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What Should Disney Do with ‘Indiana Jones?’


Clearly, Disney rules the world. As if Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney’s own original output weren’t enough, Disney owns the Indiana Jones franchise as well. After the disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, fans are very concerned over the franchise’s future.

Right now, Harrison Ford is 71, which means by the time Disney is ready to make the next Indy installment, they will have some big decisions to make about both the casting and direction of the reinvigorated franchise. Because we care about its future, here are some suggestions on what path Disney might want to follow with Indiana Jones.


Just Continue in The Same Direction

It wasn’t Ford’s age that hurt Crystal Skull, it was the gutless, pandering, meandering script. Disney can make up for this structural disaster by crafting Harrison Ford a film worthy of the new Indiana Jones. The story of an aged adventurer is a fertile story engine, and it is ground Ford is already set to cover when he straps on his blaster and becomes Han Solo once again in another Lucasfilm production, Star Wars: Episode VII. A Cold War Indy, trying to save the world from nuclear holocaust in the days following the Kennedy assassination, or Indy looking for Excalibur in England during the height of the Mod movement could be cooler than words can describe. Just go The Expendables route and add some young action stars to the aging lead. Notice how the most intense action sequences were handled by Jason Statham and Jet Li in the first Expendables? Wait a minute, Jet Li! Indiana Jones! Jet Ii as an adult Short Round! There you go. Film it, Disney! As all Indy fans know, it’s not the age, it’s the mileage, and Ford still has plenty of gas in the tank to play an even older Indy, assuming he’s given the right script.


The Next Generation

Using Indiana’s legacy as a jumping off point, could Disney create a modern generation of Joneses? The modern world is filled with perils and unsolved mysteries, and this complex modern era would benefit from the Jones family fighting for truth and seeking out the answers to ancient mysteries. Disney loves their young characters — how about Indy’s granddaughter going on adventures inspired by Granddad, perhaps continuing the family feud with a new generation of Belloqs; or how about a grandson seeking out the modern whereabouts of the Lost Ark to solidify his grandpa’s legacy? The hat and the whip can be treated like artifacts, passed down to a new family of adventurers. Please Disney, just refrain from calling this conceived film “Keeping up with the Joneses.”


Reboot the Sucker

While following a mature Harrison Ford in new adventures would be a delight, if well scripted, there would be a certain shame in having Indy leave the confines of World War II. Rebooting Indy would allow filmmakers to keep the professor and adventurer punching Nazis for a new generation. In addition, a total reboot would allow filmmakers to revisit Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom with an eye on what made those awesome films work in the first place, or they could just focus on new adventures, kind of like an Indy Begins sort of vibe. A new, fresh start for Indy could incorporate characters like Henry Jones, Marcus Brody and Shorty early in the narrative, and allow Indy room to breathe knowing that all his adventures will have an interconnected story with an eye toward new horizons.



Want to solve the aging Indy issue? The answer to that quandary could come in the form of an animated Indy adventure. Ford could still do the voice of any era of Indy adventures with no physical or financial constraints. Disney certainly has the animation resources to make this work whether it is traditional 2D animation or modern 3D fare. Hey, just give this bad boy to Pixar and watch fans’ heads explode in orgasmic glee. Animation would also allow Indy to go anywhere and do anything and not be confined by the restraints of age. I’ll say it again, Indy + Pixar = WOW!

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As stated above, Indy works best in the setting of World War II, recasting an actor the same age as Harrison Ford’s age when he made Raiders would allow filmmakers to bounce off the previous three films. It would be a hard road for any actor to attempt to step into Ford’s not rebooted shoes (just ask Brandon Routh or George Lazenby), but the rewards can be great. An actor will have to have the right script and the new film will have to hold the originals in almost a religious reverence, but films continuing storylines started in Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade will allow for some interesting story threads. What happened to Indy, Willie and Shorty after they left India? What were the ramifications of Henry Jones drinking from the Grail? Did Marion and Willie ever meet, and how much fur flew if they did? There can be some awesome story directions that play off the established films, but Disney’s casting directors will have to work overtime to pull this one off.


