LOS ANGELES - It's the question we've all been pondering from the second we heard that three more "Star Wars" movies were planned: Who will direct them?
When George Lucas announced last week he was selling Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion, he also revealed that the long-rumored Episodes VII, VIII and IX were in the works. Instantly, fans began tossing around names of directors who'd be a good fit for this revered material.
So let's call this a wish list, a wouldn't-it-be-cool list. Because a lot of the people here are tied up with franchises of their own - who knows if they'd be available to take over the first of these films, due out in 2015? Others are just people whose work I admire and I'd be curious to see how they'd apply their styles within this universe.
Then there's also the theory that Disney executives and Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm who will become the division's president, won't want an auteur, someone who would put his or her own aesthetic stamp on the franchise. There goes your dream of seeing Chewbacca and R2-D2 through the eyes of David Lynch.
Whoever is chosen, whether it's a new director for each film or the same person taking over the trilogy, I think I speak for all of us when I say: Please, no Ewoks:
- J.J. Abrams: The most obvious choice, really. His sci-fi bona fides were already beyond reproach, and he solidified them with his reimagining of the "Star Trek" franchise in 2009. His sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness" is due out next year. This just makes sense all around.
- Joss Whedon: Another pretty obvious choice. Like Abrams, he has cultivated a well-deserved and loyal following among sci-fi fans between "Firefly" and "Serenity," but he catapulted himself into a whole `nother stratosphere with this summer's enormous hit "The Avengers." Thing is, he may be just a tad busy with "The Avengers 2" - which is also due out in 2015.
- Brad Bird: He directed the most recent and best in film in the "Mission: Impossible" series, last year's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." It gave Bird the opportunity to use his animation expertise from the beloved Pixar films "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille" to make a live-action movie that was lively and thrillingly staged. This would be an excellent fit.
- Jon Favreau: He's a massive "Star wars" fan and is extremely knowledgeable about Lucas and his life. He's also shown he can manipulate the kind of massive machinery it takes to make a blockbuster with the hugely successful "Iron Man" movies. This would also be a no-brainer.
- Christopher Nolan: Dark Knight. `Nuff said.
- Peter Jackson: Sure, it makes sense. He's gotten his arms around gigantic franchises with rabid fan bases, to universal acclaim and awards, with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But the last of his three "Hobbit" movies comes out in 2014. He might already be kinda wiped out at this point.
- David Fincher: A hugely confident, virtuoso filmmaker mostly known for drama, but his remake of the Swedish hit "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" was epic and just heart-poundingly thrilling, and "The Social Network" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" showcased his mastery of special-effects trickery.
- Sam Mendes: This might seem like an odd choice until you see "Skyfall" this weekend. And you really should see "Skyfall" this weekend. But the "American Beauty" director said the whole experience of making a James Bond movie left him "knackered," to quote him, so who knows whether he'd be up for such a massive undertaking so soon.
- Matt Reeves: A longtime friend and collaborator of Abrams, he directed "Cloverfield" which showed he has an eye for visceral sci-fi action. But "Let Me In," his English-language version of the Swedish vampire thriller "Let the Right One In," revealed his ability to create a chilly, tense mood.
- Matthew Vaughn: His "Kick-Ass" was exactly that, a lively, funny tale of wannabe superheroes, while his "X-Men: First Class" was one of the better-reviewed films in the series. Before that, his debut film "Layer Cake" (starring a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) showed an instinctive ability to create tension and mood.
- Mark Romanek: He's just such an amazing visual stylist, I'd love to see what he'd do with this kind of well-established material. He made his name as a music video director, including the super-expensive space-age video for Michael Jackson's "Scream." But the couple of features he's made - "One Hour Photo" and "Never Let Me Go" - were so gorgeous and had such a signature look, I'd be curious to see what he could do with a bigger toy box.
- Kathryn Bigelow: She's just a bad-ass, a pioneering female action director. She proved she had a way with big, splashy set pieces two decades ago with "Point Break" and became the first woman to win the best-director Oscar for "The Hurt Locker." I'd love to see this male-centric universe from a female perspective.
- Guillermo del Toro: This is my dream "Star Wars" director. Of course, it will never happen. The ingenious maker of "Pan's Labyrinth" and the "Hellboy" movies has a visual style that's so wonderfully weird and inspired, it would never be allowed in such a structured setting. But it would be wondrous to watch.
- Ben Affleck: Probably not the first name you would have thought of a month ago. But "Argo" proved that Affleck is a major filmmaker, and showed he could step deftly from the intimate drama of "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" into much a larger and more complicated project. Plus it would allow him to redeem himself with fanboys following the debacle of "Daredevil."