Indiana Jones Is The Perfect Example Of A Franchise That Needs To Die

By Zack Zagranis | Published


To paraphrase the man himself, Indiana Jones belongs in a museum. What I mean by that is kill the franchise and put the three—sorry—five movies on exhibit for fans and other filmmakers to admire whenever they want. If Disney were smart, they’d leave the Indiana Jones movies as fossils, remnants of a specific type of adventure cinema that no longer exists, instead of pulling a John Hammond and messing with their DNA.

Disney Won’t Let It Die

indiana jones and the dial of destiny

Unfortunately, Disney, like Hammond, is too preoccupied with what it could do rather than what it should do. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is proof of that. Was it possible to make another movie with Harrison Ford shambling around as the corpse of Henry Jones Jr.? Absolutely. Should Disney have made it? Absolutely not.

Jurassic Indy

I keep making allusions to the Jurassic Park/World series because the two franchises share some similarities. Steven Spielberg started both franchises as a tribute to two extinct genres: the Saturday matinee adventure serials of the ’30s and ’40s and the largely stop-motion dinosaur-as-monster movies that went out of vogue when kaiju films started getting big in the ’60s. In addition, both franchises carried on well past their expiration date and, in Jurrassic’s case, mutated into a generic blockbuster franchise capitalizing on the nostalgia of Gen-X/Millenials.

Indy Is No Han Solo

I love the Indiana Jones movies, but the franchise was doomed from the beginning for at least two big reasons. The first is that, Indiana Jones just isn’t franchise material, not in the way Star Wars is. I know this because George Lucas tried his best to turn it into another Star Wars, and it went over like a wet fart in a packed elevator.

Most fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark don’t even know that Kenner made Indiana Jones action figures in the same scale as the company’s Star Wars figures. I didn’t as a kid and I would have been on the younger age of the target demographic. I also never played the Temple of Doom arcade game, the Indiana Jones games on the NES and SNES or wore an Indiana Jones T-shirt.

Indiana Jones was never that kind of franchise, and it still isn’t, no matter how much Disney tries to market it. As a kid in the ’80s, the only time I pretended to be Indiana Jones was if I found something vaguely whip-like to swing around. And even then, it was probably only a handful of times since the number of objects that resembled blasters and lightsabers when I was a kid vastly outnumbered the things I could get away with whipping around.

The Last Crusade

indiana jones

The other big reason that the Indiana Jones films don’t work as a franchise is that by the third movie, it was no longer Steven Spielberg and George Lucas messing around and making a movie for themselves—which is what Raiders was and what all Indy movies should be. Instead, with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiy films established a formula and continuity, two things that changed the series from an anthology about a daredevil archeologist who goes on fantastic but unconnected adventures across the globe to a movie “franchise.

I love Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s my second favorite Indian Jones film after Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s also the movie that ruined the franchise by making Nazis Indy’s defacto nemesis and bringing back Sallah.

Prior to Last Crusade, Indiana Jones had no set enemies or sidekicks. He fought the Nazis once, with Sallah and Marion by his side then he fought the Thuggee cult with Willie and Short Round. A proper Indy 3 would have conceivably seen him up against a new challenge with new tagalongs. Instead, the backlash to the much darker Temple of Doom caused Spielberg and Lucas to panic and start playing the hits by the third movie.

Dial Of Destiny

harrison ford indiana jones

Fast forward to Dial of Destiny, and we have Nazis, Marion, and Sallah, like Disney, was following a checklist, with no involvement from Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. Just to hammer that home, the two men who conceived of Indiana Jones as a passion project while building sandcastles in Hawaii had nothing to do with the fifth movie based on a film they made, not because there was a market for it but because they thought it would be fun.

I like James Mangold as a director, but I don’t care how great Logan was; Dial of Destiny was a product, plain and simple. Was it better than Crystal Skull? Probably, but that shouldn’t exist either. Indiana Jones was already a nostalgic tribute to movies of the past. Once it becomes a nostalgic tribute to itself, it’s time to let it die.

Kill The Eighties

sylvester stallone harrison ford

And that goes for Jurrasic Park/World, Ghostbusters, and any other legacy franchise that can’t justify its continued existence. It’s time Hollywood realized that Mad Max: Fury Road was a fluke and took the ’80s and ’90s properties off of life support and let them rest finally. They’ve earned it.