There are characters whose movies we can watch over and over, even if they're all basically the same movie each time. The characters themselves are so fun to watch, who gives a shit what's going on around them? Just toss them in a scenario and let them do their thing. Boom. $500 million box office weekend.
After a while, though, even the most hardcore fans of a series can agree that a character's cinematic stories eventually grow stale. A change in the formula to keep things fresh is in order. We need to see them doing something just a little bit different, but not so different that it's not the same film series anymore.
These four iconic movie characters deserve a little bit of a genre shift for their next movies ...
#4. Indiana Jones: A Full-On War Movie
It'll Be Like ...
Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade meet Three Kings (and possibly The Monuments Men).
Even if you slept through high school history class, you know that World War II was a rather large war replete with massive battles where the fate of the world actually did hang in the balance. For half of his film series, Indiana Jones walks along the outer edges of World War II, off in tangentially connected Nazi-occupied areas doing what amounts to a video game side quest.
You have successfully completed 0.05 percent of the story! Press "A" to produce three more sequels.
So let's take the adventure and tropes of the Indiana Jones franchise and set it all in the middle of World War II, with a massive battle acting as the backdrop, like the Battle of Guadalcanal, Midway, or Stalingrad. Better idea: Set it in the Battle of Berlin and have it be the last Indiana Jones/Nazis story ever. World War II already makes the quest for the magical artifact important (who knows what the Nazis could do with its power?), so take that same set of dramatic stakes and add another: Indy is surrounded by fellow soldiers and/or innocent civilians whose lives will be directly affected by whether he succeeds in his quest. If the Nazis somehow successfully wielded the powers of the Ark of the Covenant, we would never have seen their effortless global takeover on screen. Put the quest for the Ark in the middle of a big battle, and the life of every Allied soldier in that battle is directly at stake.
There's even in-canon precedent for this kind of Indy adventure. In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we learn that once the U.S. entered World War II, Indy became an Army intelligence agent and was eventually decorated with a ton of medals. He served in the Pacific Theater. He was a double agent in Berlin. Indiana Jones was a secret agent who infiltrated the Nazis! He was the American James Bond, which is what George Lucas wanted him to be to begin with. Why can't we see some of that happen?
For three movies Indiana Jones is an abnormally badass archaeologist, and then we cut to the fourth movie and find out he was once an appropriately badass soldier. Let's see Indy do all his classic Indy things with American, British, or Russian troops at his side. Let's watch him become the badass spy/soldier/archaeologist/war hero we're told he becomes as he dodges mortar shells and helps to defend or attack a city, all while he races to find the Holy Flip-Flops of Christ before they fall into Nazi hands.
By now, Harrison Ford is a little too old to play a slightly younger Indy than when we last saw him. That's not a problem. If we can erase Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from our minds, we can easily erase a tiny age discrepancy.
#3. James Bond: A Heist Movie
It'll Be Like ...
James Bond meets Ocean's Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair.
Since the beginning, the Bond movies have always been a hair's width away from being full-on heist movies. If Bond wasn't a spy, he could be Thomas Crown from The Thomas Crown Affair -- a gentleman thief who steals nothing but the finest of life's luxuries.
This slight shakeup of the Bond series would use all of the classic Bond iconography -- his debonair attitude, Q's gadgets, befriending the villain before he finds out he's a spy, and having sex for queen and country -- and focus it all on Bond stealing something from the villain. A heist is the perfect scenario for all Bond tropes to thrive in and would require him to be a perfect hybrid of everything that makes all iterations of the character great. He would have to be the charming, suave, playful, deceptive Bond of the Connery/Moore days to work his way into the highest levels of the criminal organization, and when the mission is threatening to unravel, the brutal Daniel Craig-style Bond can be used as a quick fix. When he needs to be entirely disinterested, sprinkle on some Timothy Dalton.
"I'm going to give two charmless performances and then take a knee."
If that sounds like too simple of a mission to defeat a Bond villain, keep in mind that Casino Royale was about a guy who pokered so hard that he nearly destroyed an international terrorist organization. About 45 minutes of that movie is Texas hold 'em in a fancy Montenegro casino, which is like shot-gunning a beer at the opera ... but it's JAMES BOND shot-gunning a beer. Bond movies can be almost anything just as long as the overall spirit of the series remains intact. So let's see him rub elbows with the villain and secretly have sex with his wife while slowly gaining information on the location of the MacGuffin just before he uses Q's gadgets to become a one-man Ocean's Eleven crew in the third act.
Ocean-to-Bond Exchange Rate: Eleven Oceans equal one Bond.
Toss in some martinis and an opportunity to say his own name like he's trying to do a shitty Yoda impression and you've got a Bond movie both like and unlike any other in the series.