The new Indiana Jones movie continues to be crushed by the giant-sized boulder of life. Yesterday, we learned that Steven Spielberg won't be directing the fifth Indy movie, purportedly "so that the next generation of filmmakers could usher the franchise forward"-- that next-generation being a slightly younger bearded dude with glasses.
Yes, James Mangold is likely to take over the production, a director whose films have ranged from Oscar-nominated dad-bait Ford vs Ferrari, to the angsty teen manifesto Girl, Interrupted. And he made some junk about Johnny Cash and Wolverine at some point too. This news has a lot of people wondering if the movie should even be made anymore. After all, this isn't some fresh reboot, it's a sequel starring old-enough-to-belong-in-a-museum Harrison Ford. While there's an inherent magic in seeing the original act get back together, pairing Indiana Jones with a new director is like hiring Dave Grohl to front the living skeletons that are The Rolling Stones.
So maybe, like your beloved childhood pet, it's time to send Indy to that nice farm upstate, where he can roam free with Marty McFly, Dirty Harry, and those hilariously incompetent law enforcement officers from the Police Academy films. It's not a bad thing for a franchise to end, and there are a few reasons why Spielberg's departure should lead to the death of Indiana Jones.
For one, the Indiana Jones movies have always been somewhat autobiographical. Raiders of the Lost Ark was Spielberg's follow-up to 1941, the wunderkind's first big-budget bomb after a string of hits. "It was like I had committed a war crime," Spielberg said of the reception of the film. Raiders very much feels like an emotional reaction to 1941, with the theme of failure running constantly throughout the entire story. It's basically two hours of Indiana Jones fucking up over and over again.
That triumphant opening scene? It ends with Indy handing over the idol to Belloq. Indy cleverly figures out where the Ark is buried? The Nazis immediately steal it from him. Even in the end, when Indy finally seems to have the upper hand, Belloq convinces him to put down a rocket launcher and become a Nazi prisoner instead.
Indy never saves the day. He is able to survive, but only because he allows himself to be humbled. Indy learns to respect the belief system attached to one of his treasured artifacts, not merely its historical value, which is why he and Marion aren't murdered by a face-melting horde of Bible ghosts. Spielberg, too, was humbled by his experiences with 1941, and that career misstep seemingly led to a focus and respect for the medium that had perhaps been sidelined by money and power.
Next, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was by Spielberg's own admission, inspired by a bad break-up. Hence the scene where a dude's heart is literally ripped out of his chest.
Similarly, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade anticipated Spielberg's real-life reconciliation with his father just a few years later-- though Papa Spielberg was obsessed with a career in computers, not Grails and zombie Knights. And even the mostly-derided Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull leaves Indy in roughly the same position as Spielberg; he becomes a father himself and gets married to the love of his life.
And regardless of how you may feel about Crystal Skull, its final moments feel very much like an ending. We've already seen him ride into the sunset in The Last Crusade, now we get a climactic wedding. It's very conclusive. Really the only reason for Indiana Jones to return again is for Spielberg to try and end the franchise on a less crappy note. To have some other random guy attempt to wrap this story up is just weird.
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