Harrison Ford Book Ends

How does Disney keep fans from rioting in the streets if the studio recasts Indy? By keeping him as part of the project in a Young Indiana Jones-style bookend. Ford could be part of the story in truncated role which would keep his legacy alive and allow fans to transition to a new Indy. Disney can even go beyond a simple bookend and do parallel adventures of an older and younger Indy perhaps fighting a multi-generational war with Lao Che? This story device would allow Disney to explore any era of Indy’s life, from the classic WWII adventures, to adventures in college, to Indy fighting alongside Pancho Villa as mentioned in Crystal Skull, having Ford there as the ever present narrator would allow fans to have their Indy while allowing Disney to painlessly transition into a new era. Again, some casting director would be under the gun, but with the right young actor, this could work.


Movie Serial

OK, this might be stretching things a bit, but the original concept of Indiana Jones was a tribute to the movie serials of old. Disney certainly has some major film events in the next few years, why not create a ten-chapter Indy serial to put in front of the myriad Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and Disney films that are on the way? Whether utilizing the talents of Harrison Ford or a new actor, creating ten serialized 15-minute Indiana Jones shorts would be a fitting tribute to the roots of the character. And please, can Brad Bird direct?


  • disqus_bJpR4pOn3M

    The Pancho Villa thing mentioned in KotCS is a direct reference to an episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

  • solstica

    Honestly, the best move is to wrap up the franchise with one more film and then reboot. Just like Superman.

    To be totally honest, our generation has two excellent Indiana Jones analogues. If they were to do a “next generation” for Indy, it would have to be careful not to rip off Nathan Drake of Uncharted or Lara Croft of Tomb Raider.

  • The One and Only

    Can they even do WW2 adventures with Nazis anymore ? Even if Spielberg, who said he refused to make films with Nazis portrayed in a “fun” light like the Jones flicks after Schindler’s List. With countries like France, Germany, and Austria just about forbidding any Nazi stuff, and the Mouse House wanting to make as much cash as possible. Will we be avoiding the Germans involvement whatsoever ?

  • lewis4510

    Of the above scenarios, animation is the most outside the box. And the most viable option in my opinion. Something along the lines of what was done with Tin Tin.

  • Skyrider

    Let it rest. Forget Crystal Skull ever happened. Make a spiritual successor.

  • simon austin

    I’d like to see more from the franchise, but not on film, a recast TV show could be brilliant.

  • Sketch

    Bond-ize Indy. Have Harrison Ford give us one last performance, them re-cast Indy and tell some new tales. Bond has been doing this for 50 years, why can’t Indy? :)

  • akkadiannumen

    I’d love to see Ford play Indy at least one more time but the story should reflect very clearly he’s an old man, too old in fact to be playing the same game and, even worse, by the same rules. He should get pummeled by a younger man and left bloody on the floor. Or perhaps he could fail and let someone die because he couldn’t run fast enough or his back gave out. That’s one of the reasons Kingdom failed with me. He was already too old and he’s not like Stallone who works really hard to maintain his physique.
    As a final measure, they could kill Indy and leave the sequels to his descendants. And they’d still have prequels where he could live on in the flesh of younger actors.

    Funny that you didn’t mention the Young Indiana Jones. I’d love to see a continuation of that series.
    Animation is a must for Disney. Probably for a series aimed at squarely at kids.
    In any case, there are two things Disney has to start working on right now (if they aren’t already): Get a good script. And find the new Indy. Or Indies.

  • Cjd

    Whatever they do, do not include that egotistical jerk-off who played his son in the last one (yes, I know his name; couldn’t stand him before the latest stories about his plagiarism, can’t stand him even more now).

  • TheGavGav

    I used to love Shia LaBeouf, but once he broke into Hollywood he went super crazy, super fast. Plus the plagiarism was just awful, his apology was even worse. But Even Stevens was great back when I was a teenager and Holes was a great movie (I’d say his best work).

  • joe85

    “… it was the gutless, pandering, meandering script.” Haha!! The most asinine thing I’ve heard all week. Gutless? Pandering? You’re a moron.

