Almost immediately after there's any major announcement made about any major franchise these days, the instinct on the part of the Internet is to immediately jump to how The Avengers director Joss Whedon should take it on, because he'd make it awesome.
As someone who'd never really "gotten" Whedon's work before The Avengers, and who was very skeptical of Whedon directing it, I can't really relate, certainly there's a lot of that kind of talk going around again this week with the revelation that Disney means to make at least three new Star Wars movies, plus television shows and stuff, in the near future.
Leaving aside my personal feelings on it (I wouldn't hand him the keys without quite a lot of deliberation, and frankly by the time I was ready to believe he should do it, the decision would already have to have been made, lest it delay either Avengers 2 or Star Wars Episode VII or both), I talked to a handful of my favorite fans, creators and commentators to get their man-on-the-street perspective on the Disney move, and the question of whether or not Whedon should be considered.
Check them out below. We'll continue updating over the next few days as more people get back to me.
Troy Brownfield Writer of Sparkshooter and Zenescope's Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends
You can place me firmly in the camp of people that think this is a good move. Outside of the Clone Wars, fans have bitched endlessly for years about Lucas's treatment of the prequels, the special editions . . . you name it. Here, I think that Disney has a real opportunity to reinvigorate Star Wars and give us something entertaining. I can't help but think of the same grousing that followed the acquisition of Marvel; I think that's actually turned out pretty damn well.
Now, as far as director speculation, I think that there's a pretty immediate knee-jerk reaction that fans would like to see Whedon take this on. And frankly, a lot of us would. I don't know if it's a practical hope. This Episode VII is slated for the same year as Avengers 2, which Whedon needs to write and direct. It's not impossible; after all, Whedon did make Avengers and then went to shoot another film at his house. But we're talking huge, effects-heavy epics back-to-back. It's possible; look at Victor Fleming's involvement with Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, or consider Spielberg, who went right from Raiders to E.T. and Jurassic Park to Schindler's List, for example. A much more likely scenario here is that Whedon could get involved as a consultant or producer, maybe writer. Fans seem excited by the prospect of his involvement, and Disney would do well to think about it.
But if circumstance bars Whedon, then the man here, in my opinion, should be Brad Bird. Consider Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Look at what he did with Ghost Protocol. He's an enormously talented filmmaker that can balance humor, heart and action. Imagine putting him at the helm of a script that came from Whedon and the Pixar brain-trust with the full weight of the Lucasfilms effects teams behind it. Talk about a tremor in The Force. Sorry. Had to.
I'm also all for getting Lawrence Kasdan involved in a writing capacity.
Ten years ago, Whedon did his own brand of Star Wars in Firefly, so we know he knows the genre... and I'd imagine if he were given the keys to the Millennium Falcon for Star Wars series, he'd be able to get it right. He is great with writing interpersonal relationships at a time of danger, but most importantly, he seems to be a fan like us, and he is able to get into that mindset of what fans like us would want to see. I'd definitely watch that!
Kevin Conn Creator of Lava-Roid, I Hate Earth and Unemployed Skeletor
Being a fan of Whedon, my opinion may sound a bit biased, but I enjoy the "speak" of Whedon. I think he has a unique way with words and is great with characters. Sure lately I have been slightly irked at the "SHOCKING DEATH!" moments in his work, but overall the main reason behind the excitement is actually beyond Whedon.
The excitement would be the same if Brad Bird was announced as a director/writer or Edgar Wright. Whedon has the vibe of 'The talented Fanboy who made it!' The reason why Star Wars is timeless and still loved is because of the characters. I think Whedon (and the others I mentioned) get that, but unlike Lucas they can write BETTER dialogue and seem to be willing to explore and make it better and take it beyond. The possibility...THAT'S why I'm ultimately excited for this announcement.
Andrew Darling Professor of Engineering, Syracuse University
For me the idea of transitioning from George Lucas to Joss Whedon on Star Wars seems almost... tidal. The Star Wars franchise has been a force of nature, subject to the vagaries of an angry old man in the clouds, for as long as I can remember. His decisions were shocking, his plots tumultuous, and both his accolades and criticisms thunderous. At times his choices seemed like outright disdain for fans of the movies, but I don't think it was anything that callous. The man in the clouds simply didn't notice us, all the way down here. Our hurt feelings and scathing film critiques were a lightning rod for him to throw some wrath at on occasion, but nothing more.
Joss Whedon isn't a man in the clouds; he's the kid who got shoved into a locker after Social Studies. This is someone who feels not only a bond with us (as fellow geeks) but also with his characters. He gets a fair amount of flack for his tendency to exterminate popular characters, but that is largely because he respects the momentousness of losing someone close. When a popular character dies in a Whedon movie, the sea change is felt through the other characters' quiet grief and grimly set jaws over battle-torn spandex. When a...marginally liked, I guess... character dies in a recent Lucas movie, one shakes one's brand new bionic fists at the sky crying, "Noooo!" One of these directors is sharing a moment with people; the other is just telling a story to an audience.
Therefore the idea of a Joss Whedon Star Wars, in my opinion, represents a brighter vision and more certainty than we've had in some time. We don't know who the new characters will be, but we know we will care about them. We don't know what nefarious super-weapons the villains will reveal, but we know that the peril will be real and we'll be invested in the outcome. We don't know how big a check the director will receive, but we know it's not the only reason he'll show up for work. The future, always cloudy it is, but the storm is passing, and there's a new hope on the horizon.
Kevin Huxford Contributing Writer, ComicBook.com
You know what were a few of the most influential parts of the most successful sci-fi/fantasy franchise in history?
Well, at least for me, they were the snappy patter between the characters and number of characters the stories spread their focus
"Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder!" "Who's scruffy-looking?"
Fantasy movies generally had flowery dialogue to compliment the magical elements involved. Sci-fi movies seemed to have dialogue that came second to making up words that sounded futuristic and pseudo-scientific.
Star Wars? It seemed more likely to have taken its dialogue cues from spaghetti westerns or a John Wayne flick. Don't get me wrong; the dialogue was still peppered with words meant to remind you that you weren't in Kansas. But the personality and attitude thrown into the words between kept you from being overly cognizant of it and felt more "down to Earth".
As far as the cast, the film had you spreading your attention between Luke, Han, Leia, Obi-Wan, Chewbacca, C3P0 and R2D2, not to mention the legendary black hat, Darth Vader. The sequel didn't see them pare down, but expend the cast, with the additions of Yoda, Lando Boba Fett and the Emperor. Hell, they managed to keep a dead character around for good measure.
Of smaller importance to me were the feet of clay that our protagonist had. Luke was emotional...and we were well warned that the irrationality of emotion could put him on the path to the Dark Side. His emotions could, essentially, turn him evil. He often succumbed to his anger
Now...what writer/director has the sensibilities and track record with material in such a genre as to match up perfectly? Joss Whedon. With his entire body of work, he demonstrates all the abilities necessary to create a film capable of restoring a shine to the franchise and, with The Avengers, he adds to that proof that he can put together a blockbuster that manages to appeal to an audience that hasn't otherwise been a fan of his work. He has an existing relationship with Disney (via Marvel) and a passion for the property (having already posted on Facebook a direction he feels Episode VII should go).
The only way this movie should wind up being done by someone else is if Whedon opts to pass, rather than the studio not being willing to come to terms with him.