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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

J.J. Abrams to return to Star Wars franchise for Episode IX

The Force is reawakening, apparently. After news of Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow’s dismissal last week, Lucasfilm said it would have details on who would replace him, and while many had hoped for a new face, it’s hardly a surprise that the company is going with a proven choice in J.J. Abrams, who will both write and direct the new film.

Abrams wouldn’t have been my first choice, though he’s unquestionably a safe bet. The Force Awakens was a big hit, and despite my quibbles—some of which you can hear about on the recent Not Playing episode that covered the show—I love the movie. But Lucasfilm has shown itself to be conservative when it comes to picking directors, and it seems to be all the more gunshy after having to recently replace the upcoming Han Solo movie’s directors, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, mid-production with veteran director Ron Howard.

As I see it, the pros of bringing Abrams back are obvious: he’s got familiarity with the franchise and the characters, he’s a name director who a lot of people have positive associations with after Episode VII, and, most importantly, he’s a known quantity. There have been reports that he clashed with Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy (in a way that Episode VIII director Rian Johnson has not), but Abrams may have come in with some extra leverage.

Abrams isn’t without his cons though. For one thing, as I said, I have some frustrations with Episode VII, mainly having to do with some storytelling conveniences and liberties taken along the way. More importantly, though, this has solidified the main Star Wars movies into an all-white-male affair, which is disappointing. Just as Episode VII—under Abrams’s hand, to be fair—brought women and people of color into the franchise’s foreground, it seemed like Episode IX would have been a good time to branch out a bit.

But as Lucasfilm is surely looking to bring the trilogy to a satisfying close that ends the franchise on a strong note and positions it well for the future, it’s no surprise that they went with the safe choice.

For more on who I, and several of my fellow Incomparable panelists, would have picked, check out our recent Episode IX director draft podcast.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]