In 2020, shortly after releasing The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm hired J.D. Dillard to develop the next big-screen installment of the Star Wars saga. That same year, he also entered negotiations to direct a new Rocketeer movie for Disney+. Getting to tackle two major franchises was a massive undertaking for Dillard, especially since both of his previous films (2016’s Sleight and 2019’s Sweetheart) were modestly-budgeted. Unfortunately, Dillard has revealed that he’s no longer attached to either project.
Dillard confirmed the news while speaking with The Wrap in support of his latest feature, Devotion. He didn’t offer any hints about what his Star Wars film would have looked like. But at the time, it was reported that he was working on the script with former Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. writer Matt Owens. Lucasfilm hasn’t shared any updates about the film in the last two years, so news of Dillard’s departure isn’t surprising. Regardless, his Star Wars fandom dates back to early childhood, when he would spend countless hours playing Star Wars: TIE Fighter for the PC.
“My dad being an aviator, we had a bunch of flight simulators,” said Dillard. “I’m playing this game for months. And my dad’s flying it with me. And I’m like, ‘Man, this game is just so cool.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, you know, this game comes from a series of movies.’ And I was like, ‘You’re kidding me.’ That is where I watched Star Wars for the first time and realized the full scope of what it meant to world build because I’d been playing this pseudo-16-bit game.”
Meanwhile, Disney’s new Rocketeer movie is still called The Return of the Rocketeer. The film was reportedly about a retired Tuskegee airman who takes on the titular mantle, with David Oyelowo producing and possible starring as the character himself. But it sounds like Dillard wasn’t crazy about helming another aviation-themed movie right after Devotion, which stars Jonathan Majors as the first Black aviator to serve in the Navy.
“I am not on that movie,” added Dillard. “But, you know, it’s tricky. I love, love, love The Rocketeer. What I have a slightly hard time wrapping my head around now is going back to pre-1970 aviation. You know, I’m not saying never. But I think I need a breather from period aviation.”
During the interview, Dillard also appeared to confirm that he was somehow involved with one of the DCEU’s long-gestating Black Superman films, which may be shelved following Henry Cavill’s return to the franchise. For now, Dillard’s upcoming slate seems to be completely open. You can see his work on Devotion when the film hits theaters on November 23.
Were you looking forward to seeing Dillard’s Star Wars and Rocketeer films? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SCAD
Recommended Reading: The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures
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