Could it be true? The rumors were spreading like wildfire as soon as multiple reports claimed that Rian Johnson (Looper) would be helming the next episodic Star Wars chapter after J.J. Abrams (Star Trek). It was finally reported on Friday by the Hollywood Reporter that Johnson would not only write and direct Star Wars Episode VIII, but would also tackle the first draft of the screenplay for Star Wars Episode IX.
Disney and Lucasfilm haven’t stopped trying to get as much young talent as possible for the new films in the iconic franchise. In keeping up with their trend of hiring directors with impressive science-fiction credentials, Johnson joins Josh Trank (Chronicle) and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) as filmmakers tapped to direct Star Wars films.
Johnson’s past work for the silver screen has been more than exceptional. Making his debut in 2005 with the impeccably well-written high school noire Brick, Johnson has made a career out of presenting smart thrillers that could be both dark and wickedly funny.
In 2009, Johnson released his second film, The Brothers Bloom. The strange but well-loved film about con-man failed to generate a sizable reaction from audiences when it was initially released in theatres. It did find success on DVD, and now has a sizable cult following.
Looper, the most recent of his films, would become his most commercially successful. With an all-star cast featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, the film presented a tale about time travel in a dystopian Kansas. Not getting lost in its own “science,” Looper concentrated on character development and story, and it paid off in spades. It not only reminded audiences that Willis was more than capable of delivering a strong performance, but it showed that Johnson could deliver on an intelligent concept, while making a ton of money too.
Perhaps Johnson’s greatest credentials involve him telling a story in someone else’s world. His past work on Breaking Bad shows that he can create compelling stories just as much, if not more so, on the small screen. Directing three episodes in the series, Johnson is probably best remembered for directing Season 3’s “Fly,” which was an experimental episode set in one location, and Season 5’s “Ozymandias,” an episode that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has said is easily the best of series.
So, what could we possibly see in a Rian Johnson Star Wars movie? Perhaps a little too early to start speculating right now, it would be a safe guess that the second chapter of this third trilogy could potentially be the darkest. If these movies follow the original films in tone, which Disney and Lucasfilm seem to be desperately trying to recapture, Johnson could potentially be directing the Empire Strikes Back for this generation.
I realize that’s a hell of a statement to make, and I’m basing it off nothing, but Johnson’s resume points to someone who doesn’t sacrifice good storytelling for CGI explosions. If he can deliver those feelings of shock and dread that gripped audiences to their seats like the iconic game changing reveal in Empire, then he’s more than qualified. I for one could not be more excited to see him get the job, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to a galaxy far, far away.
What about you reader? Excited that Rian Johnson will be helming a Star Wars film? Let us know in the comments below!