deal with Paramount Pictures, the makers and distributors of the first four Indiana Jones films, and Disney now has the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise, with the ability to make future films.
The deal works as such, Paramount will retain the rights to the first four Indiana Jones films, basically anything Indy before the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, and Disney will own anything that's done with the character from now on. A fair deal if you ask me and one that if you believe the rumors, had to occur. The word has been for a while now that Harrison Ford would not sign the deal to return as Han Solo in these new Star Wars films unless he had a guarantee of a new Indy movie in the future. Whether or not that is true, this pretty much answers the final lingering question that Lucasfilm fans have had since the Disney acquisition. Of course, I think the proper question here is if this is a good thing?
Personally, I don't think it can hurt the character of Indiana Jones anymore than many fans feel his last outing, 2008's Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, did. I know I'm in the minority, but I never disliked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While there were a good many eye-rolling moments that were a little too cheesy even for me, as a whole it was a thrilling film with enough good ideas to outweigh the bad. I personally feel that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg handled the transition from the supernatural to science fiction naturally and authentically in regards to the Fifties time period, I just wish they hadn't married Indy off. I had nothing wrong with him having a son, just don't marry one of the most notorious players in Hollywood history off. With that aside, regardless as to whether or not you liked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is going to be a fifth Indiana Jones movie starring an almost seventy-year-old Harrison Ford.
|Lucas & Spielberg on the set of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull|
I think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's greatest mistake, was that it married Indy off. They gave Indy a happy ending, and they could conceivably end his story there. Any future story taking place in the Indiana Jones chronology would then have to acknowledge Marion and Mutt, two of the more controversial inclusions of the fourth film amongst fans. Here's what I think they should do. Just wipe the slate clean. Do what you did with The Temple of Doom, go back into the past.
Ford does not look all that much different than he did six years ago when they filmed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, do a story that took place maybe a year or two before that film. Indy is always going on adventures, and Lucas and Spielberg let us know early on that these adventures aren't always going to take place in chronological fashion, given that The Temple of Doom was technically a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, taking place a full year before that film. This same approach would allow Lucas and Spielberg to get back to what made the first three films so enjoyable, the fact that each film was a standalone adventure not tied into a larger continuity.
If you rewatch the original three Indiana Jones films, in each film he had a different love interest, a different sidekick, and a different villain. These things rarely came back or returned, I know there are exceptions like Sallah and Marcus Brody, but irregardless, the love interests always were different, so having Marion Ravenwood return in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull went against the foundation that was set up with the first Indiana Jones sequel. In this fifth film, have it take place a year or two earlier.
|Harrison Ford in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull|
As was pointed out by Drew McWeeny on Hitfix, Disney would not have gone through all of this trouble to get the rights to the Indiana Jones character unless they had plans for multiple films featuring him. Conceivably, Harrison Ford can only hold out to do one more film as Indy, therefore what does that mean for all of those other films? Drew said it might mean reboot, and I hate to say that he is probably right. Of course, is recasting the actor rebooting the series? If they remade Raiders with a new actor, then I think that would be a reboot, but James Bond has been recast multiple times and we don't call the transition from Connery to Moore a Bond reboot, so why should a transition from Ford to someone else be seen as any different?
Honestly, I've always thought that the character of Indiana Jones had the potential to be like a James Bond, with a new film every few years and the hat being passed off to a new actor every decade or so to keep the character alive. Originally that was the intent of Lucas and Spielberg, but rather than keeping the films going, they let them stall out. If the recasting way was to work, it should have been done in the early Nineties after The Last Crusade, as it is, we've gotten to a point where Harrison Ford has become so revered as the character, anyone else playing an Indiana Jones in his prime would be so ridiculed it wouldn't even be funny. Still, if Disney is looking to make more Indiana Jones films post-Harrison Ford, then they need to do the only thing I think they can do, return to the idea of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
|River Phoenix as Young Indy in The Last Crusade|
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was one of the best TV shows of all-time, showing different adventures from Indy's formative years, traveling the world and going on adventures with his father. Doing a Young Indiana Jones movie, I think, is the best way to go following Harrison Ford's retirement from the character. There have already been three different actors that have portrayed a younger Indiana Jones, none of which are as iconically revered as Ford, therefore recasting the part wouldn't be seen as badly. Not to mention that this reopens the Indy playbook.
Indy would be young again, younger than ever actually. He could still be a little wet behind the ears, a little brash, a little bit of a player, and could be a daring man of action, once more. Of course, I would not want this to be a set of origin films either, showing us how certain things later in his life came to be. Let these films be standalone adventures, and here's where I think these movies should start. I think the TV show pretty well chronicled Indy's childhood and teenage years, so why not show us an early-twenties Indy in college going on an adventure with his professor for his first outing, or perhaps even his first solo adventure without his dad or a professor. Not only could casting a young, charismatic actor in the part help draw in a new, younger audience to these movies, it could also allow Disney the chance to grow this Indy up onscreen. Think about it, if this actor is well cast and sticks with it, or even if they recast Indy every few films or so, it would accustom the audience to seeing a different face as Indy, so by the time whatever actor is still portraying Indy is in his thirties, we could actually see a return to Nazis and World War II-era adventures, giving fans what they really want.
At this juncture, all of this is just me hypothesizing and lobbying for what I want to see. Personally, I'd love to get my Independent film I'm working on made, so that I can become enough of a Hollywood player to where I could potentially pitch my idea for how to do Indy post-Ford. Maybe even cast the new actor, write the film, and direct it. Hey, an Indy fan can dream, can't he?