[UPDATE: Reps for Zack Snyder are denying that the director is currently attached to any Star Wars projects. Vulture reiterates that Snyder flew out the meet Lucasfilm reps. Scroll down for more.]
Get ready for slow-motion Star Wars action - as fan-favorite director Zack Snyder is reportedly prepping a standalone "Samurai" film set in the galaxy far, far away. The Man of Steel helmer is currently busy polishing up Superman's next onscreen appearance for Warner Bros. and many comic books fans had hoped/speculated that the director might stick around the DC camp in order to shoot the highly anticipated Justice League film (set for release in 2015).
For now, it's too early to say whether or not Snyder will eventually be announced as the director of Justice League but, regardless, the new report suggests that Disney is interested in snagging the filmmaker's talents for a future Jedi project - specifically a Seven Samurai-like adventure set in the Star Wars universe.
The report comes from Vulture who asserts that Snyder's Star Wars entry will be a standalone project not a "numbered" trilogy entry (meaning it's not episode 7, 8, or 9). Details are very scarce at this point but there are a few things we do know - assuming that Vulture's information is accurate (and doesn't change as development ramps up).
- As mentioned, the film is expected to be a stand-alone story set in the Star Wars universe and NOT a trilogy entry.
- The Samurai Story will take place after Episode VI and likely tell a story that occurs in the same timeframe as Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.
- The setup is loosely based on Seven Samurai, the 1954 classic from Akira Kurosawa.
There's no chance that the film will arrive before Episode 7 in 2015 - which will be the official launch point for Disney's Star Wars entries. Considering the mouse house intends to release one Star Wars movie every two or three years, Snyder's movie would launch in 2017 or later - and serve as the first non-trilogy film set between core "numbered" episodes. For that reason, as mentioned earlier, there's still a chance that Snyder could secretly be in line to helm DC's Justice League movie, dependent on the performance of Man of Steel. It's also worth noting that just because Snyder is developing the film, he isn't necessarily locked to direct - though it's hard to imagine he'd pass the movie off to someone else.
For anyone who hasn't seen Seven Samurai (note: you should), the basic set-up centers around a town that is regularly looted by bandits. Unable to defend their homes and belongings, the villagers hire seven masterless samurai to protect the village from a scheduled return for the robbers - who plan to raid the town following the harvest. Six years after the film's release, Hollywood put its own twist on the format with The Magnificent Seven - a gunslinger western.
It's unlikely that Snyder intends to simply swap out samurais and kitanas for jedis and lightsabers but there's obvious ways to make the story concept work in the Star Wars universe. In fact, Star Wars: The Clone Wars viewers have seen Lucasfilm explore similar plotlines before - as early as season 1 in the episode "Defenders of Peace" and most notably the season 2 episode "Bounty Hunters" (which features four bounty hunters and three Jedi defending farmers from pirates). Obviously, The Clone Wars is set in the time frame between Episodes 2 and 3 and presented in a CGI animated format but even on the small screen Jedis banding together in defense of less capable innocents is still immensely satisfying.
At this point, since we know very little about the overarching direction of the post-Episode 6 Star Wars movie universe story, it's hard to speculate on the events that will lead to a band of Jedis defending a helpless town from evildoers - especially since the film may not be connected to the upcoming trilogy at all.
That said, Snyder saw great success with a comparable concept: 300 - where a small band of spartans face the massive and well-equipped Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae. The movie put the director on the map, thanks to slick visuals and exciting choreography. As a result, it's easy to imagine a more mature Snyder (the one who filmed Man of Steel not Sucker Punch), paired with the blockbuster-producing resources of Disney, could deliver a rich and entertaining stand-alone Star Wars adventure. We'll know soon enough how the director handled the super-powered Man of Steel but a combination of slick Seven Samurai and 300-like lightsaber choreography paired with visually stunning "force" powers could be a good match for Snyder's moviemaking strengths.
There are plenty of complaints that can be leveled against the Star Wars prequels but there's no denying that watching fully-trained Jedis fighting in their prime was a lot of fun. Not everyone is a fan of Snyder, and for understandable reason, but there's room to be cautiously optimistic that he could deliver the most exciting big screen Star Wars entry since the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi.
[Update 1: The Obligatory Denial]
The Hollywood Reporter has received word from Zack Snyder's PR reps who claim the director is not developing a stand-alone Star Wars film (or any other Star Wars film - including Episode 7, 8, or 9):
"While he is super flattered because he is a huge fan, Zack is not involved in any way with the new Star Wars. He is currently in post on his two films, Man of Steel and 300: Battle of Artemisia.”
At this point, Snyder's team could simply be denying involvement - in order to prevent an unannounced project from stealing Man of Steel and the 300 sequel attention. Still, it's likely that the Vulture report (or at least elements of the report) is false. Maybe Lucasfilm is interested in a Seven Samurai-style Jedi movie and wants Snyder for the director's chair - or maybe there is no film at all. We'll just have to wait and see whether or not this is the last we hear about the project.
[Update 2: Vulture Provides More Details, Sticks To Their Guns]
Vulture responded to THR's sharing of Snyder's PR denials, offering a few more details to add authenticity to their scoop. They say "Snyder recently flew up to Marin County to meet with Lucasfilm" and highlight the need for secrecy from Snyder's camp due to his current obligations with Warner Bros.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Star Wars as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.
Star Wars Episode 7 is set for release in 2015. There is currently no release date set for Zack Snyder's Star Wars movie but we'll keep you updated as official information breaks.