What Rian Johnson Directing ‘Star Wars’ Says About Disney’s Strategy

As was reported by us a couple days back, Rian Johnson (director of such films as Brick and Looper) has been selected by Disney to take over directorial duties from Abrams on Star Wars Episode VIII, as well as the role of writer. But what does the selection of Johnson say about the future of Star Wars, its spin-off films, and the entire galaxy far, far away?

Though J.J. Abrams was never officially pegged to continue the franchise after finishing Episode VII, it does come off as a bit strange initially that they hired someone like Rian Johnson in his place, instead of having Abrams stick for the duration of the main story. After all, people like consistency by nature. Abrams is also a proven, relatively seasoned director (as opposed to Johnson, who is still largely unproven), and it did put a lot of fans at ease that a man of his pedigree was helming the franchise. And it made sense that relatively new talent would be taking over the spinoffs.

Rian Johnson could have easily filled the spots of such spinoff films, so why have him direct Episode VIII of the main series? Are they using the same strategy they are with Marvel? Not entirely, I say. Unlike what they are dealing with in Marvel, the plan for Star Wars as of now is not to bring characters from the spin-offs into the main story. All the episodes will be a part of one story, while the spinoffs will be another. As far as the main story is concerned, and as such, I don’t believe Rian Johnson will be one of many directors to bring a vision to fruition that was created by a big party. Rather I believe Johnson will become a member of that party so the vision will be greatly is own.

As noted by The Wrap, Rian Johnson will not only write and direct VIII, but provide script and story for IX. And in this writer’s humble opinion, it is only a matter of time before we hear word that Mr. Johnson is also set to direct IX.

The strategy of hiring Abrams, I believe, was used more to inspire confidence in the franchise again. They couldn’t bank on a relative unknown like Rian Johnson to bring what they needed. Coming off the successful Star Trek, and his overall great track record, Abrams was a solid choice. But someone who has so many fingers in different pots could not stick around forever.

Enter Rian Johnson, a writer-director known for his solid body of work yet minimal success. He was someone of great talent, but with no longterm commitments to keep him down. And the fact that Johnson is coming on as a writer as well is evidence that he will be more of a Whedon than Alan Taylor (who directed Thor 2). And like Joss Whedon before him, with a high profile property, and the funds to match, it may be enough to catapult both Johnson’s career, and the franchise, into greatness.

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