Now that J.J. Abrams has reinvented, and especially, reinvigorated Star Trek for an all new generation of fake-pointy-eared fans, it would be unfair to let the filmmaker simply take time off to garden or crochet, much less celebrate the film's projected $72 million opening weekend. Especially since there are just so many other franchises and film series that deserve – or perhaps more accurately – need his golden touch. As such, we've thoughtfully assembled a short list of franchises that Abrams could and should take over, tackle, and reboot. And while we tailored our selections to suit the filmmaker's writing and directing strengths, we encourage you to leave your comments and suggestions which films and franchises you think might be better suited to Abrams' cinematic style.
In no particular order:
1. Serenity / Firefly. Since "Angel" ended in 2004, Joss Whedon has struggled to find a new idea that was both true to his idiosyncratic sensibility and commercially viable. Where his approach generally takes a big idea and makes it small and intimate –therefore connecting only with a narrow audience – Abrams' tactic is the opposite, expanding small and specific ideas to mythic, and ultimately universal proportions. With Serenity, Abrams could take the whole space-western concept and turn it into a true space opera, building either a new film or series (or both) that celebrates Whedon's original concept while giving it stronger mainstream appeal.
2. Back to the Future. Suffice it to say that no one is clamoring for a relaunch of this film series, and no one could ever replace Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, but Abrams' ability to combine science fiction with straightforward human drama makes him well-suited to helm a reboot, should Robert Zemeckis pass on doing it himself. In particular, we'd love to see Abrams take on a time-travel conceit that isn't subject to the whims of episode ratings, as has been the case with "Lost," and construct a space-time continuum where the hero actually has fun while figuring out where, and of course when in the hell he is.
3. Speed. The fact that even Sandra Bullock acknowledges how bad Speed 2 is seems to confirm that the series didn't quite develop in the way that it could. But Abrams could change all of that with a breakneck adventure that takes place in a contained environment, reunites the first film's two stars and re-molds them into middle-aged action heroes. Or, if Keanu and Sandra aren't interested, get their next-gen counterparts Paul Walker and Michelle Monaghan, throw them inside something that can't slow down and watch the moolah start rolling in.
4. Wonder Woman. The aforementioned Whedon was attached to this for a while, and an appropriate choice given his years making Buffy a postfeminist icon. But Abrams has his own pedigree creating strong female characters thanks to "Alias," and he could do wonders elevating Diana Prince from what she essentially is now – namely, the female sidekick of her male counterparts - to the first successful big-screen superheroine. Abrams writes strong, smart and sexy female characters, and if anyone can create a character that will satisfy fanboys and the females who love them, it's him.
5. True Lies. James Cameron has flirted with the possibility of making a sequel to this for years, but at this point it seems best to let him indulge his 3-D sci-fi fantasies and have Abrams come in and take it over. Looking at Mission: Impossible III, which Abrams used to humanize and reinvent spy movies by subjecting a usually-unflappable hero to limitless failure, the writer-director could really combine personal conflict with larger political and social themes in a way that is fun, funny, exciting and truly evocative.
6. Superman. While I'm actually a big fan of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, I acknowledge that the film is a little long, and has a few problems towards the end. (The biggest being the end.) Abrams has a real gift for finding the humanity in these larger-than-life characters, and maintaining their ideals while giving them new challenges and conflicts, and Superman would benefit enormously from the Abrams treatment, since like in Trek and M:I-III the world is established and the director would need only come up with a formidable physical and emotional conflict to allow the character to manifest and embody those core elements.
7. Star Wars. Regardless of the fact that an untrained chimpanzee could write and direct a better and more emotionally compelling Star Wars film than George Lucas, J.J. Abrams could not have offered a better audition reel for future installments than Star Trek. Abrams understands that to reboot a franchise you must include and understand the core elements of the canon, and yet develop them in a way that isn't purely designed for folks who are already authorities on their mythology. The human conflict was the weakest part of the prequel films, and that's precisely what Abrams excels at – finding a way to connect the larger picture (say, battling the Empire) with the smaller one (say, Leia and Han's marriage). Not to mention his work during the space sequences and the action scenes in both Trek and M:I-III demonstrate that he could manufacture some of the best battle sequences in Star Wars history, even if they would have one or two more lens flares than they probably need.