5 dream directors for Disney’s Han Solo Star Wars prequel


Disney’s highly anticipated Han Solo-centered Star Wars prequel is now without a director. We suggest five filmmakers who could replace Lord and Miller.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shocked the film world (or at least Film Twitter) by announcing Tuesday night that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have left the Han Solo Star Wars prequel. Clashes between filmmakers and studio executives are hardly unusual – just look up the production history of Gone with the Wind. But it is unusual to see such a massive change so late into production.

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I wasn’t especially enthused about Lord and Miller getting the gig in the first place; they’re competent, but not interesting enough to offset the frustration of seeing yet another high-profile film entrusted to white men. My interest in general has fluctuated. A Han Solo origin story is utterly unnecessary; everything we need to know about him is in A New Hope. Still, Bradford Young and the cast piqued my curiosity.

Regardless, it spells trouble for the franchise. If you believe rumors, a similar upheaval happened on Rogue One, with Tony Gilroy usurping credited director Gareth Edwards. And details about Josh Trank’s departure are shady (though he says it was his choice). Luckily, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi seems to be going smoothly. But it’s hard to have faith in a project when the people in charge won’t let the people they hired do their jobs.

So, what happens now? A replacement will be announced soon, someone on whom Kennedy can rely to finish the job. (Ron Howard’s name is already floating around.)  Realistically, no director would want to touch such a mess. It’s like asking a position player to pitch in a lopsided baseball game; you’re being set up to fail.

But let’s imagine an ideal scenario, where the director arrives with a clean slate. Here are five people who should take over the Han Solo movie

Kathryn Bigelow

Okay, I just really want Kathryn Bigelow to direct a Star Wars movie. Preferably, it would have been Rogue One (no offense to Gareth Edwards, who I like), but what’s done is done. Before you say any nonsense about her being too good for Star Wars, remember that long before she won an Oscar, Bigelow was making pulpy genre movies like Near Dark and Point Break. And, as terrific as The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty are, I’d love for her to return to her roots. Action filmmaking nowadays is starved for someone with her visual panache and aptitude for generating tension. She’s cool, and if a Han Solo film needs to be anything, it’s cool.

Watch this: Strange Days

Juan José Campanella

A prominent filmmaker in his homeland of Argentina, Campanella is probably best known in the U.S. for directing The Secret in Their Eyes, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and inspired a forgettable English-language remake. He makes this list, however, due to his work on Colony. Campanella is responsible for nine of the 23 episodes that USA’s under-appreciated dystopian drama has aired, and those he didn’t direct still bear his influence. While not obviously “cinematic”, his gritty, unfussy aesthetic immerses viewers in the world onscreen, imbuing every moment with a sense of danger. Who doesn’t want a Star Wars movie with lots of canted angles?

Watch this: Colony, s2ep4 “Panopticon”

Anthony Hemingway

Kathleen Kennedy once compared the Han Solo film to a Western or heist movie. Hemingway served as the go-to director on WGN America’s Underground, which filched elements from both genres to create a slavery narrative that defied convention. Backed by a gloriously anachronistic soundtrack, he made history immediate, visceral, and, yes, thrilling, uncovering humanity amidst unspeakable tragedy. Compared to that, Star Wars is a piece of cake. His resume also includes episodes of The Wire, ER, Battlestar Galactica, Community (!), Treme, Glee (!!), and American Crime Story; you won’t find a director with more experience or versatility.

Watch this: Underground, s2ep1 “Contraband”

Wendey Stanzler

I’m not saying TV is better than movies. Yet, much of the filmmaking that excites me right now, especially in the genre realm, is being done on the small screen. If you want epic fantasy, there’s Game of Thrones. If you want an espionage thriller, there is The Americans. And for action, look no further than Arrow. The fight sequences in any given episode of the CW superhero serial are more electrifying than those in the vast majority of blockbusters. Stanzler stands out, though, for the action-free “Underneath”. That hour (not to mention her work on comedies like Parks & Rec and You’re the Worst) displays an ease with intimacy, an ability to navigate and balance banter and emotion, that should be as enticing to studio heads as the ability to stage a battle. But she can do that as well.

Watch this: Arrow, s5ep20 “Underneath”

Danny Boyle

Don’t you just want to see what it would be like? Even Boyle’s failures are interesting, and he’s already proven that he can elevate an unnecessary franchise extension. For real, though, the best version of a Han Solo origin story would essentially be Trainspotting in space.

Watch this: 28 Days Later

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The Han Solo Star Wars movie is scheduled for release on May 25, 2018.