The news that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm and is continuing the Star Wars franchise hogged the spotlight last week, enough so that many people missed the news that Bryan Singer has officially replaced Matthew Vaughn as director on the X-Men: First Class sequel (subtitled Days of Future Past).
It’s possible that issues of creative control contributed to Vaughn’s departure – as happened during his pre-First Class attempts to collaborate with 20th Century Fox on X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (for more on that, listen to this week’s SR Underground Podcast). However, a new rumor linking Vaughn to Star Wars: Episode 7 suggests there may’ve been much more to the story than we originally thought.
Mark Hamill has revealed that concrete plans for more Star Wars began coming together over a year ago (at the latest), though there are still conflicting reports as to whether the film will be based on an old story treatment written decades ago by George Lucas (who is serving in a ‘creative consultant’ capacity on the project) or a brand-new screen story altogether. Either way, whoever signs on to direct is in a good position to also be involved in the scripting process – while keeping true to Lucas’ ‘vision’ for the future of the franchise.
Vaughn, as it were, has co-written every film he has helmed since his directorial debut on Layer Cake. Moreover, Jane Goldman (The Debt, The Woman in Black) has collaborated with Vaughn on each of those screenplays, and the two had reunited for Days of Future Past. Hence, hiring on Vaughn to oversee Star Wars 7 makes sense, in regard to the dual roles he would play as writer and director – not to mention, most likely bringing his trusted geek-culture-savvy screenwriting partner Goldman to assist him.
Those two would have as much freedom as Joss Whedon had with The Avengers, based on the assumption that Disney and Lucasfilm are looking for Vaughn to serve as a possible architect for future installments in the new Star Wars trilogy (similar to Whedon’s role in ‘Phase 2′ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Vaughn and Goldman also wouldn’t have the constraints that came with First Class, such as the prequel format and a rushed production schedule (since Episode 7 won’t be arriving for another three years).
In other words: there’s a strong argument to be made, with respect to the idea that a Star Wars movie would appeal more to Vaughn than another Fox-backed X-Men flick – since he would have more artistic freedom working on a treasured geek franchise. Vaughn has also been gunning to tackle a big, big-budget blockbuster for some time, and now has the resume to prove that he can deliver the goods (something he did not possess when he approached Marvel with a $300 million+ vision for Thor).
Now, of course, the other question: Is Vaughn a good fit for the Star Wars franchise? Well, with his work on First Class and Kick-Ass, he has demonstrated a capacity for crafting the sort of exhilarating action sequences and effects-heavy set pieces that a Star Wars movie calls for. Furthermore, Vaughn’s adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel Stardust nicely illustrates his ability to mix playfulness into the proceedings – as opposed to the comparative seriousness of First Class or the dark comedy/satire of Kick-Ass – while incorporating elements from Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (or ‘Hero’s Journey’) that was so influential in shaping Lucas’ original vision for Star Wars.
That’s all to say: Vaughn has shown that he can handle imaginative storytelling, strong character development, massive spectacle, dark drama, whimsical comedy, and everything in between – all of which are elements that should be present in any decent Star Wars movie (to some degree, of course). Hence, if he does sign on as director, that could be a good sign for the future of the franchise.
Do you like the idea of Matthew Vaughn directing Star Wars: Episode 7 (and maybe beyond)?