The other, less talked about, but equally relevant, branch of LucasFilms is Indiana Jones (my earlier tangent here). According to the latest reports, Indiana Jones 5 is still a go, with Harrison Ford starring and Steven Spielberg directing (and no Mutt!). Predictably, the Internet was a buzz with excitement and speculation and hopes for the new movie and ways to improve upon Crystal Skull. But maybe the best suggestion is no. Just no. Don’t do it. Sometimes it’s fine just to leave well enough alone.
For all of the dreams people are pinning on Indy 5, the important thing to remember is – it’s still the brain trust that gave us Crystal Skull. Mutt wasn’t the problem, it was everyone who lead to his creation, and they’re back. I’ve already expanded enough on the problems with Kennedy, but why is Spielberg directing seen as a good thing? Spielberg’s passions over the past two decades have clearly been dry, mostly adequate dramas – Munich, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, the upcoming The Papers. His more “mass friendly” films are heavily CGI affairs – Crystal Skull, TinTin, The BFG, the upcoming Ready Player One – while also being relatively unsuccessful, critically and financially.
Nothing in his recent output shows an interest or willingness to dive back into the gritty, hands dirtying adventures of classic Indiana Jones. There are plenty of other filmmakers who would be, but clearly that isn’t Spielberg. This isn’t a bad thing. We should want filmmakers to evolve and experiment. However, if they’ve gone so far past where they need to be for a certain project, there needs to be a better reason behind bringing them back than “Because they directed the others!” That’s the logic that gave us Crystal Skull. Remember, he’s still closer in spirit to Indy 4 than he is to the first trilogy. So is Kennedy. So is Ford.
Still, the director is far from the biggest issue with the film; it’s its overall existence. Again, maybe the answer is simply no. That doesn’t just mean no Indy 5, that also means no spin-offs, no reboots, no passing the torch, no de-aged Harrison Ford. Just no. The original three movies were a product of a certain time paying homage to another certain time. Any attempt to recreate the magic will just lead to more disappointment because that magic cannot be recreated; that’s just how time operates. All of our fantasy Indy 5 ideas belong to a movie that cannot be made, from reasons ranging from studio expectations to creative stagnation to our own unsatisfiable and overly critical geekery.
Even with the problems with Crystal Skull, Jones’ legacy is secure; we shouldn’t want to turn him into another Die Hard. There’s plenty of other movies and franchises to fawn over, both new and old. There’s no shame in hanging up one’s hat – both figuratively and, in this case, literally – and riding off into the sunset … like he already did in 1989.
More stuff from the original Star Wars trilogy. More Indiana Jones from the same actor, director, and executive producer who botched it the last time. Yes, movies are a business – but like with most nostalgia-fueled nonsense, it’s easy to forget that what made the originals special was the spark of creativity that was felt throughout every frame, not the surface elements that are easily replicated.
LucasFilms needs someone who understands what Star Wars could be rather than what it was. Someone who wants to recreate the childlike enthusiasm of seeing A New Hope for the first time. Someone who is willing to take risks and stand by them. For as much sway as Kathleen Kennedy holds over everyone in the process, she’s also trapping Star Wars in an increasingly smaller box, one that cheapens our memories rather than ignites our imaginations.
But does anyone of this matter? Of course not. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are fixed points in pop culture. LucasFilms actually created a day called Force Friday that is dedicated to showing off the toys they created – and adults lap it up. As much as we criticize these films, we feel compelled to see them. And again, we will lap it up. For much as we might complain about these films playing it safe, they will still be enormously successful. At least until they aren’t.