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‘Indiana Jones 5’ Delayed as Jonathan Kasdan Whips Up a New Script

Indiana Jones Crystal Skull
By  · Published on June 29th, 2018

The ‘Solo’ writer replaces ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ author David Koepp.

Veteran screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan has had the privilege of penning revered franchise films that have stood the test of time: The Empire Strikes Back, its sequel Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Stepping out of a gargantuan shadow like that would be a mean feat for his similarly creative son. However, Jonathan Kasdan definitely branched out and forged his own path upon his debut as a screenwriter and director over a decade ago. It is only now — as his career begins to mature — that he seems to be veering towards the same adventure stories that have characterized his father’s career.

Collider got the scoop that the younger Kasdan (who co-wrote the new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story with the elder Kasdan) will write Indiana Jones 5. However, with such a providential announcement also comes less favorable tidings. Variety further notes that the deal for Kasdan to come aboard is in the final stages of negotiations, but that the movie’s planned release date of July 10, 2020, cannot be met as a result of its evolving creative team. This is the second time Indiana Jones 5 has been pushed back, after having initially been announced to arrive in cinemas on July 19th of next year. So far, no replacement date is set.

Variety insists that director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford definitely want Indiana Jones 5 to see the light of day, and Disney has yet to officially remove the movie from its release calendar. Kasdan will take over scriptwriting duties from Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull scribe David Koepp. Although, as Collider notes, there is no confirmation on whether Kasdan will be doing a complete overhaul of Koepp’s work, polishing up the existing script, or writing something completely new that won’t be based on Koepp’s draft. There is also no word on whether the older Kasdan will join him in putting the screenplay together, but for now, this seems like a solo gig (hah, an unintentional pun!).

Jonathan Kasdan started out his writing career contributing to iconic teen shows of the early 2000s, namely Freaks and Geeks and Dawson’s Creek. His feature film debut came with In the Land of Women, a 2007 romantic comedy-drama that Kasdan has called “maybe too autobiographical.” While the film isn’t particularly groundbreaking, In the Land of Women manages to portray its key narrative arc with warmth and understanding even through the frustrating nature of its protagonists. The film’s proficient cast — Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, and Meg Ryan — mostly balances out the script’s pitfalls, and overall, it is perfectly commendable as a directorial debut.

Kasdan’s next big-screen effort, the 2012 Dylan O’Brien movie The First Time, is a marked improvement over In the Land of Women. With a surer hand to guide the similarly semi-autobiographical slant of the film, The First Time rings more genuine in the way it depicts both the sweetness of generic rom-com tropes that we all know and love, as well as some uncannily realistic situations that are characteristic to teendom. The film is both silly and heartfelt, and definitely as ridiculous as high school itself. The First Time is good-natured and as honest and candid as teen rom-coms get.

Clearly, Kasdan has always written screenplays from a place of experience, and this practice has served him well throughout his career. I would even say that he’s continued to strengthen his skills behind the camera with each new venture. To branch out and move directly into Star Wars territory with Solo was bound to be intimidating, despite the fact that Kasdan co-wrote the Han Solo prequel with his father. Yet he did the job with a finesse that should have gotten more attention.

Solo is a classic adventure romp featuring a ragtag, barely functional crew, and that’s because of the film’s earnestness. The movie succeeds purely due to the way that its characters and relationship dynamics supplement the movie’s big-ticket action set pieces. Han Solo and the various other players in his periphery have such an inspired camaraderie that it makes even the longest chase scenes and fight sequences enjoyable. It’s a carefree movie about a carefree (but perhaps a little haunted) character and an ideal fantasy caper.

Kasdan joining Indiana Jones 5 thus actually makes for promising development, even with the absence of a concrete release date for the film. This may be his first big sequel, but he has demonstrated an aptitude for blending excitement and heart in his movies. Kasdan’s most successful works are pretty light and airy. They just don’t ask the most confronting questions, and more often than not, they prioritize a grander vision. Luckily, they also allow for hints of character quirks and development to peek through just enough to keep their protagonists relatable, and there’s always a sense of universality in his projects.

After the emotional baggage that muddied the reception of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy fans are due for a change. The narrative arc of an elderly Indy was simply dealt with in a heavy-handed way. However, some steps have already been taken to ensure that the character will return without as many distractions. Koepp confirmed last year that Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt — Indy’s son — will not make an appearance in the fifth installment. Should Kasdan keep this particular plot point intact as he begins work on the Indiana Jones 5 screenplay, we’re likely to get a movie that finally focuses on its eponymous character good and proper again, restoring the core of the franchise.

In a post-Indiana Jones 5 world, these films will inevitably take on a new life with a new cast for a different generation. For now, Kasdan’s responsibility is just to unearth some familiarity and nostalgia for Ford’s last hurrah, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)