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Who should direct new 'Star Wars' movie?

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Christopher Nolan
Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Breathe, Star Wars fans, breathe. Maybe lie down a minute.

Following Tuesday’s nerd-shattering announcement that the Walt Disney Company is buying Lucasfilm, and the plan includes Star Wars: Episode VII, in early development and hoping for a 2015 release, the speculative race is on for who should direct.

Should it be Christopher Nolan, who exploded open the Batman franchise?  Or Star Trek reboot master J.J. Abrams? Or Joss Whedon, riding the superhero tidal wave of this year’s The Avengers? Lucasfilm founder George Lucas, who wrote and directed the 1977 Star Wars original and the later prequels, will work as a creative consultant on Star Wars: Episode VII, so love him or hate him, he won’t be returning to helm the next film.

Here are our potential picks:

Christopher Nolan

Nolan is a genius at manipulating a genre to make it cool, darkly menacing, and new, as he did with the past three Batman films, elevating Heath Ledger’s Joker to Oscar-winning, cult status in The Dark Knight. Nolan could infuse the sci-fi fantasy franchise with grit and great character development.

Peter Jackson

Jackson is another director who has box office hit blockbuster credentials and smarts prime for a return to Star Wars. The same attention he places on knock-out special effects and pinpoint ensemble casting, as in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming Hobbit movies, he could pour into this.

Joss Whedon

Whedon, a geek fan’s dream director, is under contract by Marvel, and slated to direct the sequel to The Avengers, so it’s highly unlikely that he’d be freed up to direct. But he’s also the best kind of Star Wars director pick: someone who can balance dark, twisty humor, fluid action, and subtle character development (example: The Hulk as an approachable, sloppy guy in The Avengers, until he goes big and green). Original Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar inheriting Princess Leia’s crown? Why not?

J.J. Abrams

Producing and writing television and movies across the board, his name is all over the place — from TV’s Revolution to the latest Star Trek films. After making Star Trek movies fresh, epic, and fun again with the 2009 release and the hotly anticipated upcoming sequel, Abrams is ripe to take on another sci-fi tour-de-force. He’s saucy and smart, and adds a sleek visual shine, plus spot-on casting.

Catherine Hardwicke

It’s about time a woman with cred directs a Star Wars reboot, and Hardwicke, as director of the first mega hit Twilight movie and last year’s Red Riding Hood, is adept at mining the psychological complexities of fantasy. She could take Star Wars to new heights, and also show that male directors aren’t the only ones out there to take on fanboy favorites.

Guillermo del Toro

Mexican director Del Toro, transitioning smoothly from Spanish to English language films, has become a sought-after director when it comes to BIG, monster-filled sci-fi. His upcoming Pacific Rim, making fanboys scream at Comic-Con, shows he can make blockbusters, following from fan favorites Hellboy and the beautifully filmed, strange creature-filled world of 2006 fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth.

Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron, another Mexican director with international clout, shot some needed darkness into the Harry Potter franchise, directing 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He’s a stickler when it comes to meaty, soul baring character development, something a new Star Wars film could use to elevate it from an effects juggernaut to a deeply felt hit. He’s jumped into sci-fi already with 2006’s stunning, realistically scary Children of Men.

Who are your picks to direct the announced Star Wars Episode VII? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Disney buying Lucasfilm, prepping new ‘Star Wars’ movies for 2015 and beyond — VIDEO