No, there won’t be a “new” Indiana Jones — and that’s a good thing
Indy isn’t a Marvel hero. He’s just a guy.
Indiana Jones is an American icon. Throughout his archaeological adventures we’ve seen him conquer Nazis, commies, and snakes. Now, more than 40 years after his first film, Harrison Ford is donning the fedora for a final time in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
While the film is still months away, there’s already growing speculation about where the character goes from here. Will another actor take on the spotlight? What’s Indy’s legacy? All of these questions ignore the best part of Indiana Jones: His mundanity.
“Mundane” here doesn’t have the figurative definition of “boring,” but the literal “of the Earth.” Certain fans in certain fandoms, especially Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, are preoccupied with the issue of legacy. That makes sense, given that there’s a major changing of the guard happening in the MCU; the last stretch of titles revealed a new Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, and now Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has given us a new Black Panther and Iron Man.
But there doesn’t have to be a new Indiana Jones. In fact, there shouldn’t be a new Indiana Jones. It’s not a persona or a title. He’s just a guy. We even learned in The Last Crusade that the name “Indiana” was chosen to avoid association with a legacy. His real name is Henry Jones, Jr.
We’ve seen attempts to find a replacement for this hero. “Mutt,” Indy’s son and companion from the much-maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, seemed poised to follow in his father’s footsteps, or at least helm a spinoff franchise. But there’s no replacing the initial magic of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, so why should we try?
If someone else wants to star in an archaeological action-adventure series, they should — but they should do it under a new name. Maybe Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays Indy’s goddaughter Helena in Dial of Destiny, will start her own journey chronicled by a movie series or Disney+ show. But there can’t be a “new Indiana Jones,” and there shouldn’t be.
Indiana Jones is a man, not a superhero. He doesn’t have special powers or a giant pile of money. He’s just an academic with a penchant for adventure and a love of whip-cracking. And just like all academics, he deserves to retire. It will be sad to put the character to rest, but there’s no telling what new characters he’ll inspire to tell their own stories with their own names.
If Henry Jones Jr. can forge a new identity for himself, the Indiana Jones franchise can too.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny premieres in theaters June 30, 2023.