The Indiana Jones films, and I’m talking the original trilogy, are some of the most entertaining movies of all time, thrilling generations with Nazi killing and supernatural suspense. ‘Raiders’ and ‘Last Crusade’ are beloved by all and while ‘Temple of Doom’ garners a more mixed response it’s my joint favourite film (along with Alien and Star Wars) of all time; since I was little I guess I’ve been more attracted to the darker and more violent tone but that’s for another article altogether. You can’t have these incredible movies without the titular character himself and Harrison Ford was the perfect guy to play him, despite Tom Selleck and Jeff Bridges being offered the role first, but is Ford still the right guy to portray the legendary archaeologist?
Just recently Lucasfilm have revealed that Ford and Spielberg are teaming up for another Indy movie set to release in 2019 at which time Ford will be 77. Once the Disney/Lucasfilm acquisition happened there were talks about a fifth film coming and once Ford returned as Han Solo, and Deckard in the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, it became obvious Indy was going to be next and I’m really looking forward to his return. I guess now is the time to reveal I quite like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull except of course for the ‘nuke the fridge’ scene and the aliens (if anyone reading this is moaning that they are actually Inter-dimensional beings then shut up, they’re aliens!). Seeing an aged and battle weary Indiana was cool but going forward calling him aged will be nothing more than an extreme understatement. I want to see Harrison Ford back again one last time but if they want to carry on the franchise they need to recast but NOT reboot.
Part of what makes the original three Indy movies so entertaining and transcendent is the time period. When George Lucas created the character and the story for Raiders of the Lost Ark they were based on the pulp movie serials of the 1930’s and 40’s and that time period is key to the success of those films. We like seeing Indy and his cohorts take on and defeat Nazis; it’s rightfully embedded in our minds that they are evil and so they make for perfect bad guys for this type of adventure flick. Look at something like the Indiana Jones inspired video game series Uncharted in which ‘hero’ Nathan Drake kills 1829 people in the first three games and when you look at it like that he’s pretty much a cold blooded murderer of the highest degree whereas we can all get behind Indy ploughing down Nazis in the films. However if the series continues with Ford as Indy then the films will be set in the late 1960’s/ early 1970’s (Indiana Jones: The Mad Men Years) and so who will the bad guys be? Give Ford one last movie and then take the action back to the 30’s and 40’s with the films set within the time gaps of the original trilogy with Indy taking on more Nazis hunting for supernatural macguffins.
Taking the action back to the original time period will however mean recasting the iconic role but if they can do it for Han Solo then they can do it for Indy. I don’t have anyone particularly in mind; could be the popular choice of Chris Pratt who already rocked an Indy-style jacket in Jurassic World or maybe even the same person they get to be the young Han Solo (hopefully Taron Egerton or Jack Reynor). Some of the bigwigs at Disney/Lucasfilm may think it would be a better idea to reboot the franchise altogether but a continuation would work because there is enough time for movies set before ‘Temple of Doom’, between ‘Doom’ and ‘Raiders’, between ‘Raiders’ and ‘Crusade’ and then after ‘Crusade’. That’s space for at least four movies and doing it like that would mean they could place some cool Easter eggs and references for us fans of the original films.
The upcoming fifth film would be the perfect time to introduce the new Indiana Jones as well as being Ford’s Swan song. They could do a flash back similar to the one at the beginning of ‘Last Crusade’ in which the late River Phoenix portrayed a young Henry Jones Junior; the flashback in the fifth film will give us a look at the new Indy actor making the transition easier for fans and letting the general audience know the continuity of events as we lead onwards with the 30’s set sixth film in the franchise. Or maybe they could steal the proposed idea for the next Die Hard film (a franchise that seriously needs to die) in which the film takes place over two different time periods (one with Ford as 1960’s Indy and the other with [placeholder for the name of the person cast as young Indy] as the 1930’s incarnation of the archaeologist. The split in screen time would be around 50/50 giving Ford a final Indy film, without having to carry it on his own, and also giving us a greater introduction of the new Indiana as the franchise movies forwards, or backwards depending how you look at it.
What do you want from the future of the franchise? Let me know in the comments and let’s talk about Indy on Twitter @kylebrrtt. Like, Subscribe and why not have a look at all the awesome stuff on the site like the many podcasts and blogs. I’ll be back next week so come back then for some more First Time Writing.