While Star Wars Episode VIII is two years away and without an official title, we still have Rogue One to look forward to. The first Star Wars anthology film dropping this December centers on the Rebels who first steal the plans that lead to the Death Star’s destruction. The prequel/spinoff is being directed by Gareth Edwards, a relative newcomer in the filmmaking industry. Aside from his recent reboot of Godzilla and his independent sci-fi film Monsters, Edwards is relatively untested, which makes Disney’s decision to give him their first spinoff movie all the more intriguing.
It seems that the company is taking more imaginative risks with these standalone movies, and that’s a good thing. The best way to keep audiences involved going forward is to find exceptional filmmakers (whether or not they're surefire hit creators) and give them a shot at creating something different within the Star Wars universe. If they’re too similar to the trilogy’s tone, then Star Wars fans will inevitably get bored with Disney’s plans to crank a movie out every year for the next ten years. If they're too different, they risk alienating the core fan base.
These spinoffs should attempt to break away from the core trilogy and offer new genres and ideas that don't alienate the original Star Wars fans. With so much talent in the filmmaking industry, there are no shortage of options to helm these planned endeavor.
Here are 12 Directors Who Should Be Given a Star Wars Standalone Movie.
12 Nicolas Winding Refn
This Danish director’s notable works include hyper-stylized efforts like Drive and Bronson. Often compared to Kubrick, Refn’s style is atmospheric, slow paced, and (usually) brutally violent. Bronson is an experimental biopic about one of Britain’s most violent and rebellious prisoners, and Drive is a character study about an LA getaway driver. While these films’ plots are quite different, Refn’s signature style of brutal honesty and grit can be seen through all of them.
Of course, when you think Star Wars you don’t necessarily think stylized violence, but that’s what would make Refn such a great choice to break out of the box. If these standalones want to truly break away from the serialized episodes and take risks, then Refn would be a risk well took. There are numerous organized crime rackets in the Star Wars mythos, especially the Hutts, which would be a great basis for an ultra-violent Refn film.
11 Robert Eggers
One of the genres that the standalone movies could really dive deep into is in the realm of horror. The franchise has dabbled in the genre — like with Luke’s training in the cave in Empire Strikes Back — but it’s yet to produce something truly frightening. An intriguing concept would be a full-blown horror flick set in the Star Wars universe, and if it ever came to be, Robert Eggers would be the perfect candidate. The director is fresh off the circuit with his new atmospheric horror The Witch, which portrays the chaotic relationship between a family in the 1630s and their struggle with a demonic presence in the woods.
The Witch is psychological horror at its best, with slow burning tension and an eerie supernatural presence. It breathes new life into the horror genre that’s for too long been plagued with jump-scare clichés. The Star Wars canon certainly has plenty of creatures and monsters that would make for great sci-fi/horrors stars reminiscent of the likes of Alien and The Thing — and under the direction of someone like Eggers, it would truly be one for the ages.
10 Ryan Coogler
One of the hottest names in the industry today, Coogler first shot on the scene with his impressive feature length debut, Fruitvale Station. The movie, which touched upon racial prejudices and injustice, won a Un Certain Regard award at Cannes for originality, and it no doubt helped Coogler pitch Sylvester Stallone on his passion project, Creed. Creed went on to garner huge critical acclaim, even getting a Best Supporting Actor nod for Stallone this past Oscars. Coogler is now attached to direct Marvel’s Black Panther movie, further proof that his directing chops are more than enough to handle a Star Wars film.
Coogler’s cinematic style delves in human emotion and the intense relationships that come along with it. He can produce work that makes the audience think, and his technical prowess behind the camera is pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that he's only 29 (!) years old. The director would obviously be a great catch for a Star Wars standalone that dives in the psyche and backstory of a fan-favorite character like Boba Fett.
9 Wes Anderson
You ever sit down to watch a movie and within the first five minutes, you know exactly who directed it? If that's ever happened to you, there's a good chance that Wes Anderson was at the helm. Anderson has created a brand of filmmaking all his own with his long tracking shots, use of symmetry and bright color palette. He’s able to blend obscure drama with quirky comedy in an effortless manner that distinguishes his movies from any other filmmaker working today.
