I don’t know your life. Maybe you couldn’t tamp down your disappointment for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull like I could while fixating on the Indiana Jonesness of the whole thing. But while the film’s odd amalgamation of killer ants, Shia LaBeouf vine-swinging, nuked kitchen appliances, super effective old man punches, interdimensional beings, and Cate Blanchett über-bangs made it hard to favor it above all others, you have to admit: Hey, they sure went for it and did some wild stuff in that movie.
Now, yes, this is the franchise that melted the faces off of treasure-seeking Nazis when they popped the top on the Ark of the Covenant and posited that a Grail Knight could live alone guarding Jesus’ cup of choice in a cave for hundreds of years while maintaining a perfectly sculpted goatee. But when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created Indiana Jones, they made sure that those things all had roots in biblical lore. Whether you are a believer or not, you have to admit that feels more tangible than 9-foot-tall crystal-skulled beings from “the space in-between spaces,” no? So, with this uptick in unbelievability (which, I’ll remind you, Lucas fought Spielberg for) firmly in place, the question pivots to a new one following Tuesday’s confirmation that there will, indeed, be a fifth Indiana Jones movie: Where do they (Spielberg, star Harrison Ford, and Disney; but not Lucas, who wasn’t mentioned in the press release) go next?
In truth, the answer is a resounding, “Hell if I know,” but I’ll tell you what they should do: Whatever the f*ck they want. Because, thanks to Crystal Skull (and George Lucas), they totally can.
As we consider the color and the shape of what that means, it’s worth examining the reality of what Spielberg has at his disposal and what he has hanging over his head.
1. A more than slightly used Harrison Ford, who will be 75 when it comes time to roll on what seems like the last leg of a tour that has seen him return to the Millennium Falcon as Han Solo, and which will see him play Rick Deckard once more in the Blade Runner sequel.
2. Shia LaBeouf in whatever state/creative mode he is in at the time of filming. Unless, of course, they re-cast the role of Mutt Williams or bury the character in a mudslide in Rarotonga. So sad.
3. Both Disney’s assumed need to launch a spin-off of some kind off of this film as to seed the fields with Indiana Jones movie crops that will yield money fruit for years to come, and Spielberg’s remarks that no one other than Ford will play Indiana Jones.
4. An army of fans who love Indiana Jones so much that they will ceaselessly mock the idea of this project on the Internet before the first “action!” is uttered, and rip the finished product to ribbons if they don’t get exactly what they want. Which happens to be a prime-age Indiana Jones adventure and to be 15 again.
Yikes, right? Maybe Spielberg should have made a second War Horse movie instead, but here we are. So, the solution is simple, give everyone everything they want and nothing that they expect.
Crystal Skull was based in 1957 and released in 2008. The 19-year jump between that film and The Last Crusade was represented on-screen, so it’s possible that this 11-year jump will also be a factor. But what does 1968 have to offer to Indiana Jones? Nothing. He was already a man out of time in the ’50s, trading greasers for hippies won’t help. Plus, no Nazis. What did Crystal Skull lack? Nazis. The solution is simple: Indiana Jones needs to go back in time to fight Nazis once more and, while we’re at it, let’s have him also kill Hitler… to death.