Why Writer Akiva Goldsman Has To Direct The ‘Divergent’ Sequel

'I Am Legend' writer on board for sequel, but will he direct?

The movie adaptation of “Divergent” won’t be out until March, but Lionsgate is clearly anticipating big things for the film, and still bigger ones for its sequel, “Insurgent.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, veteran scribe Akiva Goldsman has been tapped to work on the script for the next film in the series.

This is exciting news for a franchise that’s poised to become the next “Hunger Games,” as it’s also a dystopian drama in which a teenage girl finds herself at the center of a nascent rebellion within a fractured, mysterious, futuristic society. And just like “The Hunger Games,” the sequel to “Divergent” is in development at a moment where the future of the franchise holds much promise and little certainty. Neil Burger, who helmed the first film, has already stated that he won’t be back for the sequels, leaving the door open for a new director to step in and take the reins.

But who? There’s no shortage of talented auteurs out there who’d probably love to sink their teeth into a readymade sensation, but we’re calling it right now: our vote goes to the man with the pen.

Though Akiva Goldsman has only a handful of directorial jobs under his belt, he’s also a fellow with a very particular set of skills: one for creating imaginative, provocative, visually exciting dramas set in the futuristic landscape of existing American cities.

Case(s) in point: “I Am Legend” saw Will Smith hunting wildlife in an crumbling, overgrown Times Square, and being hunted by a horde of zombies on the Grand Central Terminal overpass. “I, Robot” had its hero (also Will Smith) running rampant through a gleaming, highly recognizable Chicago. And in “Fringe,” Goldsman had a hand in the creation of the show’s parallel-universe version of New York City, where zeppelins cruised above the island of Manhattan and a gleaming (not green) Statue of Liberty guarded the secret headquarters of the Department of Defense.

Goldsman’s talent for using city settings to enrich and inform a story would be put to excellent use in the “Divergent” series, which takes place in the ruins of what was once Chicago; a Chicago whose architecture and infrastructure figures prominently in the actual plot of the movie.

Among other things, the daredevils of the Dauntless faction enjoy traveling around the city via the Chicago “L”, which is still fully functional except for the part where the trains never actually stop. In “Insurgent,” as the action expands to cover more of the city, a director who knows how to wring drama out of landscapes and landmarks is going to be essential. We think Goldsman is the man for the job… We’ll just have to see if Lionsgate agrees.

“Divergent” hits theaters March 21. “Insurgent” is scheduled for 2015.