Super 8 was proof enough to me that he's got the chops to take Spielberg on at his own game (and possibly even win
at it too!
Spielberg gave us Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders, ET, Jurassic Park, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, AI. Lincoln
has 12 Oscar nominations.
He has miles to go before he's in Spielberg territory. JJ's cultish fans are legion
in this subforum, but this decision will be made by a much larger jury.
I do think there's a dividing line between Star Wars and Star Trek though. I think if I'm being honest I'd say Star Trek's star had really faded considerably by 2008, so Abrams probably had a lot of autonomy on that production (a lot of people were genuinely surprised at how well it turned out), whereas Star Wars' had never really disppeared from the radar. People may not have liked the prequel trilogy particularly, nor any of the fiddling-while-Rome-burns that Lucas did to the original films ("CGI Jabba"? Get outta here!), but I don't think Star Wars had the same kind of 'credibility problem' that Trek had prior to 2009. Lucas was able to relaunch SW any dozen number of ways and there would always be a cachet of interest in it... I'm not sure if Star Trek always had the same kind of goodwill behind it. So people were pleasantly surprised.
I think what I'm trying to say is that taking on Star Wars is a much higher pressure job than taking on Star Trek. There's more scope for failure in the Star Wars universe, especially if you're going to make a sequel that takes place after the classic original trilogy. If Star Trek had bombed, IMO, it would have flown under the radar a lot more.
If Star Wars gets screwed -- even if it's not his fault, but rather because of decisions made by TPTB above his head -- then it'd be a career killer.
I agree that he has his work cut out for him, which is why I think he should hand off Trek.
If Star Trek III is a dud, no one of any real consequence will care. If the next Star Wars film is a flop, it will be more than just fandom that responds with torches and pitchforks. Indeed, if he hands off Star Trek III and III turns out to be a dud, people will say, "Well, it's not his fault, he was busy on Star Wars."
I find it amusing that you're already making excuses; "Abrams had autonomy on Trek" and then conjecturing that the TPTB might tank his career with Star Wars by depriving him of that autonomy. Disney took a mountain of cash and said "Shut up and take my money!" He took it. Now he has to wear the pants.
JJ isn't my first choice for Star Wars, but he's in my top 5. Let's stop with the prophylactic apologia and see if he delivers the goods. I am hoping for something good - I mean I don't like the idea of a new SW film, but if you had to make one, JJ is the type of guy you want helming it, especially since Spielberg has announced that there is no way he'd ever direct one (and unlike JJ, you can believe him on this score).