Writer Michael Arndt Exits ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ — Script Left to Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams

Star Wars20th Century Fox

The biggest question mark of the cinematic horizon is Star Wars: Episode VII. With the capability and artistic intentions of J.J. Abrams already up for debate and the murky promise (or threat) of Original Trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford looming as cast list potentials, all we need now is a writer to drop out to further stir up the uncertainty about the ultimate quality of our next foray into George Lucas’ galaxy. And so it is. The Hollywood Reporter reports that screenwriter Michael Arndt is no longer involved with crafting the script for Episode VII, though no mention is made of why or how his departure came about. Filling in for Arndt on scripting duties will be director Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

On the one hand, the presence of Kasdan glimmer with the OT veneer: Empire is widely considered the strongest of the Star Wars movies, and it might be reassuring to some Lucasfilm purists to have a mind from the glory days on board. But it was that entrenchment to cling so adherently to the mythology and spirit of the originals that resulted in the Prequel Trilogy, a failure by the standards of most hoping for a revisit to the magic born in ’77. As such, a talent independent from the Star Wars universe might have been favorable.

Maybe Arndt wasn’t quite the right choice. He wrote the screenplays for greats like Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 — two excellent movies in their own right, but ones that might not showcase his ability to handle a broad, fantastical world like Star Wars. In company with a partner known for this skill, perhaps Arndt’s touch for the personal might have worked.

But we’re left, instead, with Kasdan and Abrams. The former in position solely on the bounties of “legacy” (not always the best tool to use in rebooting a franchise), and the other amid a slow slip from grace after Star Trek Into Darkness and the more defensible but still sub-par Super 8. Both movies in which he exhibited his preference to put old toys in a glass case for us to look at rather than recreating and reimagining vast, fruitful ideas. So is the decision to bring on Kasdan more of Abrams’ ploys to live through his nostalgia, or will Kasdan be able to channel his old stories in a new, inventive way?