A few questions about the fifth Indiana Jones movie

A few questions about the fifth Indiana Jones movie March 15, 2016


The Harrison Ford nostalgia tour isn’t over yet.

Today it was announced that Ford — who returned to the Star Wars franchise in last year’s The Force Awakens and will soon start shooting the sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner — will return as Indiana Jones in a film set to be released in 2019, thirty-eight years after Ford first played the character in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.1

Even more interesting is the fact that Steven Spielberg, who directed all four of the previous Indiana Jones films, is coming back to direct the new film.

There is no word yet as to what the story will be about or who will write it.

In the past, it was always George Lucas who would come up with a mystical artifact for Indy to pursue — and Lucas would stubbornly stick to his guns until Spielberg and Ford agreed with him. (Thus, we got UFOs and crystal skulls in the fourth film.)

But since Lucas sold his company to Disney four years ago, he will presumably have no say in the new movie, the same way he had no say in The Force Awakens.

The fact that Lucas is no longer involved with the franchises he created has sometimes meant that his collaborators were now free to do things that Lucas had nixed in the past. Consider, for example, what Ford and Lawrence Kasdan wanted to do with Han Solo in Return of the Jedi, and what they finally got to do in The Force Awakens.

Do Ford and Spielberg have a similar wishlist of sorts that Lucas kept in check?

Three other questions hang over the new film, for me.

First, when will it take place? The first three films were made in the 1980s and took place in the 1930s, and the fourth film was made in 2008 and took place in 1957. The fifth film will come out after an 11-year gap — will it take place in the late 1960s or maybe even the early 1970s? What would it mean to see Indy in that setting?

Second, Indy had a wife and a son at the end of the fourth film. Will Marion still be in the picture? Presumably Henry “Mutt” Williams won’t be, given what has become of Shia Labeouf in recent years (including his falling out with Spielberg).

Finally, if Disney is behind the new film, will the franchise abandon its opening Paramount-logo gags, the same way The Force Awakens abandoned the 20th Century Fox fanfare? Or is it possible that Paramount will keep its logo in this film, the same way it kept its logo in the first few Marvel movies distributed by Disney?

As ever, we’ll just have to wait and see what the filmmakers come up with.

In the meantime, you can read an article I wrote on the Indiana Jones series for Books & Culture here, and some extra “deleted” paragraphs from that article here.

1. Yes, that means the new Indiana Jones film will come out the same year Blade Runner takes place. And because Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to come out in 2019, it looks like that will be the first year to get both a new Star Wars movie and a new Indiana Jones movie — unless you count 2008, when the animated Clone Wars movie came out a few months after Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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