Bird v. Favreau, Galactic Hollywood Smackdown
Hopefully another announcement will be posted tomorrow or sooner at starwars.com (Kennedy and Lucas did promise weekly updates). Until then, for those of us waking at all hours, hopped up with wonder over the coming decision, let's see which of these fan favorites would be left standing.
Blow-by-blow, who should helm Star Wars: Episode VII? Two worthy contenders face-off for the keys to a galaxy far, far away...
Age/Vitality: Both directors are longtime married saps (i.e. lucky bastards?) with three kids each. Both are unlikely to be totally obsessive and married to their work (which could be looked at as a strength or a weakness). However, at 46, Favreau is nine years younger, so that gives him a slight edge. There is something to be said for wisdom, and Woody Allen's still turning out decent stuff at 76. But Favreau's nearly a decade closer to the younger generation the torch is supposedly being passed to.
Desire: Favreau issued the most positive statement we've heard from any director. From Bird, only silence. Which could possibly mean he's already got the gig. But otherwise I did a little combing trying to find any of his thoughts on the Star Wars mythology, and I did find one thing (on Wookiepedia). He loves Star Wars fans. When asked if his droid reference in The Incredibles was a sneaked teaser for the upcoming prequels: "No. No, no, no," said Bird with a laugh. "I like that [the fans] think that, but it's more the term 'droid' is Lucas and we made the term 'Omnidroid,' and then got the OK [listed in The Incredibles credits] as a courtesy. So, no, there's no sneak. But God bless those fans. They're crazy." That kind of jocular attitude would be perfect for someone as under fire as this lucky director will be. But still, in the absence of any more direct statement...
Other Talents: Outside of the director's chair, Favreau's done stand-up and written hilarious parts for Vince Vaughn and others, while Bird worked a long span and helped shape The Simpsons. In terms of comic timing, we could expect stellar things from both. Bird's background in animation could also mean great things. But the most important factor, I think, is Favreau's acting work. (He's had roles of a lot more depth than sidekicks like Happy or Foggy, though we may love them.) And that first-hand knowledge means big things for getting the best performances out of his actors.
Worst Movie: Tough to say, because Ghost Protocol was shockingly boring. Shocking especially considering all the raves, and more so that I had never been bored, even for a fraction of a second, on ANY other Bird movie. Still it wasn't quite as dusty and boring as Cowboys and Aliens. Maybe even because Cowboys and Aliens had more potential.
Best Movies: Easily the toughest call! The Iron Giant and The Incredibles were flawless. Perfect balance of character, action, humor, and emotion. And to Favreau's credit, Whedon couldn't have shined like he did, without the groundwork of BOTH Iron Man movies. The first was a landmark, and a lot of the choices made in the sequel make more sense after seeing what they were building toward. Then also, I haven't come across many people who find Elf as hilarious as I do, but I notice it's added to more and more all-time best Christmas lists every year. Interesting to note that all four of these movies (unless you have a douchey lack of respect for animation) might be enjoyed equally by anyone, of any age. Ask me in an hour, and I'll have a different opinion, but right now I'm going to go by the fact that I've rewatched Favreau's stabs at perfection way more often than Bird's.
Galactic Hollywood Smackdown Winner: Favreau, 4-1
I had no favorite when I started writing. And I'd love to see either of these directors at the helm, now or in the future. And considering the laser perfect choice of scribe in Michael Arndt, I still wonder if there's another director out there that no one's seriously considered.
Who are your favorites? Any other qualities I should've considered for the Smackdown?
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