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Indiana Jones 5: How James Mangold Can Bring Something Fresh and Memorable to the Franchise



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The Indiana Jones franchise went on hiatus following the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, which, though panned by many, was a financial success. Now, nearly 15 years later, a fifth Indiana Jones film is slated for release in 2023, helmed by Logan and Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold. Fans of the classic adventure series are excited to see whether this new entry can reinvigorate the franchise in ways that the polarizing, alien-filled Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did not. As CinemaBlend discusses, there is a clear opportunity here to succeed where the last movie in the series failed.

Not much is known about what form the plot of Indiana Jones 5 will take, but producer Frank Marshall says fans will be “very happy” with the sequel. The fifth entry aims to include everything that everybody wants out of an Indiana Jones movie — a tall order for a series with such passionate fans. As we wait for more information about the film to roll out, there is much speculation about how its director plans to revitalize the franchise. So, let’s discuss some of the ways James Mangold can bring something fresh and memorable to the Indiana Jones

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Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford turned 80 years old this year, and so it seems he can no longer play the agile young adventurer he once did. Although there are plans to use de-aging technology on Ford in Indiana Jones 5, the fact remains that he is not the action star he once was. Even if the reports of his “crazy” energy on set are true, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for an 80-year-old Ford to be sprinting away from boulders or diving out of the way of traps. Instead, director James Mangold could make use of the star’s advanced age to tell a different kind of Indiana Jones story.

Take the lessons of Mangold’s Wolverine movie Logan, for example: rather than hiding the age of your hero, turn it into a central feature of the plot. There’s an opportunity here to explore what it means to hunt artifacts and battle supernatural forces as an old man. Now, this doesn’t mean that Indiana Jones 5 can’t be stuffed with fast-paced action sequences and wild stunts; it can, however, reflect on Jones’s legacy, and what it means to be an adventurer whose body is slowly but surely failing. Though Kingdom of the Crystal Skull began to comment on Jones’s age, it did so only by making cheap jokes. In Mangold’s hands, a more mature grappling with the subject is possible. At the very least, we can hope that Indiana Jones 5‘s use of de-aging technology won’t prevent the film from exploring its hero’s age in interesting ways.

Related: Harrison Ford’s Best Dramatic Performances, Ranked

In one of the bigger reveals to come out of Indiana Jones 5‘s pre-production, Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has joined the cast as Helena, an “adventurer and femme fatale,” as composer John Williams has it. Rather than play the film’s love interest, the talented actress and screenwriter seems to be coming onboard as an explorer-archaeologist in her own right. Some have speculated that Bridge’s inclusion sets her up as a possible replacement for Dr. Jones, but it seems more likely that she will be an important secondary character and not the new face of the franchise.

Nevertheless, stars like Waller-Bridge promise to bring youthful energy to the world of Indiana Jones. This casting choice resembles the decision to cast the 22-year-old Shia LaBeouf in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, only this time around we are being introduced to a fresh-faced woman adventurer. Whatever Helena’s role in the story, she presents a major opportunity for Mangold to mix up the pattern of earlier Indiana Jones movies. Even if Harrison Ford takes center stage, he can be made to interact with Waller-Bridge in novel ways, whether by butting heads or teaming up to take down Nazi villains. Not only this, but Waller-Bridge’s presence in the film may draw the attention of viewers unfamiliar with the franchise, as she has plenty of fans of her own.