The bane of my existence as a Star Wars fan and as a fan the developmental cycle of Star Wars: Episode VII has been that Micheal Arndt exited the film before the film’s final script draft. Forever, it will be debated if this was for the better or not. When fans on the internet find that one thing they will nitpick the life out of in the film, they will dream about the “glorious version Micheal Arndt scripted” that was surely “superior.”
Right now I can tell someone about anything from the film and I will get “well was that the Micheal Arndt draft or what?” Then other people will write me and say, “Luke becomes a purple woman in the new film,” and when I call them out on that, they’ll reply: “Well, it was that way in the Arndt draft!” It’s a breeding ground for tranks, Lo-bos and zipheads.
Well things basically changed back when StarWars.com announced the Master Filmmaking Team and The Hollywood Reporter wrote about Arndt’s departure. That was about one year ago, on October 24th, 2013.
Here’s the deal, we’ve talked extensively about John Boyega’s character being a Special Forces Stormtrooper and his TIE Fighter crash. I have seen two versions of this encounter.
Version 1: Art from the week of October 14th, 2013 to November 11th, 2013:
A TIE has crashed in the snow. Small one man four legged AT-ATs, which the riders ride on like horses about the size of a buffalo, ascend on the crashed TIE. The riders look like Polis Massans from Revenge of the Sith with parkas on. They have backpacks on with a tube that either allows them to breath or heats their suits, I can’t tell. The pilot has to fight for his life before being saved.
Version 2: December 2013 onward:
A TIE has crashed in the rocky desert as portrayed on set in Abu Dhabi in the Summer of 2014. Small one man four legged AT-ATs, which the riders ride on like horses about the size of a buffalo, ascend on the crashed TIE. The riders now have on metallic rice paddy hats or head wrappings.
So clearly a reorganization was announced in October of 2013. Art continued to be be conducted until new directions were given sometime after that. Around two months later, the writers probably knew where they were going to move certain sequences and the ice planet became less important to the opening of the film.
I have reason to believe “Kira” was going to begin her adventure alone during Arndt’s draft. When she finally arrived on the snow planet, she was going to meet Boyega’s character, save him, and their friendship was to begin. I suspect the characters meeting that late in the film meant the ending was less powerful as the characters haven’t known one another for very long. Kasdan and Abrams probably decided to change Boyega’s big crash and make it happen up front so the characters have been on a longer “ride” together through the universe.
All that said, the story remained the same. The setting changed, sure. Either way, A TIE crashed, raiders came for it, and “Kira” saved its pilot. It kind of shows us how concept art can be slightly different but still tell us the story. By the way, over the Summer I had multiple confirmations from Pinewood that the snow planet was still in the film. At this point I believe a laser sword battle still occurs on that planet.