If you’re at all familiar with Anderson’s work, which includes films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Life Aquatic, then you might be asking yourself why he’s on this list. He usually deals in eccentric comedies, a genre that doesn't exactly scream Star Wars. And you would be right, but that is what makes him a perfect director for...wait for it...a standalone comedy about the lives of Star Wars droids. The droids in Star Wars have always been the center of comedic relief in the franchise, and Anderson could create a movie that dives deeper into what makes these funny machines tick. It sounds bizarre, we know, but it could just be the oddest (and most fun) thing you'd see all year.
8 Guillermo Del Toro
If Disney ever decided to do a standalone movie that focuses on the various wide-ranging creatures in the Star Wars universe, then Guillermo Del Toro is undoubtedly their man. The director has certainly made his stamp on cinema, with unique films like Hellboy, Pacific Rim, and of course, Pan’s Labyrinth. Each movie sports unique character designs, from Hellboy’s various supernatural characters to Pacific Rim’s giant monsters. Del Toro is Hollywood creativity at its best, and the incredible amount of detail he pours into every design would be right at home in the Star Wars universe.
The Star Wars series is famous for its creature and monster ingenuity, ranging from the Rancors from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens' Rathtars. In Del Toro’s hands, the creature design alone could become some of the most original the franchise has ever seen, especially if he’s given his own standalone movie. With his unique artistic style pushing the limits of what can be done on film, Del Toro would be a director Disney couldn’t pass up. Plus, now that he's seemingly off both Justice League Dark and Pacific Rim 2, he might actually be available to take on such a massive project in the very near future.
7 Ana Lily Amirpour
Amirpour has recently broke into the mainstream with her incredibly impressive feature-length debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Although the title may sound straightforward, the movie is anything but. The film is a great atmospheric supernatural drama/horror about a vampire stalking the citizens of an Iranian ghost town. Gorgeously shot in black and white, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night made big waves at Sundance and other film festivals thanks to Amirpour’s otherworldly style. She’s now focusing on her next project, The Bad Batch, a dystopian romance set in a Texan wasteland, starring Jim Carrey, Jason Momoa, and Keanu Reeves. Interested yet?
Her style is gritty, violent, mystical and sporadic, but in the best way possible. With her love of supernatural and psychedelic westerns, Amirpour could produce one of the most unique Star Wars spinoffs of any director in the game today. She would be perfect for a creepy atmospheric horror flick rife with tension and paranoia. With Lucasfilm rumored to be looking at a female director for the next standalone project, Amirpour is a very real and exciting possibility.
6 Duncan Jones
Director Duncan Jones is responsible for one of the most refreshingly clever sci-fi pictures of the last 10 years, Moon. The film is a suspense-filled ride with an astronaut spending 3 years on the moon, sending back materials to solve Earth’s energy crisis. The best thing about Moon, and Jones’ follow up Source Code, is that they don’t rely on big bombastic action scenes or set pieces to captivate the audience. They instead thrive on creative ideas and concepts that focus on the human condition. Hollywood took notice of Jones’ skills, and he’s now finishing up his first big budget epic, Warcraft, based on the popular MMORPG series.
The final result of Warcraft will prove whether or not Duncan can handle a big budget studio production that is going to be seen by thousands of people. If the movie comes out and it’s a success, combining big ideas with big action scenes, he could potentially handle a Star Wars standalone project as well as anybody. The director could combine all the fantasy elements of the franchise that made it popular with new, thought-provoking ideas to breathe new life into the franchise.
5 Shane Carruth
Writer/director Shane Carruth didn’t start out as a filmmaker, but instead as a software engineer. He had an idea for a film, and decided to make it himself on an almost nonexistent budget. It’s a good thing he did though, because his first film, Primer, is a twisted time travel movie that constantly keeps the viewers on their toes. The film is a disjointed look on the effects of time travel from a hyper-realistic perspective. Since Primer, Carruth has made a series of short films, but the idea of a Star Wars standalone could inspire him to return to feature-length adventures.
