Yesterday, it was announced that J.J. Abrams, the sci-fi Commander-in-Chief, was to return to the galaxy far, far away to direct and write Star Wars: Episode IX. Disney’s very short post revealed the bare minimum of information, with a quote by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy stating that:
With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy.
However, the bare minimum is all that’s needed when geeking out about the up-and-coming Star Wars flick. Abrams returning is no happy coincidence, and there’s a lot of good this could do for the third installment to the new incarnation of this beloved franchise. In Kathleen’s words, J.J. “delivered everything we could have possibly hopes for”, and that’s quite the compliment. Disney’s iron fist on its products is notorious, and other directors have either left or been fired from their projects for creative differences in the past. Most recently, Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) exited Episode IX for “differing visions”. Nice and vague. Before that, everyone and their mother decided to leave the Han Solo stand-alone film. Clearly, the ability for directors to impart their own take on the Star Wars universe is as difficult as winning a game of holochess to a Wookiee.
But, J.J. was able to accomplish this in The Force Awakens. However, now that he’s returning for the third installment, I’m reminded of what happened to Joss Whedon and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon absolutely killed it with Avengers Assemble; it still remains one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films to date. However, when Age of Ultron came out, it was common knowledge that Whedon suffered from burnout and frustration when dealing with studio expectations and his own vision for the story. Compromises were made, and even though Ultron isn’t bad, necessarily, it did suffer. Directors are often seen as the conduit between the film set and the film studio making money from it, and it’s a hard relationship to manage. Of course, this is quite a pessimistic way to look at things, but there’s a common denominator in all this: Disney. Can J.J. keep the studios at bay for Episode IX while completing the third act of the new trilogy? Or will Disney’s shadow cast too much of a shadow over the director’s vision?
Well, Star Wars: Episode IX will be released on 20 December 2019, and we’ll have to wait until then to find out.
Final thought: I like to remain positive and I genuinely think that Star Wars is on the up-and-up. I’m excited to see what J.J. brings to this film. He’s a Star Wars fan at heart and he knows what The Force Awakens’ flaws were. If there’s anyone to put our hopes into, it’s J.J. Abrams.