News broke this afternoon that geek-franchise uber-producer J.J. Abrams has officially signed on to direct the next episode of Star Wars, therefore making him the official onscreen shepherd of not one, but two science-fiction mega-franchises — the equivalent of owning Coke and Pepsi, with Mission: Impossible playing the role of Dr. Pepper in this metaphor. Details are still scarce, as Disney and Lucasfilm have yet to release an official statement, but the news set our minds racing. Abrams’ participation is exciting news for many reasons. But a good Star Wars geek is also a skeptical Star Wars geek. Follow along as we track our 14-step reaction to the news about a J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars.
1. First takeaway, neither positive nor negative: This is confirmation that Disney is not going to scrimp on the Star Wars sequels. They need a reboot, and they went straight for the Reboot King. It’s a remarkably simple idea. The thinking goes: “J.J. Abrams took one decades-old franchise with the word ‘Star’ in it, rescued it from box office oblivion and fandom purgatory, and transformed it into a multi-demographic-baiting modern blockbuster hit. Why not let him do that again?” Indeed, it’s an idea so simple that pretty much everyone else on the Internet thought about it, but then dismissed it: What would Abrams do with Star Wars when he already had Star Trek? (By comparison, the rumors about Matthew Vaughn were a bit disappointing: Vaughn is a stylish director, but he’s a far more mercenary talent — you imagine him directing an off-brand Star Wars spin-off, not an epic three-part trilogy.) In a sense, this new Star Wars looks like a companion piece to The Avengers. In both cases, Disney didn’t just pick a beloved director: They picked a guy whose name is synonymous with the whole millennial rise of geekdom as a cultural force. READ FULL STORY »