Harrison Ford–and Harrison Ford only–can be Indiana Jones, by golly! So here’s the good news: Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford in the fedora begins filming soon.
Yet 5 actors have actually played the role of Indiana Jones. Let’s count them.
- Harrison Ford of course.
- River Phoenix also played Indiana Jones in the movies.
- Then there was the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television show, in which Indiana Jones was played by 3 more actors. That show had the young 11-year-old Indy (played by Corey Carrier).
- The television show also had “Old Indy” played by George Hall, who would pop up with folksy wisdom.
- But it was Sean Patrick Flanery that nailed the character in the television show.
See, other actors besides Harrison Ford can be Indiana Jones. But why do I bring up other actors? Well, Harrison Ford is 77-years-old and the real world aging we see in the movies will require Indiana Jones 5 to be set in the 60s. That is getting too close to the recognizable modern day to carry the pulpy archaeological fun of the franchise. Do we really want to see an 85-year-old Harrison Ford trying to pull off disco?
I realize to say this is sacrilege. Harrison Ford is my favorite actor of all time, so I’m having trouble even typing the words. It brings up emotions, which are feelings and I usually just stuff those down.
Harrison Ford is coming back for one more Indy movie. It’s OK to pump your fist. It’s OK to be skeptical after Crystal Skull. It’s OK to try and pre-order tickets. It’s OK to roll your eyes and cynically declare that Hollywood is out of ideas. It’s OK to be filled with joy and expectation. It’s OK to focus on what this means for future of a beloved franchise. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all reaction.
You have a reaction, though. We all do when it comes to Indiana Jones. There are very few franchises in cinema history that would have guaranteed a stronger reaction than this. Harrison Ford is coming back as Indiana Jones and it’s OK to pile all of the feelings and emotions onto your plate like you’re taking advantage of an all-you-can-eat salad bar at Jason’s Deli.
But I want to talk about one emotion, and that’s one of admiration, specifically admiration for the field of archeology. Indiana Jones was famous for saying that pieces of art “belong in a museum.” I hope in our clamoring for Ford to continue in the role that we haven’t relinquished the Indiana Jones franchise to a museum piece, an archive stuck in time.
Modern audiences need Indiana Jones more than ever! The world needs more movies that inspire young kids to be archeologists, scientists, and historians.
Recent advances in LiDAR are revolutionizing the field of archeology. We need young scientists and archeologists who are committed to the truth and work with 21st century technology and a discipline to do good in the field for the betterment of humankind.
I’ve said this before about the reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, but I think it needs to be reiterated here. Indiana Jones never had any super powers outside of a highly respectable PhD in history. Dr. Jones was a professor, a lover of history.
We all know that what Indiana Jones was interested in wasn’t fortune and glory; Indy was interested in seeing the world’s artifacts safe from those who wished to use them for self-serving gain. Indiana Jones is an “every man,” who like most of the rest of us hates snakes and wants to punch Nazis in the face.
As the father of two young girls, I want them to be able to enjoy movie franchises where the hero might inspire them into an interest in history and archaeology, just as Raiders of the Lost Ark inspired me as a boy.
Indiana Jones is bold, lucky, smart, daring, and worldly. I picked up as much when I was a kid. I’ve watched Indy dig for treasure, dodge traps, and fistfight Nazis. And that sparked an interest in history that has brought me to write things like this and this, all because I wanted to be like my hero, Indiana Jones.
Watching Indiana Jones can make young kids want to see the world, and it’s about the only thing I know that can make anthropology and library research feel cool. Indiana Jones movies materially affected my life, and I don’t want to deny today’s kids that same opportunity.
So I can’t wait to see Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5. But I also hope the movie sets up the franchise for the future. Harrison Ford can’t be seen as the only Indiana Jones, we need another. Sure, Harrison Ford will always be the definitive Indiana Jones like Sean Connery is still the definitive Bond, but there needs to be another.
An actor other than Harrison Ford rightfully should make us all anxious, as he’s one of Hollywood’s most beloved and recognizable actors of all time. But to turn him into an artifact should fill us with even more anxiety, as that means Indy will only hold meaning for one generation.
My oldest will be 13 when Indiana Jones 5 hits theaters. In this world of superheroes, I want her to have a hero whose powers amount to a PhD, language skills, and the ability to think quick on his feet like MacGyver.
That is why Indy is so special. As a kid I knew I couldn’t grow up to be Batman, but if I studied hard I could be an archaeologist, travel the world, and learn history.
We need heroes like Indiana Jones right now. The world is global and we need heroes that can navigate other cultures. That, along with some technological know-how (in technologies such as LiDAR), will be the defining skills of the 21st century. We need a 21st century Indy.