How often does a character come along that can be recognized by nothing more than their silhouette? Other than maybe Darth Vader, I would say the one man who fits the bill would be none other than Professor Henry Jones Jr., better known as Indiana Jones. He’s easily, one of the most iconic characters in all of cinema, and entertainment as a whole. With films that changed filmmaking for the better, and still influences the industry today.
But with influence, come those who would wish to use that impact to further grow their own fortune and glory. This brings us to Oct. 30, 2012, when the evil empire of Disney bought Lucasfilm, simultaneously announcing plans to continue the Indiana Jones franchise.
As Disney was distracted milking Star Wars for all it was worth, these dark and twisted plans for another adventure with Indy seemed to be forgotten. Production of this new film seemed to be cursed, as around 5 scripts had been written, director of all other 4 films Steven Spielberg, left the project, and one delayed release date after another, all lead to no progress of the project moving forward.
It looked like Indy would have his peace, but that peace was short-lived as it officially announced (for like the 20th time) that a 5th Indiana Jones was heading into production, with a new director and writer, James Mangold. An interesting choice, no doubt. This new entry is being treated as the last in the series, concluding the story that began 40 years ago… I guess.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at my hopes and worries regarding Indy’s supposed swan song.
“Collector of rare antiquities.” – The Hopes:
To start, it seems like most parties involved are excited about the project. Who wouldn’t be? Mangold has spoken about his love for the franchise, even replying to fans on Twitter, in one instance answering whether Indy’s satchel would go over or under his jacket saying simply, “Over!” When leaked photos of the set were released online back in June of 2021, he released a tweet saying, “Maybe, just maybe, I won’t let you down. I cherish old Hollywood pictures. Give me a little air to make the film. Then make your judgments, okay?”
When discussing the project in interviews, even Harrison Ford seems excited to return to his famous role. In one interview with IGN Ford stated, “…we’ll see new developments in his life, his relationship. We’ll see part of his history resolved.” He also expressed great enthusiasm when discussing the film’s script. We’ve even seen Ford joyfully take photos with fans dressed up at a filming location. If a movie can make Ford excited to work on it, maybe there’s hope.
Another element that could be good would be the action. This is a franchise that to this day, defines how to make awesome set pieces. One thing that’s interesting about 2008’s Crystal Skull, would be how small It felt. The biggest action scene in that was the Jungle Chase near the end, which is nothing compared to the modern action of something like Mission Impossible: Fallout. If they continue to keep the level of excitement and practicality that the action provided from the previous entries, it could be a good reminder to modern Hollywood that you don’t need to spend $500 million to make the action look good.
“Nazis. I hate these guys!” – The Worries:
I know I just talked about it, but, the set photos have me incredibly worried. We’ve seen Ford wearing dots on his face, implying they are going to de-age his face for a flashback sequence, of him breaking what is rumored to be Abner Ravenwood, Marion’s father, out of some sort of castle. Okay, one thing that makes Marion and Indy’s relationship so cool in Raiders, is how ambiguous and left open to interpretation their history is. We see Indy speak highly of Abner earlier in the film so when we learn that something went down between his daughter and Indy, it adds to this offscreen relationship and our engagement to what happens to Marion in the story. Showing Abner is like showing James Bond as a kid, it would add nothing.
On rumors, wow the ones for this film’s story are baaaad. Very, very bad. Apparently, they don’t even have a title yet? I legitimately can’t think of another film that didn’t have a title by the time they were filming. Oh, and it’s going to have TIME TRAVEL?!?!? Alright, now any weird and seemingly nonsensical idea like this I’m fine with, IF (and that’s a massive if) it adds to the characters and holds meaning in the story. Let’s look back at Crystal Skull’s use of kitchen appliances and aliens to help illustrate this point.
Here’s why I like the nuke town scene, and why I’m about to unironically defend it. I understand the hate towards this scene, I truly do. There are 2 things to notice about this though. First, one theory states that the reason he survived is that he is still feeling the effects of drinking from the grail, which I think is cool. The second, and one that actually makes sense, is that the fridge is lead-lined, the camera even stays on where the fridge says this while Indy’s getting in it. This means that Indy understood that being inside of something lead-lined would greatly reduce the radiation impact. So yes, even though the chances are extremely low, the best likelihood of him making it out of nuke town alive was getting inside that heavily debated refrigerator.