Like Christopher Nolan or Stanley Kubrick before him, Carruth makes movies you have to watch more than once in order to fully understand. While this can sound tiresome, it is quite rewarding to the viewer, as the director doesn’t spoon feed his audience. Watching a film multiple times in order to peel back its layers is almost the opposite type of the Star Wars feel, which again is good to diversify the brand. If he could find a way to patch together his intellectual ideas with the intensity of Star Wars, Carruth would be a stimulating choice for a standalone director.
4 Michelle MacLaren
MacLaren is a highly-accomplished television director and writer that has not yet been at the helm of a film. Although the name might not sound familiar, she's been the driving force behind some of your favorite episodes of renowned series like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. This past year, the director was in line to tackle DC’s live-action adaptation of Wonder Woman, but she opted out at the last minute due to creative differences.
MacLaren reportedly wanted the film to be more action intensive, while the studio wanted it to be more character driven — an interesting flip on an old Hollywood norm. A Star Wars standalone could certainly benefit from a director that is interested in massive action sequences similar to Braveheart. We’ve gotten huge battle sequences in the prequels, but they were all very CGI heavy. A more grounded and realistic approach with MacLaren’s style would bring an action epic in the Star Wars universe to gritty, groundbreaking life. Although her directing has been limited to the small screen thus far, a Star Wars spinoff could be the director’s ticket to the bigtime.
3 Matt Reeves
Reeves is a director most widely recognized for the found footage movie Cloverfield and the increasingly rare "even better than the first" sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Cloverfield, a giant monster movie, reignited the genre by being entirely filmed on a handheld camera. Reeves then proved he could competently tackle more straightforward filmmaking with his fantastic follow up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The sequel was filled with intense action sequences, but also with relatable characters, both human and ape — a remarkable accomplishment in itself.
Reeves has a knack for creating fleshed-out characters in the midst of suspenseful action, making him a frontrunner candidate for a Star Wars standalone. With the director slots of the Han Solo origin film being taken by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the rumored Boba Fett standalone could be a great fit for Reeves given his experience and attention to character detail.
2 Joon Ho Bong
One of the more creative directors on the scene today, this South Korean filmmaker burst onto the scene with the Korean monster movie The Host, a film Quentin Tarantino lists amongst his absolute favorites of the last 20 years. High praise like that led to widespread recognition, which consequently led to Bong's first big-budget outing, Snowpiercer, in 2013. Starring Captain America himself, Chris Evans, Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic journey that chronicles the uprising of survivors of a wintery apocalypse aboard a super-train, and it was hailed as visionary piece of sci-fi thanks to its grand ideas and breathtaking visuals.
If Disney wants to truly create something new and daring, then they should wisely consider bringing on Joon Ho Bong as a director. The filmmaker pairs interesting yet believable characters with highly imaginative fight scenes that truly boggle the mind. His work is violent, but not for the sake of gratuity. His films always have something to say about human nature, which would translate perfectly into the realm of a galaxy far, far away.
1 Neill Blomkamp
This District 9 and Elysium director is no stranger to the world of sci-fi. Neill Blomkamp has been cranking out some of the most inventive sci-fi movies of the last ten years. His feature debut, District 9, is a documentary-style look into the lives of refugee aliens living on Earth. The movie was so widely well-received that it even garnered a Best Picture nominee at the 2010 Oscars, a rare feat for a sci-fi movie. Blomkamp followed up District 9 with more sci-fi hits like Elysium and Chappie, although neither were able to match the director’s first effort.
Blomkamp’s next project was going to be a sequel to the long running Alien franchise, but with the release date to Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant being pushed up, the project has since been put on the backburner. With his schedule currently free (as far as we know), Blomkamp is the ideal choice for a solo Star Wars project. He possesses a ton of experience in the sci-fi genre, and the personal stamp he puts on each of his movies is a memorable one. For these reasons, and many others, Neill Blomkamp is our top pick to take the reigns of a Star Wars standalone film.
Who do you think should direct the next Star Wars anthology film? What genres would you like to see be explored in future adventures? Let us know in the comments below.