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

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21 2012 5:27 p.m. MST

Beyond financial matters, though, it’s not hard to see how a similar approach to the one used on “Pirates” could lend itself to a new “Star Wars” feature, balancing intense, CG-heavy action sequences with plenty of humor, memorable characters and colorful visuals.

The biggest obstacle for Verbinski, though, is his reboot of “The Lone Ranger” with Johnny Depp as Tonto, which is set for release in 2013.

With a hefty $255 million price tag, Disney is more than likely hoping to turn “The Lone Ranger” into another blockbuster franchise under the guidance of Verbinski, and in that case, Star Wars would probably be out of the question.

If Verbinski did get the job, though, the big question would be what character would Depp play?

Jon Favreau

In many ways, Jon Favreau could be the likeliest candidate for the job.

Best known as the director behind “Iron Man,” Favreau’s successful take on the Stan Lee character not only raised the bar for superhero movies, but it also set the stage for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, including last summer’s $1.5 billion-grossing blockbuster “The Avengers.”

Favreau bowed out of directing “Iron Man 3” in order to helm another project for Disney — a “Night at the Museum”-style movie set in the Disney theme parks — but so far, that project has yet to take any real shape.

Meanwhile, one of his other in-development films, “Jersey Boys” — a musical biopic about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons — recently fell through at Warner Bros., leaving Favreau free to tackle a big project like Star Wars.

Most importantly, though, Favreau is an outspoken fan of Lucas’ films, even voicing a character on the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series.

When asked about his possible involvement in a sequel, he said, “I’m just giddy, first and foremost as a fan, to see what happens with it. I think there are a lot of question marks about how they are going to do it, and who they are going to do it with, and what the story is going to be about … The idea of another trilogy that further shrouds the Force in mystery as its secrets are lost to time — that’s extremely compelling. I want so bad for it to be good. Can you imagine?”

Favreau might feel like a safe choice, but with a property as big as Star Wars, safe might not be a bad thing.

Rian Johnson

One name that keeps popping up as a possibility on fan sites is Rian Johnson, and for good reason.

Although Johnson is still relatively unknown outside of indie circles, his latest effort, the low-budget time travel flick “Looper,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, showcased his ingenuity as both a writer and director, not to mention his ability to handle action and sci-fi elements — a definite plus for anyone involved in future Star Wars installments.

What’s more, like Favreau, Johnson is also a vocal fan of Lucas’ sprawling universe.

While he might be more of a long shot than some of the names on this list, Disney’s recent track record with the Marvel films proves more than anything that they are open to taking risks with directors. Just look at the unconventional choices they have lined up to handle “Phase Two” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filmmakers like James Gunn (“Slither”) and Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) don’t exactly scream mainstream appeal.

Besides, with three critically acclaimed features under his belt, Johnson already has more practical experience than Christopher Nolan did when Warner Bros. gave him control of the Batman franchise.

If Disney is looking to get film buffs and Star Wars purists enthusiastic, Johnson could be the ideal candidate.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Peterson is studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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