How this ties into the film is through the story. When getting out of the fridge, he looks at the effect of the nuke. The shots where Indy walks up the hill towards the mushroom cloud, and when Indy sees the UFO are the same, just inverted. This could be because it’s supposed to mean something along the lines of, at the time, people thought that nuclear power and warfare would be beneficial, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Where, in the film, people thought the aliens were bad, but actually just turned out to be carriers of knowledge and helped the people of the 15th century.
This brings us to the aliens. (Oh, joy.) On a pure story level, I also get the hate. Man, it is dumb that from the very first scene, and throughout the film they constantly mention aliens, and then at the end, they follow through with this idea by actually showing us the aliens. Especially since this is a franchise after all where in Raiders, they find the Ark of the Covenant, and instead of the Ten Commandments being in it when they open it ghosts pop out and then kill all the Nazis and then fly into the air. Or in Doom, when they literally rip a man’s heart out but somehow the dude stays alive, and that certain blood has the power to mind control people. Oh, and how can we forget when by Last Crusade, they find the HOLY GRAIL, thus casually proving the existence of God, meaning that within the Indiana Jones universe Christianity is the correct religion, and then they never mention this again.
When looking at it purely with how aliens tie into Indy’s character it’s actually really cool. I have talked briefly before about this element of his character, but I want to go in-depth and expand on it. My favorite part about his character development in Crystal Skull is how they add to his character by taking away. Let me explain by comparing Indy’s character here, with Luke Skywalker’s character in The Last Jedi. Let’s start with Luke, there is a reason for Luke to have hidden on an island for 30 years, but not a good enough one to change him from Return of the Jedi. I love the idea of the most hopeful person in the galaxy being brought down, but there isn’t enough reason, nor did Rian Johnson respect the character enough for this change the add to the universe. Now, let’s see how our boy Screenwriter David Koepp, changed Indy.
On the surface, he seems basically the same, but when we look deeper we find there’s much more going on. Let me ask you this, why does Indy help Mutt? Think about it, he doesn’t know this kid, he hasn’t talked to Ox in over 20 years, he doesn’t know that Mutt is his son and Marion is his mom, and he doesn’t even think Akator or the Skull even exist. When we look at the first act, we find our answer. First, the fact that Mac betrays him in the warehouse, shows how Indy can’t just rely on other people to do stuff for him anymore like we’re used to seeing. Second, he gets fired, at this point, he can’t keep finding new treasures every couple of days like he’s used to. Again when we look at the warehouse opening, Indy barely made it out of there alive, and he has nothing else. No friends, no family, him being a total tool to everyone around him is having repercussions.
They take away the idea of Indiana Jones that we’re used to seeing, and that scares Indy. The reason he goes with Mutt on this final hoorah is to try and relive the good old days, but by doing this he unknowingly walks straight into his future. The ending with Indy telling Mutt, “…their treasure wasn’t gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure.” ties within this journey. Indy discovers that his work of archeology matters, that he matters. He finds closure not in obtaining a new treasure, but in finding a family. It’s really smart. Crystal Skull has him understand his mistakes and learn from them.
My problem with Time Travel, is the same problem I have with another Indiana Jones altogether; why? Why do we need another one? What can traveling through time teach Indy, that he doesn’t already know? I guarantee the reason so many writers failed at making a good script, was because anyone who understands this professor of archeology realizes his character arc is over, and there’s nothing new to do with this story.
There are some smaller things here and there that bother me about a new adventure in this universe, but at the end of the day, I do hope it’s good. This is my favorite movie character and franchise of all time, I don’t want it to be bad or bomb at the box office. To be honest, even if it’s not on opening night, I can’t say I won’t go see it in theaters.
To me, another Indiana Jones will either be what reignites the American film industry, or leaves it in the desert, and only be worth something in 1,000 years. Basically, as much as I love the character, I hope they’re not just making it up as they go.