Josh Trank fired

‘Star Wars’ Spinoff Director Fired Because ‘Fantastic 4’ Isn’t Any Good?

The director of the second Star Wars spinoff film, Josh Trank, has officially left the Star Wars universe, and it may have not been on good terms.

On the surface, of course, everything is fine and dandy. Trank, Lucasfilm, Disney, et. al are all nodding their heads in agreement on an amicable separation. However, just below the surface, a not-so-great upcoming Fantastic 4 film may be at the heart of the split.

Star Wars Episode: The Force Awakens will be released later this year. That film is the next chronological step in the overall Star Wars saga, taking place after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, and is being directed by J.J. Abrams.

Next year, the first Star Wars spinoff film, Star Wars: Rogue One, will be released and will be directed by Gareth Edwards. Rogue One reportedly focuses on events that happened before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and its plotline will center around a group of Rebel Alliance X-Wing pilots attempting to steal the plans for the Empire’s infamous Death Star.

In 2017, the as-of-yet-untitled Star Wars Episode VIII will be released. In 2018, the second Star Wars spinoff film will be released, and that was the one Josh Trank had been tapped to direct. Lucasfilm’s plan is to release a saga-based Star Wars episode in theaters every other year, with spinoff films that don’t necessarily fit into the overall episodic arc — but that will feature familiar characters — on the off years.

Josh Trank was noticeably absent from April’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. When asked why the future Star Wars director wasn’t present, Lucasfilm execs insisted that Trank was just under the weather. Now, however, it seems that he may have been asked not to attend the Star Wars event by the Disney brass.

Director Josh Trank leaves the Star Wars universe.
Director Josh Trank leaves the Star Wars universe.

The director of the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic 4 released a statement yesterday, giving his explanation for his departure from the future Star Wars project.

“After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities….the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn’t be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans. I want to thank my friends Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, Simon Kinberg, and everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney for the amazing opportunity to have been a part of this. May the Force be with you all.”

It should be said that Trank’s letter wasn’t released by the director independently, but rather, through Lucasfilm, who certainly had a chance to see (and edit?) it before it went public.

In 2012, Josh Trank made a name for himself by directing the sci-fi drama Chronicle. He is just wrapping up editing on the new Fantastic 4 film starring Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan. One of the producers on Fantastic 4, Simon Kinberg, is also one of the producers on the second Star Wars spinoff film, and it may very well be because of Kinberg that Trank is leaving the Star Wars franchise.

According to Variety, Fox, the studio behind the Fantastic 4, and Kinberg, one of its producers and its screenwriter, are not happy with Josh Trank’s performance. As a result, at Kinberg’s request, Lucasfilm has shown him the door in the guise of friendly disagreements in artistic vision and a director’s desire to do more original work.

This doesn’t bode well for the upcoming Fantastic 4 film, which has taken some risks with the overall narrative and character origins that made the comic book so popular. Combining that with a villain, Dr. Doom, that we’ve already seen ad nauseam in other Fantastic 4 films points to yet another reason why Fox should get in bed immediately with Marvel Studios the way Sony did. Marvel understands Marvel in a way that no one else can.

No one is really sure just what the second Star Wars spinoff will center on yet. Rumors abound of a young Han Solo tale, a Boba Fett adventure, or even a film focused entirely on Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Only time will tell. As of yet, the person who will direct the second Star Wars spinoff is up in the air as well.

[Photos by Alberto E. Rodriguez and Amanda Edwards/Getty Images]