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Why Rian Johnson is the perfect choice to build a new Star Wars empire


Disney and Lucasfilm have been so impressed with director Rian Johnson’s work on The Last Jedi that they’ve put him in charge of a whole new Star Wars trilogy.

Here’s why we’ve got total faith in ‘the chosen one’ to build a whole new Star Wars empire and create some of the greatest films in the galaxy.

He's an award-winning filmmaker

Sure, you might not always agree with who wins movie awards, whether you’re still hurting from the La La Land controversy or can’t believe Leonardo DiCaprio only has one Oscar to his name. However they're still capable of indicating quality.

Rian Johnson boasts quite a collection of nominations and accolades. Chief among them is the Outstanding Director award bestowed by the Directors Guild of America for his work on the Breaking Bad episode, 'Fifty-One'. This was touted as one of the best episodes of the popular Bryan Cranston series, while Johnson also directed fan-favourite episodes 'Fly' and 'Ozymandias'.

These episodes of Breaking Bad are among the greatest examples of Johnson’s talent as a director, and we’ve no doubt that he can apply his directorial prowess to Star Wars.

He wrote and directed modern sci-fi classic Looper

Rian Johnson isn’t just a director – he’s a writer too. He’s taken on both roles for The Last Jedi and the upcoming trilogy, which shows just how much creative control the director has over the future Star Wars films.

There’s no need to get concerned though. Johnson is very familiar with taking the dual role having directed and written previous films such as crafty high school noir Brick, oddball caper The Brothers Bloom and Looper. For the latter he was commended by many for his smartly crafted plot, a time travel story in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt's central character must assassinate the older version of himself (played by Bruce Willis).

Johnson was nominated by many for his original screenplay of Looper, most noticeably by the Writers Guild of America. Zero Dark Thirty writer Mark Boal ended up winning the award, but take nothing away from Johnson – he’s clearly a talented writer.

He loves the dark side

Being a writer isn’t the only criteria needed to helm a project like Star Wars – you need to have the right style and tone too. For instance, could you imagine Quentin Tarantino penning an episode of Dora the Explorer? Not unless you want hundreds of angry parents sending in letters of complaint.

Rian Johnson’s writing seems to frequently explore dark and violent themes albeit symbolically, rather than relying on graphic visuals. Both Looper and Breaking Bad are great examples of this. Obviously, Disney doesn’t want kids to be screaming from the sight of blood and gore, but there's no denying Johnson’s style of writing is a great way of exploring mature themes within the Star Wars universe.

Many of The Last Jedi's trailers hint at a darker tone compared to The Force Awakens, which suggests Johnson is once again embracing the dark side. His extensive involvement in the upcoming trilogy may hint that it will be shaped for an older audience – as the success of the grittier Rogue One proved last year, there's a clear appetite for such things.

He's willing to take risks

As visually stunning and nostalgia-inducing as The Force Awakens is, many would argue that director JJ Abrams played it safe and essentially remade A New Hope. If early impressions are anything to go by, though, The Last Jedi looks anything but a safe bet.

From adopting a dark tone to tearing up and rewriting the original script, Johnson has already taken a couple of gambles. But one of Johnson’s biggest gambles of all seems to be his depiction of Luke Skywalker, after Mark Hamill revealed that he initially disagreed with every choice that the director made.

Could Johnson really be about to make Luke Skywalker a villain? If so, it proves Johnson is willing to take big risks, which could mean that we’ll experience a Star Wars film like we’ve never seen before.

The inner Star Wars nerd is strong with this one

One of the most undervalued – yet important – aspects of Rian Johnson as The Last Jedi director is that he is a genuine Star Wars fan. Every time he’s interviewed, you can immediately see how enthusiastic and excited he is regarding The Last Jedi. This isn’t just a job for Johnson – this is a passion project that he has dreamed about ever since watching A New Hope.

Mark Hamill even revealed that Johnson was initially apprehensive about taking the role on since he cares so deeply for the franchise. With so much love for Star Wars, it’s safe to say Johnson will not merely view the film series as an opportunity to milk the alien cash cow. He knows how it feels to be a fan, and will be feeling the pressure to deliver a film that lives up to rocketing expectations.

Click here to book your tickets for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opening everywhere on 14th December.

Ryan Jones is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.