In the world of filmmaking, one day you are in, and the next you are out. Such has definitely been the case for Disney‘s and Lucasfilm‘s Star Wars sequels and spin-offs, which have both gone through a bit of an identity crisis these past few months. With Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm parting ways on Star Wars: Episode IX, we thought to take it upon ourselves to find a suitable replacement for the final movie in the modern trilogy. Here are nine great contenders for Episode IX.

Star Wars Celebration
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Rian Johnson

Yes, Rian Johnson is the obvious choice coming out of writing and directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm and the cast have done nothing but gush over Johnson’s work on the upcoming sequel, and fans have been just as vocal in their support of the Brick director despite not having seen nearly as much of his work on TLJ as those directly involved. He’s talented, has a strong eye, a great narrative voice, and seems to be in good standing with his bosses. It seems the only thing Rian Johnson has going against him is that no single director outside of George Lucas has helmed more than one film in the franchise.

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Governors Ball
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Michelle MacLaren

Michelle MacLaren is a name bandied about whenever anyone asks for suggestions for a female director primed to take over a major blockbuster. Primarily a television director to this point in her career, she’s led the charge on numerous episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, along with work for Westworld, The Deuce, and The Leftovers. MacLaren is more than capable of handling a flagship franchise that relies heavily on special effects, and would be a welcome first woman director for the Star Wars saga.

16th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball - Inside
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Jordan Peele

Primarily known for his comedy prowess, Jordan Peele wrote and directed one of 2016’s best films, Get Out, as a virtual unknown in the thriller genre. He’s shown an ability to handle characters under extreme duress quite well, and could bring a new perspective to the blockbuster by taking that character-driven approach to Episode IX. Plus he wasn’t afraid to bring some of his comedy chops to an otherwise serious and scary film, so he could bring that same crucial balance to Star Wars as well.

Jeff Spicer (Getty)
Jeff Spicer (Getty)

Rachel Talalay

She directed Tank Girl, so that’s good enough for us. Okay, Rachel Talalay has also been one of the most reliable Doctor Who directors in the current era, and has dabbled with the CW's various superhero series over the past few years. Like Michelle MacLaren, Talalay has spent the majority of her time on the small screen, but that shouldn't disqualify her from returning to the cinema for Star Wars. If anything, working with the BBC’s limited special effects budget should give her a leg up on knowing how to get the most out of an effects team. Plus, she’s familiar enough with the genre to have something new and exciting to say in this world.

69th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards - Feature Film Symposium
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Denis Villeneuve

Aside from Rian Johnson, Denis Villeneuve is the fan choice du jour for a Star Wars film ... should he be interested. His eye and art direction have astounded us whether working on the small scale of Prisoners and Sicario, or with greater ambition on Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. We would love it if Villeneuve was able to put his own spin on Star Wars’ visual iconography. He’s rather in-demand right now though, so it could be a hard bargain to strike. Just thinking of all the splendor and spectacle he could bring to IMAX with Disney’s coffers backing the project has us excited.

'The Bad Batch' Photocall - 73rd Venice Film Festival
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Ana Lily Amirpour

You might not think a feminist horror spaghetti western like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, or The Bad Batch’s violent cannibal tale of star-crossed loves make writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour the right choice for a Star Wars film, but you might not have considered the director of Monster for Wonder Woman either. While there’s undoubtedly a grittiness to Amirpour’s work that the more polished world of Star Wars lacks, she’s got a great idea of not just how people work, but how to show it in ways you never expected on film.

3rd AACTA International Awards - Red Carpet
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Steve McQueen

As the director of 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen showed the world he has a talent for getting outstanding performances from his casts, and his more dramatic sensibilities could bring some gravity to what is likely the conclusion of Star Wars’ current trilogy. We don’t know where the franchise will go in the wake of The Last Jedi, but giving McQueen the chance to put a period on it, and also set up the next generation of stories, sounds promising to us.

Dinner and Show - 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
Alberto E. Rodriguez (Getty)

The Wachowskis

Lilly and Lana Wachowski have done nothing but deliver outrageously creative projects their entire careers. No matter what your opinion of films like The Matrix, Speed Racer, or Jupiter Ascending, there’s no denying the eye-popping splendor of a given Wachowski production. Giving these two the chance to leave their marks on one of the world’s most iconic film franchises would be a huge treat for fans of cinematic spectacle. The only downside is then we wouldn’t get any original Wachowski projects for a few years. It still might be worth it.

"Wind River" Los Angeles Premiere presented in partnership with FIJI Water at Ace Hotel Los Angeles
Tommaso Boddi (Getty)

Taylor Sheridan

Of all the names on this list, Taylor Sheridan is probably the biggest darkhorse candidate, but we still like the idea of the Wind River writer and director venturing to that galaxy far, far away. A fairly common theme among all our choices is how deftly they handle the personal character moments in their films, and Sheridan is no different. Whether its hard-luck brothers doing what’s best for their family, or government agents tossed into the deep end of the drug war, Sheridan knows how to capture the struggles of people pushed to their limits. The heroes and villains of Star Wars might not need to be so dramatic, but giving the third film in this current trilogy some weight could go a long way in forging the strongest path for whatever comes next.

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