  • Brian

    From a marketing point of view, the serial idea just blew my mind — if Disney wants to synergize their properties without watering them down, such that folks who are fans of one property come to others (as well as coming to less-dependable products, like a DOCTOR STRANGE film or a quirkier Disney animated property), having an attached sequential piece like an INDIANA JONES serial would be a *great* way to bring folks in who might be iffy of coming to a particular film.

    Yes, the particular segments would certainly end up pirated online (and Disney might ever release them online later to catch folks up), but the big-screen element and the communal element of such a property/form would be a hard thing to miss, and so end up buoying up properties between different fanbases.

    Of course, having the serial in such pieces also makes it easier to experiment with form & location/time. Serious idea or not, I *so* want Disney to do this with Indy now! :D

  • Jonathan Harnois

    Book ends is the only way to go.

  • Tiago Andrade

    I ‘m not a fan of the recast idea, but must confess that the pictures of James Roday and Nathan Fillion in this article gave me some ideas.

  • Simiusmagnus

    I would like to propose a different option: They don’t do anything with it. They say, “Those were good movies. Maybe not the last one so much, but still.” And then they move on and come up with something new.

  • Aaron Wexler

    “This story device would allow Disney to explore any era of Indy’s life, from the classic WWII adventures, to adventures in college, to Indy fighting alongside Pancho Villa as mentioned in Crystal Skull” – Yeah, this already happened. It was called Young Indiana Jones. the Pancho Villa thing happened in the first episode.

  • budman2008

    Well, the best answer from an artistic standpoint would be nothing but who are we kidding? We all know Disney knows nothing about artistic integrity. I guess of the above options I’d take the animated option. I don’t think a Young Indiana Jones series would be very successful right now, the best time for that was when they did it the first time. Maybe some Young Indy comic books?

    I think at least in light of recent events we can rest easy with the knowledge that Shia Labeouf taking over the franchise won’t happen.

  • budman2008

    To me this is the best option (though doing some comic books or other non-movie, non-tv adaptations isn’t something I’m entirely opposed to) but let’s not kid ourselves and pretend Disney knows anything about artistic integrity.

  • budman2008

    Also, stop pretending Nathan Fillion: Movie Star is something that will happen. Yes we all loved Firefly and he’s a fun guy but he didn’t hang the damn moon. Get over it.

  • David Fullam

    Kill it, kill it all with fire!

  • Chuck777

    One of the biggest problems for Disney right now is that that are
    awash in marketable and popular properties, all vying for a shot at the
    big time. We have the two Marvel movies and the single Star Wars movie
    coming out every year from 2015 onward. Disney is also
    getting two more Pirates of the Caribbean films, as well as Pixar and
    Disney Animation films. On top of all of that Disney is going to face steep competition from the other companies that have super hero properties, as well as things like Independence Day 2, Jurassic Park, Bond, Terminator, Avatar 2 & 3, The Mummy and etc. Where can you slot in an Indiana film here?

    Honestly, I think they should just make an Indiana Jones comic. That way their intellectual rights are maintained but they do not become bogged down in a “bold new direction” that turns out to be terrible or does poorly in the face of competition.

    Having said that, I do want to see Harrison Ford crack the whip one more time. He’s getting older and that means we may be on borrowed time (say 10-15 years) before he becomes too old to do anything (or ages himself to the point where the character is living in the modern day).

    So… Honestly, I do not know what to do.

  • Chuck777

    Make a new evil organization, like HYDRA, that is made up of former Nazis.

  • Chuck777

    The problem with Fillion is that a) he is on a very successful TV show right now and b) he’s getting too old. Everyone remembers him from Firefly but that was over 11 years ago.

  • Chuck777

    He’s like Voldermort now – He who must not be named!

  • Brian from Canada

    The answer is simple: Atlantis. It’s the last of the holy grail objects (pardon the pun) and was supposed to be the core of Indy 4 until George Lucas decided he would write his own script. Set it in the mid-50s, have the info come to his via Kate Capshaw’s character (and Shortround’s in trouble) but the kid is off on some adventure, leaving Indy and a pregnant Marian to deal with it. Then end the film with what’s left of Atlantis (one piece unsunk) becoming a ride at Disney.

