The circle is now complete: The man who restored balance to the Force in 2015 will return to conclude the trilogy. StarWars.com announced today that J.J. Abrams will direct and co-write Star Wars: Episode IX. The news that Abrams will take over follows last week’s announcement that Colin Trevorrow, the filmmaker behind Jurassic World, Safety Not Guaranteed, and The Book of Henry, had been removed as the director of Episode IX.
While Lucasfilm referred to Trevorrow’s departure as a mutual decision between studio and director, insiders have suggested that Trevorrow was “difficult” and had clashed with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. It probably also didn’t help that The Book of Henry, which came out earlier this summer, was a baffling mess that was dismembered by critics.
Abrams, who directed Star Wars’ big comeback movie The Force Awakens in 2015, is a very safe replacement for Trevorrow—and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Don’t get me wrong: Abrams did a great job with The Force Awakens, which was in many ways almost a remake of the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope. That’s perfectly appropriate for a film whose job was to reintroduce a franchise that had been largely dormant for 10 years, but fans will probably want something a little more daring for Episode IX. Trekkies have certainly learned this lesson the hard way: Abrams’ Star Trek reboot film was well-received; its sequel, not so much. Still, even a safe, unadventurous chapter might be better than a Book of Henry–style disaster.