Since the announcement that New Zealand icon, Taika Waititi, would be directing his own Star Wars film, I’ve been thinking about how many other great directors deserve a chance to put their spin on the galaxy far, far away, all of whom come from different film making backgrounds and draw from different genres and stylistic influences. Make no mistake, that variety is one of the biggest strengths of Star Wars – the original film alone draws from space fantasy serials, old westerns, samurai films, etc. Therefore, I’ve assembled a list of four amazing directors for you, plus recommendations of films of theirs to watch, and some ideas of what kind of Star Wars media they could create based on what they’ve already made and where they draw their inspirations from. And, as per usual this is just my opinion.
CATHY YAN (Dead Pigs, Birds of Prey)
Dead Pigs, Yan’s acclaimed first feature film, is an exceptional social satire mixed with an intense drama – some of the more grandiose moments of the Star Wars sage have been the vast political schemes of the Emperor, so Yan’s approach would fit right in. Combine that with the exceptional action sequences, irreverent humour, and unique visuals of her sophomore feature, Birds of Prey, and we could have an intensely entertaining, thought provoking Star Wars film that explores the structures and institutions of the galaxy in new ways – less Julius Caesar, more political cartoon.
RYAN COOGLER (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther)
It’s almost impossible to underestimate the cultural impact of Black Panther. It was all at once an engaging and entertaining story (especially in regards to Michael B. Jordan’s antagonist Killmonger), a powerful sociopolitical statement, and a showcase of Afrofuturist aesthetics courtesy of Coogler’s long-time partnership with production designer Hannah Beachler. Much of the Star Wars universe has been drawn from the original designs of Ralph McQuarrie, but imagine a film that expands on those original designs in new and interesting ways, and explores the already present themes of alienation, race, and class.
ALEX GARLAND (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Devs)
Garland is a director immensely interested not only in what sci-fi means as a genre, but how to use sci-fi to explore greater ideas about the world around us. Ex Machina is, on the surface, a film about artificial intelligence, but is in fact an exploration of human psychology. Annihilation could simply be another film about aliens, but Garland uses it to delve into how humans cope with trauma and our internal desires to self-destruct. He seems like the least likely person on this list to take up a Star Wars job, but he could be the most fascinating.
YEON SANG-HO (Train to Busan, Psychokinesis)
Not exactly a household name, Sang-ho nevertheless has shown his immense talent at mixing action, science fiction, and horror across his two most well-known projects – the cult classic zombie film Train to Busan, and the remarkable superhero film Psychokinesis. These are also his first two live-action features, and his animation background gives him immense talent in framing and planning extended and thrilling sequences. Seeing his take on concepts like the Force or lightsaber duels would truly be unlike anything ever before seen in a Star Wars project.