    Then fast forward to the 80s. Indy’s son, also an archeologist, inherits his late father’s papers upon his death and finds hints as to another great find. Flashbacks allow Ford to show up while the film uses a new younger star (someone who can act).

  • Edstone1

    You can’t replace Harrison Ford. Nope, sorry, can’t be done.

  • Guest

    Indy finds the fountain of youth and is rebooted into a younger actor.

    Or, end the series and star over, with Indy young around 1920.

  • Michael

    Make Indiana Jones 5 with Harrison Ford and end the franchise on a high note. And whatever you do, don’t add Shia to it.

  • LightningBug

    Disney knows plenty about artistic integrity! Films from Fantasia, to Lion King, to Up, to Wall-E, to Toy Story, to etc. etc. etc. are crackling with artistic integrity. Yeah they’ve paid more attention to their bottom line plenty of times too, but you can’t say that Disney hasn’t made artful film making a priority for many many decades, probably more so than any other studio. Not to mention that they’ve been great stewards of the Marvel properties. I’d like them to let Indy lie, but if they don’t, I think they’re probably the best company to try to revitalize the property without totally crapping all over it.

  • Statham

    I love how everyone acts like Crystal Skull was a franchise killer; It’s still more watchable than Temple of Doom and has a female lead who doesn’t just sit there screaming about everything.

  • Statham

    Again, I loathe the reaction to Crystal Skull. Sure, there’s some goofy stuff in there, but it doesn’t come with the awful racial sterotyping and a flat, dull, horrible female character like Temple of Doom. Crystal Skull beats Temple of Doom simply by having Karen Allen in it again.

  • Statham

    Forget Temple of Doom happened too, while we’re at it. Minecart-chase aside, that film is just nowhere near as good.

  • Statham

    So basically ODESSA?

  • Brian Bernard

    Treat it like BOND. Serialize the adventure with any actor they want, Brandon Routh is kind of inspired casting. Ford isn’t the character like Han Solo. The character can survive anyone selling it to us.

  • budman2008

    I’m not saying individuals under the company don’t have artistic integrity or that great films can’t happen under it (Pixar for the most part does both though lately they’ve started to lean towards more commercial works like their parent company namely sequels that aren’t wholly necessary) but as a corporate entity Disney is more interested in making money than art. While yes they’ve made good films with Marvel you can’t help but notices the compromises that have been made in the name of the all mighty dollar.

  • Chuck777

    Something along those lines but obviously fictional. :)

  • Tim LoBiondo

    Use the guy from the Hangover.

  • Dan Trudeau

    How about we just let it end? Not every franchise is meant to go on forever. We’re spending a lot of mental energy trying to keep something alive when we should be asking what’s next? What’s the next character/series/movie that can be to the modern world what Raiders was to us?

  • Anthony Cole

    Lion King did get at least 2 direct-to-DVD sequels in the years following its success. Maybe no one remembers them because they were awful, but Disney definitely tries to cash in on prior successes whenever they can without tarnishing their brand.

  • flascrnwrtr

    I really like the idea of serializing it in front of the major Disney action films. That would be awesome.

  • Simiusmagnus

    Yeah, I’ve never been a big fan of Temple of Doom. And I’m not saying Crystal Skull was a franchise killer. It had its moments and it was watchable but on the whole it was just sort of blah. It was “Let’s crank out another Indy movie while Ford is still arguably young enough to do it.” What I’m saying is…why does it need to be a franchise? There was the trilogy, and the trilogy is awesome. Why does there have to be more? And while Disney does make good art…this isn’t that. This is pretty much like the upcoming Star Wars movies. There doesn’t need to be more Star Wars movies, but Disney knows there’s money to be made, so we’re getting new Star Wars movies. Personally, I was hoping they were buying up these properties so they could finally release the Muppet Babies on DVD, but that’s just me.

  • bicyclebill

    The Return of Jafar.  Fantasia 2.  102 Dalmations.  Jungle Book 2.  Lion King 1½.  Cars 2.  Toy Story 3.  4 movies (and counting) in a series based on the name of an amusement park ride.  And I could go on; there are countless others.  Disney has become the world-wide headquarters of “Sequelmania”.  Any day now I expect to see news of “Son of Bambi”, “Pinocchio: My Life as a Real Boy” or perhaps even a crossover/mashup called “Peter and Alice” where Alice from Wonderland finds herself with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys in Neverland


    And no, I am not sorry for yelling.


