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Dial of Destiny proves that the Indiana Jones franchise should end now

In 1981, Indiana Jones first graced the big screen in Steven Spielberg’s now-classic movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Forty-two years later, it’s time for Indy — his movies, his adventures, and his character — to end.

The fifth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, just hit theaters last week to a so-so opening weekend at the box office. The film follows Harrison Ford‘s titular character as he dons his hat once more after he’s pulled into a high-stakes adventure years in the making. Featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Indy’s goddaughter Helena Shaw and Mads Mikkelsen as the villainous Nazi Jürgen Voller, Dial of Destiny sees an aged Indiana Jones reckoning with his world and legacy.

The movie is directed by James Mangold of Logan and Ford v Ferrari fame, making it the first Indy movie without Steven Spielberg at the helm. Spielberg’s touch is at the heart of everything Indy, from the beloved and classic Raiders of the Lost Ark to the oft-maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Dial of Destiny also marks the first time without George Lucas taking on writing duties.

While Dial of Destiny may not be the greatest Indiana Jones movie ever made, the film provides a loving conclusion to one of the all-time great adventure franchises. Indiana Jones has produced some of the greatest adventure films ever created, and its legacy will assuredly live on forever. However, Dial of Destiny proves one thing is certain: it’s time for this franchise to end.

It’s OK for franchises to end

Indiana Jones attends a retirement party in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Dial of Destiny‘s most impactful moments come when it’s dealing with and reckoning with the ongoing, never-ending passage of time. From Indy’s own age to the film’s aesthetic mix of old-school adventure entertainment and high-tech CGI, there’s a rumination on time and “progress” going on in Dial of Destiny. By pairing Indy with Helena, a young adventurer that mirrors much of Indy’s own character, Mangold is mixing the new and the old, a common theme in the movie.

Time is the name of the game; even the film’s MacGuffin, a dial created by Archimedes that can predict “fissures in time,” is dealing directly with ideas of time. Dial of Destiny, which likely isn’t going to be seen as the best Indy movie despite cashing in some high-class entertainment, reckons with the legacy of not only Indy but also these kinds of films and adventures.

There is so much more to discuss with Dial of Destiny itself, but, to put it shortly, all of this suggests that Dial of Destiny is aware of its nature. It’s aware that it’s likely time for Indiana Jones to hang up his hat. It’s also probably time for Indiana Jones as a franchise to do the same.

Should Indiana Jones go the James Bond route and recast?

A montage of all the actors who have played James Bond.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

An avenue that a studio could have taken — and still can take — with this franchise is to take the James Bond route. Recast Indiana Jones every few years and continue creating an expansive timeline of adventures. It wouldn’t really be that hard. The form, structure, and stakes of an Indiana Jones movie are such an open yet effective model, much like a James Bond movie. It allows for creativity within the margins, but it’s all largely just a highly effective action-adventure series with a zany and personable lead.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years, Disney actually does announce they are taking this route, but that would be a shame. The best strategy at this point would be to move on. Indiana Jones will always be Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford. Those three minds are crucial to this franchise; it doesn’t seem like we will ever see those three reunite for an Indiana Jones movie again. Mangold’s film can function as an Indy movie thanks to Ford as well as its internal text of franchise reckoning. I’m not convinced that a film without Ford or Spielberg and Lucas will ever feel like an Indiana Jones movie.

Let Indiana Jones rest in peace

INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY Clip - "Rickshaw Chase Scene" (NEW 2023)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a loving conclusion wherein Indy is finally happy and at peace, yet the adventure will never really end. The world is made for adventuring, and nothing is impossible. Sure, it doesn’t hold the visual flair and emotional heart that only Spielberg is able to capture so deftly. It’s not Raiders or The Last Crusade. It’s not reinventing the genre. But it sure is entertaining.

While watching Mangold’s newest installment, I couldn’t help but think that it’s unfortunate that we likely won’t ever see these movies again. Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford caught lightning in a bottle, and I could likely watch Indy and his spelunking until the end of time. However, all good things must come to an end.

As sad as it may be, it’s time to let Indiana Jones die.

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Carson Burton
Carson Burton is an writer, entertainment fanatic, and a proud Crocs owner that loves everything from Spider-Man: Into the…
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