News broke that the Han Solo origin film lost its directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. But in Hollywood, talented directors are never out of work for long.
It’s not unusual to hear the same directors’ names pop up over and over when it comes to the blockbuster’s space. Studios like to keep a lot of their trusted talent in-house, and when they do go out on a limb (think Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Kong: Skull Island or Taika Waititi on Thor: Ragnorak), it may be because everyone else is busy. But there’s always a revolving door, and every time a director (or two) leaves a project, there’s always someone else eager and willing to take their place.
There’s a lot of talent out there and one big budget/high profile project usually opens the door to another. Or at least, this seems to be Star Wars‘ latest MO as they move quickly to scoop up hot talent for future projects. For example, Gareth Edwards went from Godzilla to Rogue One, Colin Trevorrow came off Jurassic World and landed Episode IX, and of course, Phil Lord and Chris Miller made The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street before booking the Han Solo origin film.
Then … left.
From an objective standpoint, I have to point out that Star Wars as a franchise has its fair share of missteps. Since the oh so divisive prequels, The Force Awakens still hasn’t proved it’s worthy of all its 2015 praise. Lucasfilm released Rogue One after it, amidst a ton of struggle and reports of conflicting visions between its director and the studio. It remains to be seen how The Last Jedi will fare, and Colin Trevorrow‘s getting all the backlash and more for Episode IX after The Book of Henry debuted and confused the crap out of its audience.
The director duo announced in a statement:
"“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”"
While the phrase may very well be overused, it’s because this happens a lot. And the people who can attest to that most sit in the DCEU fandom watching directors leave left and right.
Previously dubbed the “Snyderverse,” Zack Snyder commanded the helm of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Justice League, but left the last one because of personal reasons. (Joss Whedon will complete the film with his blessing, apparently.) Meanwhile, Michelle MacLaren originally planned to direct Wonder Woman. She, too, left for “creative differences” and boom, Patty Jenkins blessed us with the film currently in theaters.
And then, there’s The Flash. I don’t even think I can count on one hand how many directors The Flash has lost, including Seth Grahame-Smith and Dope director Rick Famuyiwa. The fascinating thing was that they were both working on a script first developed by none other than, that’s right, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Even more fascinating is that they met with the studio again last year after Famuyiwa left the project. While they could’ve been discussing anything, it still makes for curious timing.
According to reports, Warner Bros. wants Robert Zemeckis for The Flash next. But if Lord and Miller appear to be available, why not give them a shot? I mean, both Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman proved that you can experiment with visual styles and make creative and artistic films within the DCEU, perhaps in a way that one may not be able to with Star Wars.
As someone told Variety:
"“Kathy, her team and Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that’s how they want it made.”"
While directors receive a lot of credit for the success of a project, nothing marks a win to Hollywood quite like money. So if Star Wars feels like they’ve cracked the money-making formula, so be it. That would put them in leagues with everybody else under the Disney umbrella that makes relatively cookie-cutter films, i.e. Marvel and Disney itself.
Hopefully, the ongoing success of Wonder Woman will show talented directors that they don’t need to be afraid of the DCEU or pay attention to all the haters. After all, James Wan still sits quietly in the corner minding his own business making the Aquaman film of his dreams.
Currently in production, Han Solo may or may not open next May. But stay tuned for more coverage as this story continues to develop.