  • Stuart Wilson

    I’m interested as to where you heard Atlantis was supposed to be the core of Indy IV. The PC game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis came out at a time when Lucas et al thought there would be no more movies. Then, in the early to mid-90s, when they first decided to have another crack at an Indy film, the result was Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. (Which was then nixed in the wake of Independence Day). The science fiction element of Indy IV was there from the first script they wrote, AFAIK.

  • SaintStryfe

    Agreed. But I can not forgive that vine swinging scene…

  • SaintStryfe

    Well the Lion King was itself a rip-off of a Japanese animation series called Kimba the White Lion..

  • SaintStryfe

    I get the rest but Toy Story 3 was fantastic, what the hell are you smoking?

    And no. I want more Indy. Indy was my hero as a child. He showed me heroes could be smart AND awesome. New generations need this.

    Give a closing scene, get a new young interesting actor to play him. NOT SHIA LABOUF.

  • Corrado Cafagna

    The road to follow IMHO is only one…A story taking place in two different periods, Thirties and Sixties. With a new actor playing young Indy and Ford (here in his farewell to the character) the aging one. I think the actor who has the right amount of coolness and skills to inherit the franchise is Bradley Cooper.

  • Thedude3445

    I love how there is absolutely no mention of Shia Labeouf on this article. Six months ago I would have said, yeah he can still do fine. But since the plagiarism deal there ain’t no way he’s getting back into something this high-profile for a long time.

  • Thedude3445

    Though Indy 4 wasn’t nearly as strong as Raiders or Crusade, if you could look past the nuke in the fridge and the swinging monkeys and annoying gags like that, the movie was pretty good, I thought. Not amazing but good enough that I would have been fine if they Indy 5 they made was going to pass on the mantle to Mr. Labeouf.

  • tommy_walker

    Nathan Fillion from 10 years ago might have been an option, but has anyone been watching “Castle” lately? He’s aged quite a bit in the past five years and gained weight. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but too old for a reboot.

  • tommy_walker

    Exactly! He’s a great guy and a superb actor, but too old for Indy.

  • tommy_walker

    Wait a damn minute. Are you saying that we’re NOT allowed to make fun of the most evil army that ever existed? Screw political correctness! One of the best things to hit cinema in my lifetime was to watch the Nazis melt at the end of Raiders.

  • budman2008

    Yeah, I agree. I think he could have been a movie star or at least had a shot if say Serenity had been a big success but it hasn’t and I think the ship has sailed. He’s sort of locked into being a TV actor and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Maxyboy

    The only way for them to go is either one last movie with Ford, or focusing not on the time frame already covered by Ford, becuase no one else could play Indi at that time basicaly doing a reboot, Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, so for me the only way is to go further back in time and focus on Indis life post 2nd world war, whilst he is in his early 20s to say his early 30s, depending of course if the first movie is a success and the same actor goes on to make several more!

  • maxyboy

    I mean focus on his life psot 1st world war.

  • TimmyK

    To me the closest any film has come to re-capturing the joys of Indiana Jones since The Last Crusade is Spielberg’s own “The Adventures of Tin-Tin” movie. As soon as I saw that movie I thought that they should do an Indiana Jones film in that same style. I’m not a huge fan of CG animation (though I do like it when it is creatively designed and well done), and I’m even less of a fan of motion capture CG animation, and I absolutely LOVE the real world sets, stunts, practical effects, and model effects of the first three Indy movies and that whole 1970’s-80’s era of film making (to me the overuse of green screen and CGI is the second biggest problem with Crystal Skull after the awful, unfocused script) but after seeing what Spielberg did with Tin-Tin I was blown away. I was prepared to hate Tin-Tin because I’m a big fan of the comics and Herge’s artwork, and I was angry that they ditched the classic Tin-Tin visual style for that boring slightly cartoony pseudo-realism of most CGI movies, but it’s such a well made and exciting movie it completely won me over. If they hired good writers (like just hiring Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish to write it) and made that same style of movie about a younger Jones set during or before WWII, then it could be amazing. I’d rather see a new series of films like that than see some recast/reboot/remake-whatever version, or another old Indy adventure. Ford was already pushing it to the limits of plausibility in Crystal Skull, and though I think he personally still pulled it off in that film I also think that by the time they get around to whatever the next movie will be he will simply be too old to be at all believable. The idea of an Indy film with old Indy on the sidelines as another younger person picks up all the slack in the action feels repulsive to me. There was already too much of that in Crystal Skull. No, I say motion capture like Tin-Tin is the only exciting route, recasting is a VERY distant second that could be good if handled absolutely perfectly but otherwise would be a massive disaster, and seeing Ford put the fedora back on again is my bottom choice. I wouldn’t even consider a “passing the torch to the next generation” movie to be an option. I’d rather we just never heard anything about Indiana Jones ever again than see some horrible Indy Jr. nonsense.

