Late Tuesday afternoon, Disney dropped a Death Star-sized bomb. “Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX,” a joint statement from Disney and Lucasfilm read. It sounded like something we’d heard before … because we had—less than three months ago when Disney booted Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the Han Solo stand-alone film. With so much apparent turmoil racking the galaxy far, far away, we asked The Ringer’s biggest Star Wars fans to fill out an impromptu exit survey.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how concerned are you about the Star Wars franchise? Explain why.
Sean Fennessey: 3. Micromanagement is at the very heart of Star Wars lore. George Lucas's insistence on his style of storytelling and his gobbledygook dialogue codified the celebration of a new kind of nerd-king auteur; Kathleen Kennedy has taken those lessons to a higher, corporately engaged level. This is not an art project, it is a global business. Trust the process.
Andrew Gruttadaro: 1. The Force Awakens and Rogue One were victims of studio tampering, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of those movies. I’ll start being concerned about Star Wars not when the studio fires a Colin Trevorrow, but when the movies start to resemble Suicide Squad.
Chris Almeida: 3. Bad Star Wars movies are better than no Star Wars movies. Revenge of the Sith is underrated.
Amanda Dobbins: 3. I liked Michael Clayton, I didn't like Jurassic World. Kathleen Kennedy agrees!
Ben Lindbergh: 3? If anything, the news that the director of one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year won’t be responsible for completing the current trilogy makes me less concerned. Maybe the Lucas-less Lucasfilm overestimated its own willingness to let auteurs toy with its centerpiece series, but after suffering through the prequels, I’d rather the studio rein in creators too tightly than not at all.
Kate Knibbs: Maybe 2? Director shuffling didn't hurt Rogue One.
Michael Baumann: 1, for two reasons: First, once Disney bought the franchise and announced its intention to make more movies, milquetoast, formulaic blockbusters became its only destiny. It really doesn't matter who's driving. Second, Disney seems committed to hiring aggressively uninteresting filmmakers like Trevorrow and J.J. Abrams for the explicit purpose of avoiding the established rock bottom of the prequel trilogy, which I can hardly blame the studio for.
2. What Star Wars news has you the most worried?
Gruttadaro: Firing Lord and Miller—two successful, proven directors—from the Han Solo movie was probably Disney’s most questionable move. But after the shock of that decision wore off, it was pretty easy to see that it was just par for the course.
Fennessey: Lord and Miller's removal from the Han Solo project earlier this year was far more worrying than the exit of Colin Trevorrow, who has made three consecutive uninteresting films and zero otherwise. In many ways, this was long overdue. The hiring of Lord-Miller signaled a new creative step for the universe—Trevorrow inspired no one. An improvement won't be hard to come by.
Knibbs: I'm not really worried, though I am still genuinely sad about Carrie Fisher's death. RIP to the legend.
Dobbins: That Alden Ehrenreich is still, somehow, playing Han Solo:
Almeida: Mark Hamill being upset about the creative direction of the series, which I took to mean that we'll be getting Bad Luke Skywalker in Episode VIII. If we're going to get into the business of turning iconic heroes, let's start smaller, or with somebody who has already been ruined. Like, I don't know, Hal Jordan?
Baumann: That they're going to make an Obi-Wan movie. Why explore this incomprehensibly detailed universe of limitless scope when you can just rehash the same stories over and over?
Lindbergh: Historically, Star Wars has had a high correlation between cuteness and crappiness. I’m more worried about The Last Jedi overdosing on Porgs and BB-9E than I am directorial indecision.
3. How can Star Wars get back on track?
Gruttadaro: By dropping another trailer for Episode VIII RIGHT NOW.
Almeida: Add an ice dragon?
Lindbergh: Until Disney makes a bad Star Wars movie, I’m not conceding that the series isn’t on track.
Baumann: Go find new, interesting stories. The best expanded universe novels found their own characters and voice, rather than just following Luke, Leia, and Han around.
Dobbins: Release the enormously well-hyped Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December? (Fun fact: The high expectations for Rian Johnson's installment are the true biggest threat to the future of Star Wars.)
Fennessey: As a Rogue One defender, I think this is fine. Star Wars is the most profitable, most anticipated series on earth, far surpassing Marvel movies, Game of Thrones, and Taylor Swift combined. Star Wars was never off track, gossip and Supreme Leader Snoke jokes notwithstanding.
4. Related: Who should take over Episode IX?
Almeida: Ty Lue.
Fennessey: These important survey questions should be met with thoughtful and realistic responses, not fantasy booking dreams. So I'll say Danny Boyle, who has handled space epics (Sunshine) and tales of rogue actors (28 Days Later) with the kind of zippy grace and emotional depth that the final installment in a Star Wars trilogy requires.
Knibbs: Kathryn Bigelow really needs to rebound from Detroit, and if she's going to return to making well-made war movies, I'd rather have them be about a fictional galactic conflict than pro-torture U.S. propaganda.
Gruttadaro: I would be totally fine with Disney just letting Rian Johnson stay on after Episode VIII. If you want me to get creative, though—and pick an up-and-coming wild-card director who will surely be replaced down the road—I’ll say Jordan Peele. You know, the director of the most profitable movie of 2017.
Baumann: Matthew Vaughn. He can handle sci-fi/action/fantasy, as well as franchise blockbusters, and when I think of the tone and joy and humor and visual imagination I'd want from a Star Wars movie, I think of Stardust more than any other recent movie. Plus he'd probably cast Mark Strong somewhere, and I love Mark Strong.
Lindbergh: Always in motion is the Star Wars director’s chair, but it’s time to establish some continuity. In the interest of enticing future top talents who might find Lucasfilm’s lack of faith disturbing, give Rian Johnson what he wants and let him stay on for a second sequel.