So, this is a question that’s swung around again.
At the same time that Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, they also acquired the rights to Indiana Jones, meaning that, should they so choose, Disney is more than able to make further Indiana Jones movies. At the minute, they’re focusing on Star Wars (you may have heard about this), but make no mistake, there will be a fifth Indiana Jones movie.
What’s interesting, of course, is the fact that recently producer Frank Marshall (who’s worked on all the previous four Indy movies) has explicitly spoken out against “the Bond thing” of recasting, but is, in fact, open to letting someone “take the baton”.
Not so different from what they set up with Shia LaBeouf last time, when you think about it, but I get the impression they’re unlikely to turn around and hand him the fedora and the bullwhip.
Which of course begs the question – what should be done?
Recasting the role certainly has some benefits to it, but there’s a large hurdle too. Indiana Jones has always been the part of Harrison Ford, and it’s defined by his performance; it’d be difficult for an actor to find a new angle for the role, avoid imitation and simple mimicry, but at the same time remaining demonstrably the same character.
There would also, I suppose, be the temptation to reinvent the part, and start with something new from the ground up – like, say, casting a woman in the role. Now, whilst I am not typically against recasting traditionally male parts as women, it’s not necessarily a choice I’d advocate in this instance, essentially for the same reason that recasting has certain dangers to it. I think that, before you introduce a Diana Jones, you’d need to get audiences to be more receptive to the idea of a new Indiana Jones full stop. Incremental change.
(Mind you, I’d love to be proved wrong about that.)
Harrison Ford on his own probably can’t carry the film; he’s 73 now, and I suppose he’d be approaching 80 before an Indiana Jones film gets off the ground. It’s a fairly physical role, and whilst on the one hand he’s still surviving plane crashes and all that, I am not entirely sure he’d be up to all the stunts which one would expect to come with the role.
Which suggests, I suppose, a film where Harrison Ford takes a role similar to Sean Connery in The Last Crusade, whilst a younger actor takes on the more physical elements of the role, setting this younger actor up as a potential replacement for Ford in future movies.
Maybe they’d cast Shia LaBeouf.
But I can’t see them being particularly eager to do that, necessarily, given what happened with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So I would posit a slightly different route, combining both possibilities…
You’d present the film across two time frames; one with a young Indiana Jones, and one with the older, more experienced, Harrison Ford model. It wouldn’t simply be flashbacks or a framing device (though an elderly Indiana Jones lecturing or telling his grandkids stories could work as a pretty good framing device) but rather, a story involving both iterations of the character, moving back and forth, in a non linear fashion.
Essentially, the path you’d take would be old Indiana Jones revisiting a previous adventure, going after that one last relic that he never quite managed to get the first time – but because he’s older and wiser, now, he can succeed where previously he failed. Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones would take a more intellectual path; even though he’s older now, his mind is still as sharp as it’s ever been.
You’d still have fairly long segments with both actors – split fifty fifty, I’d say – and it’d be important to make sure that both of them have their own story. Harrison Ford shouldn’t simply be relegated to a narrator, and the young actor isn’t just there for set pieces. If done right, this would act as a celebration of the character as a whole, and indeed the movie franchise as a whole.
As an idea, I think this has a lot of potential. You could potentially market it as being Indiana Jones’ First and Last Adventure; if the young actor is playing an Indiana Jones at an early stage in his career, pre Temple of Doom, they can likely find something a little more interesting to do with the part than a simple imitation of Harrison Ford.
Perhaps, say, when young Indiana Jones was going through this adventure, he was in a particularly bad place? Hence why he failed, and why it has a later significance for the elderly Harrison Ford? That’s only the barest bones of an idea, of course, but the overarching point is that you have a lot of potential to play around with here.
And, of course, there’s nothing stopping them from making further movies with the young Indiana Jones in the future. Which I’m sure Disney would appreciate!