[Update: It's official: J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars 7!]
Ever since Disney first announced that not only would Star Wars be coming back, but would do so in the form of a full-blown sequel in Star Wars Episode VII, speculation ran rampant over what story the film would tell. And more importantly, who would be trusted to tell it.
It seems that speculation can end, as it is now being reported that J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode 7, coming to theaters in 2015.
The report comes courtesy of TheWrap, after a source close to production is claiming that not only has producer Kathleen Kennedy been pursuing Abrams for the director's chair for some time (not hard to understand, given his runaway success rebooting Star Trek) but that despite misgivings, Abrams has finally agreed.
The news will come as particular surprise to those who've been following the ongoing shortlist of Episode VII directors; J.J. Abrams was quick to shoot down rumors of his involvement from the very beginning. At the time, he cited the massive pressure and responsibility as his main reason for wanting to pass on the job, desiring to remain simply a fan.
Apparently things have changed, although exactly what this means for the ongoing franchise development and Abrams' relationship with Paramount is unclear. It's still too early to assume that Disney is looking for Abrams to oversee the next generation of Star Wars fiction, perhaps contemplating a deal similar to that signed with Joss Whedon on the Marvel side of things. But if the studio has so doggedly pursued Abrams despite his apprehension (as he continues to make Star Trek a mass-market franchise) then this isn't likely a one-time gig.
Given the myriad of names (some more risky than others) that have been thrown around as possible directorial candidates, it's hard for even skeptics to argue that Abrams isn't a bit of a relief. Guillermo Del Toro, Ben Affleck, and even David Fincher were all mentioned in the conversation - but for each one of their strengths, the question remained: would that work in a Star Wars universe?
Since Abrams has previously said that his creative team's approach to the Star Trek reboot was partly built around 'bringing a bit more Star Wars to Star Trek,' that question seems to have been answered. If the strengths of Star Trek can be brought back to the series that partly inspired it (lens flares or no) then it's hard to be concerned that Episode 7 won't be an enjoyable, competent sci-fi action film. That may seem like setting a low standard, but the past decade of Star Wars projects hasn't exactly raised the bar.
What this means for the rumored Star Warsspin-off films remains to be seen, since we're not even sure what role George Lucas will have as the brand is expanded upon by Disney. Or perhaps more importantly: what does all this mean for what we perceived to be a Star Trek series that had a successful road laid out in front of it? At this point, it's anyone's guess.
We'll keep you updated as the report is either confirmed or denied, but for now it seem Star Wars fans can breathe easy, and attempt to digest the knowledge that both Star Wars and Star Trek are now being controlled by a single director.
What's your reaction to J.J. Abrams being trusted with both Star Wars and Star Trek? Does talent beat out fanboy objections, or is this too close for comfort? Sound off in the comments.
Star Wars Episode 7 is due in theaters in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: The Wrap