  • Michael

    Disney has no excuses to make for not capitalizing on how to utilize Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford portrayed the legendary archaeologist/adventurer for 4 movies and now, given his age, he’ll be succeeded in that role as Disney takes control of Indy. Speaking more of Indy, the animation artwork is up above and there’s no reason why Disney can’t commission it’s Lucasfilm Animation studios to produce the animated Indiana Jones series for television- it would have to be made as mainstream adventure, similar to Warner Bros.-owned Jonny Quest. Now, for the voice-over talent for Indiana Jones: The Animated Adventures, I say get Jeff Bennett in the title role of Indy, with L.A. Law’s Alan Rachins as Prof. Henry Jones Sr., Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce as Marcus Brody, Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc.’s Grey DeLisle as Marian Ravenwood, Jessie’s Cameron Boyce as Short Round and Scott Rummell as narrator. Make the animated Indy a half-hour TV series, faithful to the Indiana Jones movies and novels, without the blood and gore, anyone getting killed, Nazis being replaced by Renegades, Mercenaries and Guerillas- changes being made to comply with Disney’s Standards & Practices. Production wise- I can see both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as production consultants, Frank Marshall as exec. producer, Paul Dini and Larry Hama as the TV series’ lead writers, Greg Weisman as production director, both Carl Johnson and Steve Bernstein handling the music score as well as John Williams’ main title theme and each episode would be written as serial chapters, similar to Cartoon Network’s long-running Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Disney might very well have a goldmine concept with the Indiana Jones artwork and if it goes to TV series production, it could be a big hit.

  • Michael

    Now that Disney is firmly in control of the Indiana Jones franchise for the future, although a feature film is being developed with Harrison Ford’s eventual successor in that role, it can still turn to its Lucasfilm Animation division to prepare the TV spinoff, Indiana Jones: The Animated Adventures, with each episode being written as a serial chapter and with a narrator. Of course, Disney’s Standards and Practices Dept. would have to craft the animated TV series to eliminate some references of the feature films for the program. For instance- mercenaries would replace the Nazis, the violence would be toned down to a respectable level, no blood and gore, no one dying by any means, etc. The series would be adventure-oriented with archaeology as the program’s main episodic story emphasis. Put Indiana Jones: The Animated Adventures on Disney Channel’s Saturday morning schedule and prepare 24 episodes for the first season. For principal voice-over talent, Scott Rummell would be narrator, Jeff Bennett as Indiana Jones, Alan Rachins as Prof. Henry Jones Sr., David Hyde Pierce as Marcus Brody, Grey DeLisle as Marian Ravenwood and Cameron Boyce as Short Round. A several animated made-for-TV movies would be made, along the way. Disney is really in need of animated adventure on its TV airwaves. Now, for head writers, get Paul Dini and Larry Hama, bring in Mitch Schauer as production director, Frank Marshall as executive producer, Patrick Schoenmaker handling main title, character and background designs, Greg Weisman as line producer, Carl Johnson and Steve Bernstein handle the music scores as well as John Williams’ main title theme, Raider’s March and both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas receive screen credit in the TV show’s intro as creators of Indiana Jones. I believe an animated Indiana Jones will help keep the franchise alive, even as future feature films from Disney are being developed.