Why I'm Hopeful About 'Indiana Jones 5', And What It Could Be

As Disney announced that Steven Spielberg would be returning to direct Harrison Ford in a new Indiana Jones movie, it seems like the skeptical and cynical comments took over my social media feed. Does no one want an Indiana Jones 5? Why couldn't a fifth installment of the series actually be good? I'm very hopeful about a new Indiana Jones film, and here's why.

Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull

Why You Hate the Idea of Another Indiana Jones Film

Before we get to why I'm hopeful, maybe let's examine why you are not. I think it's very easy for moviegoers to feel sour on the announcement of a new Indiana Jones movie. Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull is a film that seems to be universally mocked by film fans, so why would they want another?

In my mind, Crystal Skull is not that bad of a film. Does it live up to the legacy of the first three films? No. But its certainly not the abortion of a movie that some people claim – it even has a 78% fresh rating on the film critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Not to say the film isn't without its problems, most of which have been attributed by fans to George Lucas. The film notoriously took almost 20 years to happen because Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg were unhappy with the alien-infused MacGuffin that Lucas had invented for a fourth story.

But why is it that most film geeks are down on the idea of a new Indiana Jones movie, but embraced recent "legacyquels" like Creed, Star Trek or Star Wars: The Force Awakens? The reason is clearly Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull — fans feel burned by this last film and don't want to see the legacy of Indiana Jones hurt further. However, I'm hopeful that Indiana Jones 5 could be good, and here are some of the reasons.

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George Lucas Is Not Involved

The good news this time around is that George Lucas is not involved. From what I've heard, his deal with Disney for Indiana Jones is the same as it was for Star Wars. I've heard that you shouldn't expect Lucas to be involved in the story this time around. I'm very grateful for everything George Lucas has created, but I'm happy he will not have his fingers in this installment. And remember, this whole thing will be spearheaded by Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm. It's a very different environment this time around.

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Steven Spielberg Has Something to Prove

I also believe that Steven Spielberg feels he has something to prove with this film. It would have been easy for him to hire a successor and sit back and produce like he did with the Jurassic Park series. He literally owns a piece of this franchise, and didn't need to return to direct. And let's not underestimate Spielberg — he is a master filmmaker and storyteller. Never underestimate Spielberg.

From what I understand, Spielberg is one of those guys who reads movie blogs and delves into comments and message boards, reading what fans really think. In some ways, The Last Crusade was a response to the reaction to Temple of Doom. Sure, this is just mere speculation, but I like to think Spielberg is returning for a fifth film because he believes he has something to prove.

Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull

Is Harrison Ford Too Old?

Yes, Harrison Ford will be 77 years old when Indiana Jones 5 opens. Is that too old? Probably. But I think we can all agree that the Harrison Ford we saw in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and on television shows and conventions promoting that film, is a much different Harrison Ford from the one we saw in 2008. What changed? Was it the near-death experience of the plane crash? Star Wars director J.J. Abrams has speculated that his brush with death may have had something to do with it. Whatever the reason, Ford has had a transformation and I'm excited to see him put on the fedora and leather jacket one more time.

But I'm still not convinced that he will be the sole star of this film, more on that on the next page.

Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones

But What About a Successor?

There had been rumors that Disney wanted to cast a younger actor in the role of Indiana Jones, with names like Chris Pratt reported to top the shortlists. But producer Frank Marshall has been adamant that Harrison Ford would be reprising the role that he made famous, and that the character would not go the James Bond route. That said, I think this film has to do one of two things:

  • It could be the final chapter of the Indiana Jones saga, and tell one last conclusive adventure.
  • Or in some way it needs to introduce a successor to pass the torch onto.

Considering this is Disney, the company of franchises and brands, I would think the second option is much more likely.

The pitch that I've heard since the rumors started is that the film will feature two parallel stories, one with old Indiana Jones (played again by Ford) in the post-Crystal Skull era, and the other with his younger self (played by a new actor, like Pratt). The stories could play off of and inform each other, much like The Godfather II.

This way you could tell one last Indiana Jones story with Ford while also introducing an entirely new actor to play a young Indiana Jones for a new generation. Using a format like this could allow Disney to showcase Ford as Indy while facilitating some of the bigger action tentpole sequences (which Ford may not be able to pull off) with the younger version of the character.  Or they could even accomplish the same thing with bookends with Ford's older Indiana Jones instead if they didn't want to drastically change the format of the adventure.

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Will This Film Take Place in the 1960's?

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull took place in 1957. Indiana Jones 5 will be filmed ten years after that movie. So one would think that this film would be set in the late 1960s; however, they could potentially have Ford play the character in a time just after the fourth film if they wanted to. But for a minute let's assume that this film takes place in the mid-to late 1960s — what opportunities does that bring?

The decade is known for the rise of counterculture and hippies, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement led in part by Martin Luther King Jr., and of course the death of president John F. Kennedy. Which of these factors could come into play in this Indiana Jones sequel?

Indiana Jones Needs The Nazis

Indiana Jones Needs the Nazis

In my opinion, we need the Nazis. Think about it: the villain at the center of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade was Adolf Hitler and his army of Nazis. It's when we turned to a different villain in Temple of Doom and Crystal Skull that some of the magic was lost. But how could you do the Nazis in the 1960s when the organization fell 15 or 20 years prior? This could be accomplished through the parallel storytelling that I proposed earlier.

The story of the young Indiana Jones could be set during the Nazi era, while old Indiana Jones could be dealing with consequences related to the old adventure many years later. Some conspiracy theorists claim that Hitler didn't die until the 1960s. But I think its more likely that the supernatural MacGuffin would be used as a connection between the stories.