Ending months of speculation over possible contenders—Christopher Nolan? Wes Anderson?—The Wrap reports that fanboy favorite J.J. Abrams will direct the new Star Wars movie, set to be relased in 2015. Deadline followed up with their own report, and a writer for The Hollywood Reporter said he was able to confirm the selection as well. Abrams has been in the running ever since George Lucas sold his property to Disney, though he initially said he wasn't interested. Thankfully, it appears the much-praised director has changed his mind, and decided to take on the daunting task of restoring balance to the force.
While there were other intriguing possibilities—Guillermo del Toro and Brad Bird both would have been interesting choices—Abrams may be the smartest move for Disney. Not only has he demonstrated his sci-fi chops with Lost and Super 8, he has demonstrated an ability to resuscitate fading franchises with the well-received Mission Impossible III and the critically acclaimed Star Trek reboot. Abrams will undoubtedly have the franchise's best interests at heart: Back in 2009, he said, "As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was."
On an even more surprising note, Deadline and The Wrap both report that Ben Affleck was also in the running for the job. With only three films under his belt as a director, Affleck would seem like a risky proposition, especially since he has no sci-fi experience, nor any professed love for the genre. (Argo does have a fake Star Wars knockoff within the movie, but we don't see anything beyond some storyboards and a few costumes.) With Abrams, Disney chose to stay true to the nature of the franchise while hopefully elevating it to the kind of creative level we haven't seen since the Ewoks celebrated on Endor.