New ‘Star Wars’ director announced

When it was announced last October that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, fans went nuts. Only a few years prior Mickey Mouse and company had acquired Marvel Entertainment, so it felt like they were suddenly on a shopping spree consisting of our childhood memories. While Marvel and their superheroes are well known in our households, a franchise like "Star Wars" is like a religion to the majority of fans worldwide.

After the purchase, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced the first new "Star Wars" film, "Episode VII," would be released in the summer of 2015. With a project as big as "Star Wars," it was apparent they would need to find a director almost immediately to begin production, with the CGI alone taking several years to render.

Names were starting to be thrown around on fan message boards across the internet, and slowly but surely major directors let slip that they had been approached but politely declined. With a legacy such as "Star Wars," it's a lot of pressure to take the reigns and attempt to make the new movies just as good as the originals. Directors like Joss Whedon, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Zack Snyder and Brad Bird all passed on the position, and to me it feels like it's because they love the franchise so much and didn't want to be the ones to possibly tarnish it.

"I will be first in line to see the new Star Wars," Brad Bird tweeted back in November.

And then there's J.J. Abrams.

Originally going on record as meeting with the studio and declining the offer, Abrams had a change of heart only one month later after some convincing from Kennedy. The co-creator of television shows "Felicity," "Lost" and "Fringe," Abrams was well known as a producer on several movies, but was limited when it came to directing them. His directorial debut in film was with "Mission: Impossible III" and later caused quite a stir with Trekkies when he rebooted the "Star Trek" franchise back in 2009 with the sequel arriving this summer.

Is it appropriate for Abrams to simultaneously be in charge of the two biggest science-fiction franchises in the history of film? Some science-fiction fans tend to be very protective when it comes to intermingling action figures, let alone sharing franchises.

"I'm excited, but that's because immediately I didn't really realize the implications of having the same person making 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' which is kind of bizarre," said William Lindblom, junior and "Star Wars" fan. "It's kind of like the East Coast / West Coast rap thing, where the fans think they're in competition, even if the rappers don't. I don't think ["Star Wars & Star Trek"] are walking around talking bad about each other, but they are kind of like competition."

I consider myself a big "Star Wars" fan, and yet I'm cautiously optimistic, and rightfully so.

With the prequels ("Episodes I-III") leaving a bad taste in my mouth, the initial purchase of Lucasfilm came across to me as a goldmine for Disney to continuously plunder. Will Disney still allow creative stories to be told in the "Star Wars" universe or will this be another lame "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise that consistently makes money despite the lack of good storytelling?

Trekkies had a similar crisis of conscience when Paramount announced they were rebooting the "Star Trek" franchise with an all-new cast and stories. Doubt filled the minds of the most adamant fans, as they proclaimed the film a failure after seeing the first trailer. After the spectacular film debuted however, it was apparent that J. J. Abrams knew what he was doing, and created a movie that both old and new fans enjoyed.

"Abrams is great with sequences, not plot, and the best 'Star Wars' films are the ones which barely have any connective tissue," said Jordan Grout, senior and "Star Trek" fan. "And he's stated that he wants to employ more practical effects as opposed to the CGI heavy prequels."

Abrams has stated that "Star Wars" is what inspired him growing up, as it has been a monumental influence to other directors worldwide (he even had an R2-D2 unit hidden in the "Star Trek" reboot as a nice nod to the franchise). However he has not committed to the summer of 2015 release date, and insiders are saying early 2016 will be more likely. Abrams isn't known for rushing projects, since he takes his time crafting the best stories he possibly can.

With the original characters of Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford) set to be returning according to the movie treatment that was being shopped around (contracts are pending with the actors), fans are slowly but surely coming around to trusting Abrams with the franchise and seeing what direction he can take it for a new generation of fans.

"I honestly feel like [Abrams] style maybe fits 'Star Wars' more than 'Star Trek,'" said Lindblom, "so had he not been chosen for 'Star Trek' I feel like I would say he fits 'Star Wars' better, but I have faith."

It feels like the reemergence of the "Star Wars" vs. "Star Trek" battles and the real winners will be the fans come 2016.