for Abrams to return to the Sequel Trilogy he launched with The Force Awakens.

That Abrams is reentering the Star Wars universe is neither surprising or all that controversial. For the studio (and parent company Disney), bringing a known and successful variable back to the writers/directors chair makes perfect sense. Still, with the announcement I could not help but feel a pang of dismay, having hoped that the head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, would choose a woman to write/direct Episode IX in the wake of Trevorrow’s dismissal. Abrams may have been the safe and reasonable pick, but choosing a woman could have injected an entirely new and fresh perspective into the Sequel Trilogy, particularly to round out the heroine journey of Rey. But alas, that ship of possibility has sailed (unless, of course, Abrams crashes and burns, prompting a third writer/director to be named…a doubtful prospect).

And so, as we move forward, towards the end of the Sequel Trilogy and into a new era of storytelling that will certainly follow – not only with continued standalone films but also, perhaps, a fourth Star Wars trilogy – I am left wondering: when will Lucasfilm finally hand the writing/directorial reigns over to an accomplished woman? Certainly, there are an endless stream of successful women adding to the Star Wars universe already – authors, editors, producers, production managers, sound mixers, makeup artists, wardrobe and costume designers, artists, actresses, and more. Yet, the most coveted position, that of director, is yet to be filled. Will Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins, Kathryn Bigelow, or another accomplished woman ever be given the chance/opportunity to bring their experiences and worldviews into the Star Wars franchise? My hope is yes, my gut tells me yes, but my heart is tired of waiting.

You might, in turn, wonder: why do you care, Jeff? It will happen someday, so why not let bygones be bygones and just go with the Star Wars flow? I do not deny it, it will happen. I know it will happen, it is only a matter of time (and there is a prime opportunity to really mix things up with a woman directing the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone film). But I do care because I am frankly tired of people like me – translation: men – getting all of the g-damn credit for the Star Wars franchise’s pinnacle achievements. This is neither a slight towards Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy (whom deserves great respect for overseeing the franchise) or against those countless women behind the scenes (or literally in the scenes as actresses). Rather, it is a deeply held desire to sit in a theater and watch a Star Wars movie that does not simply present female characters (and male counterparts) adhering to philosophies that seek, and teach us as viewers, to dismantle normative and oppressive ideologies, but that does this most loudly when a woman’s name appears on the screen as writer/director.

Lest I be interpreted incorrectly, I do not simply desire to watch a Star Wars film (nay, MANY Star Wars films) directed by a woman, but also films directed by persons of color, men and women alike. The experiences and worldviews of women, people of color, persons of different religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, ethnicities and more WILL bring new, fresh perspectives to the films we experience in theater. I truly hope, nay I pray, that those Star Wars stories are not far, far away.

5 comments

  1. Did you see that they are making a new Lord of the Flies with an entirely female cast…directed by men? Yes, oh yes, isn’t that interesting?

    First of all, one of the reasons why Lord of the Flies is so interesting is BECAUSE it’s boys. But forgetting that for a moment – really? An all female cast of LotF directed by men? Rolling my eyes.

    I agree with you though. We should have a woman director and it would have been nice to see it while we know Rey is in the story. I would have loved that. But as long as they stay true to Rey, I’m going to be fine with where we’re going right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, I will be fine if the story stays true to her. I am really not mad about Abrams returning, and think he will, in fact, do right by Rey. Speaking of which, I find it a little bit absurd anyway that we are discussing the direct of Episode IX when Episode VIII hasn’t even been released. I’m not saying we can’t talk about it (duh, I just wrote about it) but would we really be talking about all of this if Lucasfilm hadn’t named three directors for three films right from the start? It is just an odd way to approach filmmaking I guess…

      Anywho, I really do hope the Kenobi film (if it IS in the works) is given over to a woman. I think that would be a hell of an amazing idea but I suppose we will see what happens (and if I need to write this post again).

      Btw, I didn’t know there was to be an all-female Lord of the Flies. That is really interesting, but very unfortunate that it was handed over to a man. Do you plan to see it or will you choose to forgo it (for any reason)?

      Like

  2. Uh, no to Lord of the Flies. I’m not sure why I brought that up or got so into it. I think because it was a “new” and revolutionary thing for them to make an all female cast but then they kind of ruined it by having it directed by men. I don’t mind men directing women and women directing men…but it is strange to have a movie where the entire cast is female so will deal with a lot more female nuances and have it directed by not one, but two men.

    Speaking of the odd way of approaching – I’m not sure I like it, especially in light of these constant changes going on. I was surprised when they announced it but understood why. If one was a flop, they had a chance to redeem themselves with a different director. But it also gives us a strange level of inconsistency that I’m not sure how it will play out until I see it. I’m happy Abrams will be coming back and completing it. I think he’ll do right by the characters.

    I, for one, hope there is not a Kenobi film for a long time only because it screams wanting to make money. I want them to try something different again, like RO, which though I didn’t like it – I appreciated that it was different and outside of characters we know.

    Liked by 1 person

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