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A Geek's Reaction to Rian Johnson Directing Star Wars: Episode VIII

Rian Johnson

By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)

Well, I didn’t see that one coming! As we’ve already reported, Rian Johnson, director of Brick and Looper (both awesome films) has landed directorial duties on Star Wars: Episode VIII. More than that, he’s also been tapped to write Episode VIII and the treatment for Episode IX. Johnson then would presumably pass the story onto whoever is directing the final chapter in the sequel trilogy.

With Josh Trank and Gareth Edwards both on board to direct standalone Star Wars films in between the episodes, it makes sense that we’d hear about who is directing Episode VIII. It at least answers the question of whether JJ Abrams would be returning for Episode VIII.

Hint: the answer is no.

Why Not Zoidberg Abrams?

This begs the question of why Abrams is only being brought on for the first film and not the second. One reason may be to get different ideas to keep the franchise fresh, which would be a valid reason, but I think the real reason is logistics.

Abrams is now in the middle of production but Johnson can start developing the second film. As Episode VII goes into post, Episode VIII could already be prepped to shoot. Remember, the first 2 trilogies had 3 years between each episode, and the new trilogy will only have 2 years between them (2015, 2017, and 2019).

Who’s Flying This Thing Anyway?

I am surprised that Lawrence Kasdan wasn’t brought back for Episode VIII as writer (and maybe director?), but Rian Johnson has been a writer/director for all of his films. It sounds like Lucasfilm is putting a lot of faith in their creative hires, rather than hiring someone to toe the line.

While Johnson is writing Episode VIII and the treatment for Episode IX, it should be pointed out that he, Abrams, and Kasdan are all working from an outline originally provided by George Lucas. The visual style has already been established by Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand, and Lucas himself on the original and prequel trilogies, so there are certain parameters that everyone will adhere to, anyway. For example, you can expect to see three different types of planets in each of the new episodes — it’s a motif that appears across all 6 films.

Rian Johnson also makes me wonder about the structure of the sequel trilogy. He’s been tasked to basically make a new version of The Empire Strikes Back. The middle story in a serialized trilogy is always tricky, in that it doesn’t really have a definitive ending but the viewer needs to leave satisfied. Empire did this brilliantly… The Martrix: Reloaded, well, not so much.

The second film will also need to be darker, and Abrams has never gone as dark as Johnson. Rian also writes an element of mystery and crime into his films, so maybe that will be a part of this film?

Lucasfilm has been hiring amazing talent to bring Star Wars back to the big screen. I can’t wait to see who they’ll have direct the final film. (doddleNEWS Web Content Manager and Editor Heath would like to see David Fincher, who was once hoped for by fans to direct Episode III.)

Star Wars: Episode VII will be released December 18, 2015.

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