The 4 directors that could have directed Episode IX instead of Abrams

Rian Johnson
Obviously, Johnson was rumored to be Lucasfilm’s top choice to direct ‘Episode IX,’ and it makes a lot of sense: Johnson, like J.J. Abrams appears to be one of the few filmmakers that hasn’t been met with Kathleen Kennedy’s wrath. By all accounts, Johnson’s made some bold choices with the story and not only has she been cool with them, but incredibly supportive. It appears the Lucasfilm president and the rest of the company are very happy with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and if they weren’t, perhaps Johnson would be dusting off his resume. Johnson could easily take on the role, but it was a matter if he wants it or not. He’s suggested in the past through Twitter that he’d be totally game to take on another “Star Wars” film, but who knows who he feels after a two-year grueling production that has consumed his life.  

Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo Del Toro is about to have a very busy awards season schedule with the release of his festival favorite “The Shape of Water.” We all know Del Toro is a master of visuals, sci-fi and storytelling, which fits right into the soulful core of “Star Wars.” There’s also the fact that he is a major Star Wars fan. He even had meetings with Kathleen Kennedy and is reportedly talking with Disney to direct a Jabba the Hut spinoff movie which he said would be a gangster movie ala “TheGodfather.” He’s a master of visual effects and this would be as dreamy a partnership as any fanboy can expect in this day and age. One problem would likely be “The Shape Of Water” itself — he’s got a busy few months of promotion ahead of him and will have little to no time for all-consuming pre-production.

Jon Favreau
Director Jon Favreau impressively went from comedies like “Elf” to crowd-pleasing blockbusters with ease. The filmmaker brought a solid mix of action and humor to 2008’s “Iron Man” and more importantly kick-started Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe on the right foot. “Iron Man” was innovative and irreverent compared to the superhero movies that came before it. Favreau also gave Disney another blockbuster hit with his live-action take on “The Jungle Book” which nearly cracked $1 billion. Combining landmark visual effects with incredible story sense, Favreau proved yet again he can tackle scale with entertaining results. He’s one of the few directors that Disney can practically put their trust in, thus from this perspective, he’s likely a serious choice take over Trevorrow’s spot.

Brad Bird
Now, this might seem like an impossible choice given that “The Incredibles 2” is less than a year away from release, but there is a precedent for this assignment. Back when Lucasfilm and Disney were first putting together what would eventually become “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” they went to Brad Bird. (This makes all of those “J.J. was our first and only choice” anecdotes from Kathy Kennedy and others on the ‘Force Awakens’ Blu-ray even more hilarious and untrue.) Bird was already deep into pre-production on “Tomorrowland” but devised a situation wherein he could do both: he would shoot “Tomorrowland” and have someone else “prep” ‘Force Awakens’ for him in his absence. (This would have largely had to do with minor casting decisions and logistical organization.) When he was done shooting “Tomorrowland” he would then immediately transition to ‘Force Awakens,”‘ presumably editing both when shooting on “Star Wars” was done. His choice for this weird pre-director role? Colin Trevorrow. And it was Trevorrow’s interactions with Bird and Kennedy that got him the “Jurassic World” job, since that film’s producer, Frank Marshall, is Kennedy’s husband. (Bird would eventually have a small role as the voice of the monorail driver in that film).