Since Disney bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise in 2012, they’ve released two major motion pictures, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, with many more planned.
Other than the huge amount of money these first two movies made, they’re also notable for their diverse casting choices: in both movies, none of the main heroes are white men. That’s a huge deal because it proves that not only will audiences come watch a movie without a typical white, male lead, they’ll make it a box office record-breaker.
However, fans are asking for Disney to go one step further and include diversity both in front of the camera and behind it. As it stands right now, there are no women lined up to direct a Star Wars movie. When asked about this, Kathleen Kennedy, a personal hero of mine, stated that Lucasfilm is struggling to find a woman director with enough experience to take on the massive responsibility of heading a Star Wars film.
I decided to collect a few names of women directors with as much, if not more, experience than some of the directors already signed on. The following are a list of directors I’d love to see direct a Star Wars movie. Ya welcome, Kathy.
Rachel Talalay is no stranger to the sci-fi genre. She’s directed some of the best episodes of Doctor Who in the last decade. She’s also familiar with the superhero genre after directing episodes of Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash. Most recently, she directed one of the rare Sherlock episodes. Talalay has experience in feature films as well with Tank Girl (1995) and Ghost in the Machine (1993).
One of the most qualifying things about Talalay is her familiarity with the science fiction genre in all forms. Her style is very sleek and intimate. So often we lose the connection to the characters when the direction and cinematography are just that dazzling.
Talalay uses her imagery and blocking to enhance the audience’s bond with characters instead of distracting them. Between the starfighter dogfights, the heavily choreographed lightsaber battles and the Stormtrooper blaster chaos, it’s easy to get distracted. What Talalay offers could keep audiences enthralled and engaged.
If this name seems familiar to you, that’s probably because she’s currently working as director on DC’s last good shot at a quality film, Wonder Woman. And while it might be unlikely for Jenkins to turn around and work for Disney — the owners of Marvel — after working on a DC Comics film, she’s proof that there is a pool of experienced women directors out there. Jenkins has won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature in 2004 for Monster. In 2012, she won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for her drama series, The Killing.
We will have to wait until Wonder Woman releases to truly gauge her handling of a franchise film, but Jenkins is a very well-rounded director in terms of genre and tone. Obviously she has mastered both drama and thriller tones with Monster and The Killing, but she has also directed more lighthearted content, like episodes of Arrested Development and Entourage. One of the most appealing things about the Star Wars franchise is that is has a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, thriller, action, etc. Patty Jenkins knows how to navigate each of those fields.
DuVernay is most recognized for her film Selma, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and for Best Director and won the AFI Award for Movie of the Year. In the new Disney Era of Star Wars, only the directors set for Episode IX, Phillip Lord and Christopher Miller, have been nominated for a Golden Globe. None have been nominated for an Academy Award.
But wait, you say, Selma is a really serious drama and Star Wars is fun and exciting! You are correct! But Disney already took a chance on her with a tone switch. She’s currently filming A Wrinkle in Time, which will release sometime in 2018. If Disney saw her as qualified enough to kick off that franchise, the transition to a Rogue One-esque spinoff film should be easy-peasy considering she already has the Mouse Ear badge.
DuVernay has been a quickly rising star. She’s proven her ability to direct drama beyond a shadow of a doubt. Disney has already shown us that they trust to direct more whimsical and magical content with the adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. She would actually be the most qualified director signed onto Star Wars to date since the Disney Merger.
(Please note they have Colin Trevorrow directing the last episode of the numbered trilogy, who has Jurassic World under his belt and not a whole lot else.)
Lana and Lilly Wachowski
Listen, I know this may seem like a crazy entry given the Wachowski track record, but hear me out. Lana and Lily Wachowski know science fiction damn well. They’ve left their permanent mark on the entire genre with the first Matrix movie. You’d be hard pressed to find many more iconic sci-fi films, but a lot of them would be Star Wars movies.
Since The Matrix put them on the map, they haven’t done much else but different forms of sci-fi, from V for Vendetta to Cloud Atlas to Speed Racer to Sense8. These women get the universal draw to sci-fi: exploring how alien tech and lifeforms affects our core humanity, and kickass stunt scenes.
But what about The Matrix sequels and Jupiter Ascending? Those films are generally regarded as less than quality work by critics and fans. But you know what else is generally regarded as less than quality work by critics and fans? The entire Prequel Trilogy.
The Wachowski Sisters may be the most similar to George Lucas in terms of direction. Lucas created amazing worlds with incredible lore. He did his best when he had a team of people around him to help him create what we know as the Original Trilogy. For the Prequel trilogy, George Lucas was given absolute creative control and the results were questionable, even if we have some classic gems from that era, like Duel of the Fates and Obi Wan’s magnificent beard.
I think that’s what happened to the Wachowski Sisters after the success of The Matrix. And I truly believe that, given the resources and top-notch creative teams Disney lends to its precious Star Wars Franchise, the Wachowskis could construct something amazing while promoting diversity.
Among the many women directors who could do just as good a job as any of the directors currently working for Lucasfilm, these would be my top picks.
Compared to her Star Wars predecessors and the majority of major producers working right now, Kathleen Kennedy has done a lot to push Hollywood in a more progressive direction. She has to answer to the Disney executives, who have a reputation of keeping things conservative. There needs to be a large enough discussion that she, the Disney Executives, and the industry at large take a step out of their bubbles.
At the end of the day, the film industry only works according to our demands. We vote with our dollar. If a large enough demand for inclusive movies is demonstrated with this magical thing called social media, they will either adhere or risk losing a lot of money.
The film industry loves its own history and heritage. It’s up to us as consumers, specifically the demographic of consumers Hollywood caters to, to demand a more modern and diverse product.