We're talking, of course, about the company which seems almost literally unable to handle the idea of not making a sequel to any film which got seen by a paying audience of more than 3 people. Except Prince Caspian, for some reason. They've been known to pillage their archives as far back as the 1940s, going so far as to produce Bambi II in 2006 - yes, you read that right, Bambi II - a direct-to-video (and I don't doubt utterly worthless) sequel to the original film which had been around since 1942. Apparently it holds the record for the longest time gap between a film and its sequel, but the real issue is that Disney felt it had to exist at all.
There seems to be a school of thought out there which holds that Star Wars creator George Lucas himself had become something of a money-grubbing corporate fiend of late, but whether or not that is true, he at least had the decency not to bother making Episode VII. House of Mouse, of course, saw a cash cow and promptly rushed in with the largest milking bucket they could find. We don't know who's writing the new film(s), or who will be directing them, but to my nose (and those of many others, it seems) it all smells like a particularly rotten case of lucrative-release-date-first-and-shaky-plot-later. What really irks is the wording of the news piece, which suggests that Disney aren't just looking to make a new trilogy, but that Ep VII would be "followed by episodes eight and nine and then one new movie every two or three years". In other words, just keep churning them out, mindlessly and endlessly, for the rest of eternity - somewhat like how Shrek ended up.
All bleak and terrible, then? Likely, but not definite. There are, in my opinion, a small handful of directors out there (presently numbering 3, although I can't say I've thought it through too comprehensively) who I can't rule out as unavailable (Joss Whedon is too busy making Avengers 2, for example) whose hiring could turn the Third Trilogy into potentially-not-disastrous news, and whose names I shall present in alphabetic order, along with my thoughts on why they might be able to redeem the new sequel(s) from Mouse's rancid avarice...
- Brad Bird: has directed 4 feature films to date, and all of them have been critically lauded and/or massively successful. Basically all were both, except that Warner never bothered to market The Iron Giant properly, so most people have never heard of it and it didn't get the fame or the box-office numbers that it deserved. The success of Bird's films probably has a lot to do with what another writer has called "his vice-grip on storytelling mechanics" - I can't think of any way to improve on that description. Bird started in animation but proved with Mission: Impossible IV that he can do live-action as well, and right now I have no idea what Bird is doing with himself, so he might even be available to take on Star Wars VII.
- Kenneth Branagh: not remotely the obvious choice to direct a superhero movie - Thor could have been a disaster on so many levels - but somehow it all came together and worked out surprisingly well. I suspect Branagh's famously Shakespearian background could stand him in good stead to handle the philosophical and quasi-religious undertones of the galaxy far, far away.
- Gore Verbinski: proved with the first Pirates of the Caribbean, and with Rango, that he can make a very good film so long as he has a decent script before (and not after - Dead Man's Chest...) the cameras start to roll. Main strengths include his visual sensibilities (the Pirates sequels still looked fantastic, even when the plot structure was teetering dangerously) and his wit - imagine the director who crafted Jack Sparrow working with Harrison Ford to portray a much older but still smuggler-ish-at-heart Han Solo, and you should be able to see why I put Verbinski on my list.
Might come up with some more names later, but can't promise.
But for now, of course, we'll all just have to wait and see.
- The Colclough