Is Harrison Ford really going back in time for the new Indiana Jones?

Rumours are rife that, with its star nearing 80, Indy 5 will resort to the oldest trick in the book to keep him young

How do you solve a problem like your action-movie leading man being nearly 80 and presumably no longer able to get under those rolling boulders quite as he once did? For the new 1960s-set Indiana Jones movie, once again starring Harrison Ford as the ageing adventurer and disturber of ancient tombs, there are rumours that the answer might just be time travel.

Fans this week have been all over suggestions that Indy will head back to Roman times, as suggested by recent set pictures, though of course he might just be on the 1960s Hollywood set of a swords-and-sandals epic. Then again, there was also that video, published in June, suggesting the archaeologist will be facing off once again against the Nazis, despite the second world war having finished more than two decades earlier.

Could Indy be searching for a new mysterious MacGuffin that allows journeys into the past in James Mangold’s film? This would both explain the apparent scenes from two wildly different eras, and give the director the opportunity to present our hero meeting a younger, digitally de-aged version of himself.

And yet quite how Mangold would present the transition from the near-octogenarian Ford to a version played by the actor via motion-capture “ghosting” (otherwise, what’s the point?) remains to be seen. It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility: we’ve seen actors brought back to life (Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Rogue One) and even movies in which the leading players have been digitally de-aged for most of the run time (The Irishman). Mangold could even kill off Indy Prime, while keeping young Indy for future episodes, though one has to assume even the famously self-confident Ford will be up for retiring the role at some stage.

Another set photo emerged earlier in June showing a stuntman on the set of Indy 5 who appeared to be wearing a Harrison Ford mask. Perhaps this is a new method of digitally de-ageing that we haven’t yet come across. Or maybe somebody somewhere is having a laugh with the paparazzi who keep capturing this stuff. Presumably if successful mo-cap impersonation could be achieved by pulling on a crap rendition of someone else’s face, we’d all be able to sit through the famous lost Bruce Lee movie Game of Death (which was completed, terribly, after the martial-arts legend’s death) without having to reach for the sick bag.

Harrison Ford double wearing an Harrison Ford mask // Indiana Jones 5 (2022) pic.twitter.com/0A24k5FJtZ

— Diogo Filipe Santos (@Div4der) June 7, 2021

Frankly, whatever Mangold is up to, it smacks a bit of desperation. Time travel just about worked as a narrative switcheroo in 2009’s Star Trek, despite the protests of long-term fans of the space saga, because it’s a staple of science fiction. And the supernatural elements of the early Indiana Jones movies worked because the Nazis really were obsessed with occult objects. The idea that Indy and his rivals from the Third Reich might be competing to chase down antiquities such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail made total sense for period pieces set in the classic pulp-fantasy era.

But nobody really liked the most recent Indiana Jones movie, 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – featuring a relatively youthful 66-year-old Ford – partly because the Soviet Union was not exactly known for being obsessed with aliens (as Cate Blanchett’s nefarious Irina Spalko patently is). Why try the trick again 13 years later when the obvious answer is to recast the role or retire the franchise?

Mangold himself argues that naysayers have yet to see the final cut of Indy 5. “I understand wariness, I live it. I don’t know if I’ll make you happy but my team and I will knock ourselves out trying to make something good,” he wrote on Twitter in June. “We admire the craft of the originals. I hope when you see real images, they’ll look better to you than paparazzi shots from bushes. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t let you down. I cherish old Hollywood pictures. Give me a little air to make the film. Then make your judgements, okay?”

It’s a fair point. And perhaps, in 2023, by the power of digital wizardry (alongside time travel and a stonking good story) we might yet see a fifth Indiana Jones movie that stands proudly in the pantheon. Failing that, it had better be a really clever mask.

Contributor

Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Can Indiana Jones 5 avoid nuking the fridge all over again?
With the last film now shorthand for shoddy plotting, mere plausibility is now the holy grail. Will James Mangold pull it off?

Ben Child

04, Jun, 2021 @10:27 AM

Article image
Harrison Ford: 'I’d love to do another Indiana Jones'
73-year-old star reveals he would jump at chance to shoot one more whip-cracking adventure as the intrepid archaeologist, following Steven Spielberg’s hint at fifth outing

Ben Child

12, Nov, 2015 @10:41 AM

Article image
Harrison Ford: five best moments
The veteran superstar actor’s greatest hits, from a career that has spanned six decades.

Benjamin Lee

08, May, 2015 @4:09 PM

Article image
Harrison Ford back as Indiana Jones for fifth film, directed by Steven Spielberg
Long-mooted instalment in archeologist’s adventures to reunite star, director and producer George Lucas, and be released in 2019

Catherine Shoard

15, Mar, 2016 @6:08 PM

Article image
Steven Spielberg: Harrison Ford will never be replaced as Indiana Jones
The director is keen to make a fifth adventure with the star and denies rumours that another actor will take on the role

Benjamin Lee

02, Dec, 2015 @3:32 PM

Article image
Indiana Jones named greatest movie character of all time in new poll
Swashbuckling adventurer played by Harrison Ford takes top spot despite studio Disney preferring to focus on new Star Wars movies

Ben Child

24, Jun, 2015 @8:34 AM

Article image
Why I'd like to be … Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Why righteous treasure hunter and all-round intellectual superhero Indiana Jones inspired our Reel history columnist Alex von Tunzelmann to join the Young Archaeologists' Club and occasionally don a fedora

Alex von Tunzelmann

15, Jul, 2014 @6:30 AM

Article image
Hear me out: why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn't a bad movie
The latest in our series of writers defending maligned films is a reappraisal for the fun fourth Indiana Jones adventure

Luke Walpole

16, Feb, 2021 @7:14 AM

Article image
My favourite film aged 12: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Nazi jousters on motorbikes, crash-landing biplanes, spooky catacombs and ancient riddles – my first encounter with Indy was a thrilling sensory overload

Laurence Topham

11, May, 2020 @8:31 AM

Article image
Harrison Ford: does Star Wars need a septuagenarian Han Solo?

Ben Child: Actor would play Indiana Jones again 'in a New York minute', but waffles on role in Disney's upcoming Episode VII

Ben Child

11, Oct, 2013 @1:33 PM