Photo: ‘Indiana Jones’ Series
Some forget that Lucasfilm is home to another iconic Harrison Ford character not from a galaxy far, far away. The ‘Indiana Jones’ films are the apex of the adventure genre. Making a splash 40 years ago with ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ the daring archaeologist was then the focus of three sequels: ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,’ ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,’ and the less than loved ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ When Disney bought Lucasfilm and ushered in a new era of ‘Star Wars’ projects, it was only a matter of time before another Indy film was greenlit. Fast forward to now, after years of delays and development hell, a fifth Indy film is officially on the way, slated to be released in June of next year in what should be a final farewell of Harrison Ford’s time as the valiant archaeologist.
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However, it looks like Disney and Lucasfilm have no plans to put this character to rest anytime soon. Reports have come that the mouse house is looking to give Indy their shared universe treatment, starting with a new series for Disney+. While it does mean fans will get more from the world of Indiana Jones, is it something they really want? Is it a good idea from Disney to exhaust another one of its iconic IP’s dry? Especially one that doesn’t contain lore which spans across entire universes and centuries?
Indiana Jones – What We Know So Far
As of now, there are no details on this prospective ‘Indiana Jones’ series. There is still no word on whether this will be a spin-off of another character from the films, or a prequel possibly centered around a younger Indiana Jones. We do know that after Indy 5, Harrison Ford will be hanging up the hat and whip. It seems unlikely that Disney would really go through with recasting Indiana Jones given how synonymous Ford has become with the character. Then again, this is one of the most iconic characters in American pop culture from the most renowned franchises in film history. So from a business perspective, of course it makes sense to keep this IP rolling.
If this series is indeed not a prequel, but a spin-off centered around another character besides Indy, that would just reek of sheer desperation to keep milking the ‘Indiana Jones’ cash cow. To anyone reading this article, can you think of any other character in these films besides Indy himself that you would like to see a spinoff around? I certainly can’t. Unlike ‘Star Wars’ or Marvel, Indiana Jones is not a property that warrants itself to become an entire shared universe centered around multiple characters and spanning over large periods of time. This franchise has made it clear that the focus is on Indy alone, with everyone else simply allies or acquaintances along his various quests. A prequel may work, but a spinoff just sounds utterly ridiculous.
‘Indy 5’ Is Still on the Way
We will probably have a better idea of what the series will entail after the release of ‘Indiana Jones 5.’ This marks the first film in the franchise that will not be directed by Steven Spielberg as it will be helmed by James Mangold, the force behind ‘Ford V Ferrari’ and ‘Logan.’ Acting alongside Ford in his final swing as Indy are Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas, and Boyd Holbrook. Plot details are still unknown, but the film is still scheduled for release in June of next year.
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As this marks Ford’s last run as the character, if this prospective series is indeed not a prequel but a continuation of the franchise, it is possible that another character introduced in this upcoming film will be the main focus of the series. Returning to the possibility of this series being a spin-off, it is hard to imagine any already existing character in the films carrying a whole series, but could a new character from this film end up being the focus? That sounds a bit more plausible, if handled correctly. It’s still hard to think of an Indiana Jones-based property not centered on Indy himself, but perhaps this upcoming film can introduce us to a new swashbuckling hero whom we as audience members would be interested to see more of. Unlikely, but still possible.
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Is Disney Really This Incapable of Developing Original Content
Whatever ends up happening with this series, whether it ends up being good or not, there is a larger problem here that needs addressing. As mentioned earlier, unlike Marvel or Star Wars, the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise isn’t a property that seems like it can sustain a whole shared universe of content to where people will remain interested in seeing continuous content. It is one thing for Disney to turn every single one of their IPs into multimedia franchises, but to do so at the expense of creating original content makes it more difficult to enjoy their stories as such and further classifies them as products or unnecessary commodities.
If you were to take a look at the upcoming release slate for Disney films and Disney+ projects, you may find one or two original pieces of work on the way, such as Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ and a few other projects, but there’s nothing stopping any of those from eventually being juiced into lackluster franchise entries simply made for cash grabs. At some point, it’s possible that audiences will become sick of the over-saturation of content. People have other commitments outside of going to the movies or watching the latest series. Eventually, audiences are not going to have the time to consume everything and will become extra nitpicky in what they chose to watch. This will only be a detriment to so many other forms of entertaining content that will not garner the high ratings that those belonging to major tentpole franchises will, regardless of quality. Hopefully, Disney can recognize this before it’s too late.
By Nader Chamas
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.