With the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney didn’t just get their hands on Star Wars but Indiana Jones as well. Yet it’s been a quiet decade for the franchise. There’s been none of the expected comics or novels; nothing at all, in fact. But now a fifth film is incoming, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Disney seem to be gearing up the brand for a resurgence. They couldn’t have picked a worse time. Harrison Ford is an octogenarian and both he and John Williams have said this is the final instalment they’ll be involved with. It’s more of an ending than a beginning. Reports of a prequel series following Indiana’s mentor, Abner Ravenwood, haven’t excited me or seemingly the fandom at large. But there is a natural, engaging way to have more Indiana Jones adventures: animation.
I want to see Indiana Jones punch Nazis in the face. Whip Nazis in the face. Shoot Nazis in the face. It’s a key part of the original films, although, granted, a Thuggee cult were the villains of the best movie, Temple of Doom. But it’s the era that makes Indiana Jones what it is. That 30s vibe is a vital ingredient to the pulp adventure style and now that Ford is getting older, so is Indy. I don’t have any interest seeing Jones in the 1960s and 70s. Dial of Destiny is doing what it can to get around this, with de-aged flashbacks and a plot rumoured to be about Nazi scientists obsessed with time travel, but it can only go so far. Likewise, I don’t want anyone other than Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones in live action so recasting is out of the question. The only answer (other than the upcoming video game) that satisfies all aspects is that the franchise continues as an animated series.
The show could be the franchise’s answer to Star Wars: The Clone Wars: a beautifully animated series of almost anthological adventures set in-between the films. Indy can go on entirely new adventures, whether they be 22-minute bitesize ones, three-episode arcs, or a whole season of hunting for one artifact in the era in which the character is meant to exist. Or some episodes could tie into the films, acting as prequels and sequels. We could see Indy go up against Belloq before the events of Raiders. How did Indiana meet Short Round and what happened to both him and Willy after Temple of Doom? Let’s find out. The franchise is inspired by classic movie serials so quick episodes with cliffhanger endings would fit perfectly. Dare I say, it could be more Indiana Jones-y than the films. An animated series could be the final, true form for the franchise.
But, even animated, there’s still the elephant in the room. What about Harrison Ford? Given his age and how much he loved doing that Blade Runner voiceover, I don’t think he should voice Indiana Jones. But that’s okay. I don’t want anyone else playing Indy in live action but if it means getting the character in his prime, I’m fine with it for animation. The character can still look like Ford and a voice actor who sounds like a younger Harrison can be hired instead. Someone like Anthony Ingruber who is an accomplished voice actor, voicing The Joker in the Telltale Batman games, and he does an incredible impression of Ford, which led him to being cast as the younger version of his character in The Age of Adaline. Yet there’s always the chance the technology will be good enough that a vocally de-aged Ford could voice the character through some crazy new AI system, which I imagine is what they’ll use for the Dial of Destiny flashbacks. It’s not quite there yet, as heard from Luke Skywalker’s flat tones in The Book of Boba Fett, but it won’t be long before ILM nail it.
Given the number of sequences inspired by the Indiana Jones films found in animated Star Wars series, there seems to be real love and passion for the franchise at Lucasfilm Animation and I’m sure they’d love the chance to continue the adventures. In part, The Clone Wars was inspired by The Young Indiana Jones Adventures, George Lucas’s first foray into television, with the anthology stories not told in chronological order, so in a way producing a new Indy series would bring everything full circle. I’m astounded just looking at the quality of animation in the new season of The Bad Batch and would love to see the classic world and style of Indiana Jones translated to the medium. It would look exceptional, not to mention what Kevin Kiner would do with the music of the series, adding new themes to the remixed originals.
There is a brief history of animated takes on the franchise, with a kid’s cartoon in the 90s featuring Indy’s grandson – very much the ‘we don’t talk about this’ James Bond Jr of the canon. And then in 2016, artist Patrick Schoenmaker released his animated short celebrating the films and ever since viewing that I’ve been desperate for more. An animated series wouldn’t simply be milking the franchise dry of all creativity, I see it as the only avenue in which Indiana Jones can now truly flourish.
Would you want to see an animated Indiana Jones series? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies, and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.