The Story For Temple Of Doom Scared Away The Original Indiana Jones Writer

Of the original three "Indiana Jones" movies, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" is usually considered the odd one out. The first one, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," was fresh and exciting. The second movie, meanwhile, was a bit more on the traumatizing side of things. For a PG-rated film (PG-13 wasn't a thing yet), there's a lot of gore in this one, and it sometimes feels closer to a horror movie than the adventure film the first one was. 

"The story ended up being a lot darker than we intended it to be," co-creator George Lucas explained. "Part of it is that I was going through a divorce at the time and I wasn't in a good mood; and part of it was that we wanted to do something a little bit more edgy." The end result was a movie where we got to watch one guy get his heart ripped out, and then we got to listen to him scream as he was slowly lowered into lava. It's also a film where one henchman gets literally steamrolled to death, and whose final action scene involves a bunch of soldiers being eaten alive by alligators.

It was the film's edgy nature that scared away the writer who penned the screenplay for the first film, Lawrence Kasdan. "I just thought it was horrible. It's so mean," he said, explaining why he didn't return to the franchise. "There's nothing pleasant about it. I think 'Temple of Doom' represents a chaotic period in both their [Lucas and Spielberg] lives, and the movie is very ugly and mean-spirited."

Spielberg tried his best

Kasdan's objections to the story were pretty similar to the issues Steven Spielberg had with it. "I had just come off a huge success with E.T. and I was in a good mood," Spielberg said, explaining that he had no desire at the time to make a dark, quasi-horror film. He described his job with the movie as him having to "balance" the darkness of the story with "as much comedy as I could afford." 

Whether he succeeded or not is up for debate, but most fans tend to agree that "Temple of Doom" can be hard to love. Along with the horror aspects, it also had Marion from the first movie replaced with new love interest Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). I don't want to be too hard on Willie — most normal people would also scream this much if this all happened to them in real life — but the movie treats her like a punching bag and Jones himself seems to have nothing but contempt for her throughout most of the runtime. When Kasdan complained about how mean-spirited the movie was, it wouldn't be too surprising if he was talking about Willie and Jones' relationship as much as all the gore.

The main saving grace is that the movie has Short Round (Ke Huy Quan), Jones' fun child-sidekick who helps to stop the movie from feeling too intense. Whenever he's on screen, it feels like the movie remembering that yes, this is supposed to be a family movie where the kids in the audience should be having a good time. But "Temple of Doom" is still very much the harshest of the original three movies, and it's hard to blame Kasdan much for stepping away.