Indiana Jones 5 has been in production for such an inordinately long time that we sometimes wonder if it’s ever going to happen at all. That’s become something of a tradition for this movie franchise, though, as the wait for Indiana Jones 4 was just as long. Ultimately, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” wasn’t worth the wait when it arrived in 2008. Fans didn’t enjoy the use of aliens as a plot resolution, and critics generally weren’t impressed either. It’s to be hoped that the fifth movie will be a drastic improvement.
The film’s plot has been kept strictly under wraps save for the fact that it will be set in the 1960s, and even the title is yet to be confirmed. Producers suggested as recently as September 2022 that it might simply go by the title “Indiana Jones,” but more recently, we’ve seen “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” suggested on social media. We suspect we’ll find out soon enough, as the movie is scheduled to be released in June 2023. What else do we know about it? Let’s take a look.
A troubled production
George Lucas started working on the fifth Indiana Jones film as soon as production wrapped on the fourth one. We have no idea how far he got with it, but he handed it over to Kathleen Kennedy upon her appointment as the new president of Lucasfilm in 2012. When it landed on Kennedy’s desk, it wasn’t treated as a priority. The company had a new trilogy of “Star Wars” movies to make and compared to that, the Indiana Jones franchise was seen as small fry. Making new “Star Wars” films would also tie up Harrison Ford, as he was called upon to reprise his role as Han Solo in those films.
With “Star Wars” taking priority, nothing happened to the Indiana Jones franchise for another four years. There wasn’t even a script. To all intents and purposes, the project was dead. That changed when David Koepp was hired to write one in 2016, at which point Lucasfilm targeted a 2019 release. Much like Lucas before him, Koepp seemed to struggle with the concept. He departed the project two years later and was replaced by Jonathan Kasdan in 2018. Confusingly, Koepp then came back and resumed writing duties before leaving again towards the end of 2019. The version of the movie that eventually began filming in mid-2021 is written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and James Mangold.
Mangold’s name is the most important of the three men who have writing credits because he’s also the director. In that capacity, he replaces Steven Spielberg, who officially stepped down from the project. As such, this is the first Indiana Jones movie that will be neither directed by Spielberg nor written by Lucas. Spielberg is still credited as a producer, but the extent of his true involvement is unknown.
Who’s in it?
There’s no Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford, so obviously, Ford is in the lead role despite now being eighty years old. He’s already confirmed that this is the last time he’ll ever play the part, which has led some fans to speculate that the movie might conclude with the death of the beloved character. Ford will spend at least some of the film looking like a younger man, as Empire has confirmed that de-ageing technology has been used to enable the movie to present us with newly-filmed flashbacks to the 1940s. How much of the film’s running time will be spent in the past is unknown.
A major returning name from the past of the series is John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, who was last seen in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 1989. Rhys-Davies is himself now 78, so neither Ford nor Rhys-Davies will be doing the running around that the script will no doubt call for. That responsibility might fall upon British actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays Jones’ goddaughter Helena Brody. Boyd Holbrook of “The Sandman” fame has been seen riding a motorcycle in pictures leaked to social media, and Mads Mikkelsen is on board as Voller, the villain of the piece.
Together, the cast will allegedly navigate a plot involving Nazi involvement in the space race between the United States of America and Russia – although, as we said earlier, specific details of the plot are few and far between, and the Nazi storyline should be treated as speculation for now.
Does the world still want Indiana Jones?
As we’ve already established, the reception the fourth film in the series received was lukewarm at best. Another fifteen years will have passed by the time this final sequel comes out. Is there still an audience for Indiana Jones? Well, the fact that you’ve clicked on a link to an article to read about the film strongly suggests the answer to that question is “yes,” but let’s look at other factors.
Video games are a good place to start. There’s one in development with Machine Games at the moment, although the game is in the early stages of development as of the time of writing. There are also several Indiana Jones-inspired slots and games at online casinos. No official licence for any such game has ever been granted, but games with names like “Indiana Bones,” “Indiana Stones,” and “Indiana Jane” are all popular at big casino sites. Dozens of casino sister sites use “Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead” as a feature attraction, and the character of Rich Wilde is about as shameless a rip-off of Indiana Jones as any character could be. These casino games are successful, but they’re only successful because of the implied Indiana Jones connection. The brand still draws money. The movie will, too. The world still wants to interact with this legendary action-movie hero.
There will be no chance for a do-over if this film flops. The producers won’t be able to redeem themselves with another sequel. It’s all or nothing in this effort to give Indiana Jones one final hurrah, so we hope to be thrilled by what we see next June. We’ll feel a lot better – or, perhaps – worse – when we’ve seen a trailer.