Who could direct Disney's new 'Star Wars' movie?

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21 2012 5:25 p.m. MST

In this May 20, 2011, file photo, Disney CEO Robert Iger, left, and Star Wars creator George Lucas, third from right, talk to the Star Wars movie character Darth Vader, center, onstage at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park during the re-opening celebration of the Star Tours motion simulation ride in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.


Enlarge photo»

Ever since Disney broke the news that it had purchased LucasFilm and would be moving ahead with a new Star Wars sequel for 2015, the Internet has been inundated with rumors about who could take over as director.

Every big name from Christopher Nolan to Steven Spielberg to David Fincher has been thrown around by fans eager to see fresh life breathed into the franchise.

So far, though, the only concrete information that has surfaced is who won’t be tackling the new movie. With each passing day, the list of filmmakers who have publicly opted out of directing “Episode VII” gets longer. Just recently, two names rumored to be on Disney’s shortlist, Colin Trevorrow and Brad Bird, both denied any involvement.

So who does that leave to take over for George Lucas? With only rumors and speculation to go off of, here’s a look at five possible candidates and why they may or may not be good choices to carry on the adventures of Luke, Leia and Han in a galaxy far, far away.

Matthew Vaughn

After having revived the X-Men franchise with last year’s “X-Men: First Class,” it came as a huge surprise when Vaughn (“Stardust”) recently dropped out of directorial duties on the sequel “X-Men: Days of Future Past” mere weeks before filming was set to begin.

An unconfirmed scoop courtesy of Collider’s Steve Weintraub, however, reported that Vaughn might, in fact, have jumped ship on Xavier’s gifted youngsters in favor of the chance to tackle dueling Jedi and Sith lords.

However, what is probably a more likely explanation for Vaughn's last-minute departure came from collaborator, Mark Millar, who said the two are hard at work developing Millar’s comic book series “Secret Service” for the big screen.

Of course, with a 2015 release date for "Episode VII," that doesn’t necessarily rule out Vaughn's involvement.

If he is chosen, fans will have a lot to look forward to. Vaughn has proved himself time and again as a talented director with a knack for memorable action sequences and assembling top-notch casts. For proof, just check out James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s performances in “First Class.”

Joe Johnston

Throughout his career, Johnston has developed strong ties to the Mouse House, having helmed hits like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” “The Rocketeer,” “Hidalgo” and, most recently, Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

But long before he ever sat down in the director’s chair, Johnston actually cut his teeth as a concept artist and visual effects technician on the original Star Wars trilogy. In fact, he designed many of the characters and vehicles that define the look of Lucas’ universe, including Yoda, the Ewoks, the Millennium Falcon, the X-Wing and Boba Fett.

After Lucas himself, no other director has as much experience playing in the Star Wars sandbox. Johnston even wrote a book set in the Expanded Universe, and in the past, he has talked openly about his desire to someday make a Boba Fett movie.

When asked by the Huffington Post about the possibility of directing “it,” meaning “Episode VII,” Johnston gave the non-committal response that, “A lot would depend on what ‘it’ is. I am very glad to see LucasFilm cranking up to get productive again, regardless of who ends up doing it.”

Gore Verbinski

Having directed the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies for Disney, Verbinski is responsible for a franchise that has already pulled in close to $4 billion for the studio.

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