It’s been on and off for years, but yesterday's announcement that Indiana Jones 5 has a release date of July 19, 2019, with Harrison Ford in the iconic hat and Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair immediately had my brain spinning. After the backlash against Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which remains a perfectly fine entry in the franchise, just not up to the quality of the first three films, where will they take Indiana Jones next?
First, the time period. Crystal Skull released in 2008, was set in 1957 to allow Indy to age 19 years in 'real time' from 1989’s Last Crusade (set in 1938). Following that approach, we will set Indy 5 in 1968, based on the 2019 release date. Still in the Cold War, but also during one of the most turbulent years in American history, with the Vietnam war at or near its apex, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Civil Rights movement, and the election of Richard Nixon. It’s certainly an interesting backdrop, given that the original film was in the pre-World War II era.
Additionally, Crystal Skull paid homage to the B-movies of the late 1950s, specifically flying saucer science fiction films. Both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes were released in 1968, but I don’t think that doing a second sci-fi Indy film would be appealing to fans of the original films. The original Night of the Living Dead was also released that year, but I think zombies are still too popular right now to be an interesting take for Spielberg.
The two of the other major trends in film at the time were worldly spy films and heist films. The James Bond films You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service were released in 1967 and 1969, respectively. Additionally, the original Thomas Crown Affair and The Italian Job films were released in 1968 and ’69. So now we have two genres to play in that are right for the time period.
But remember that Indy is an archaeologist, and seems to specialize in artifacts of spiritual significance. So in thinking about lost items of spiritual significance, and doing a bit of research around archaeological finds of the mid-20th century, I found that L'Anse aux Meadows was discovered in 1960. This site is the only concrete proof of the Viking colonization of North America, and dates back to the year 1000. So maybe Indy is on the hunt for the armor of Beowulf? Better yet might be the eye of Odin, which in legend was placed in a well beneath the world tree, Yggdrasil in exchange for eternal wisdom. Admit it, Indiana Jones and the Eye of Odin is a pretty cool title.
As for the villains, it could be the Soviets again, but if we're going Norse, maybe Indy is called back into action because of some Neo-Nazi group trying to revive his oldest enemies? Or maybe white supremacists? A race for the artifact seems to be key, and surely the truth around Viking settlement of North America could have some fun ramifications.
So now I'll just sit and wait for my call from Mr. Spielberg.