Have I mentioned I like Indiana Jones? If I haven't then consider yourself informed. I'm a fan of storytelling, specifically visual storytelling. Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, Marvel, DC (comics, since the films, aren't so great) have told some of the greatest stories of all time, but do you know what makes their stories so great? GREAT CHARACTERS. I'm in love with the characters. Who isn't? We’re talking about massive cultural icons who I believe can grow beyond the actors who have helped make them great.
Consider James Bond for a moment. The character has survived seven different actors over 60 plus years. Skyfall, 007’s latest outing, grossed over a billion dollars. A BILLION FREAKING DOLLARS *touches pinky to lip. What makes generation after generation pay to see these films? GREAT CHARACTERS. We love James Bond, we want to be him, we want his girlfriend, car, watch, clothing, and muscles. That’s why we poor over the films, books, and comics.
Speaking of comics, I kind of look at it like this: If you ever read comics (or already have) you will notice that every so often the names will change at the beginning of the book. Furthermore, the art has probably shifted. It most likely is the begging of a new story arch and what you're noticing is that a new creative team has taken over the book. It's still [INSTER HERO HERE] but he maybe looks or acts a bit different. The canon is still present also. Everything that came before happened and this new story will add to that canon. You push on anyway excepting that this is still [INSERT HERO HERE] you're reading and you can't wait to see what happens. If that book flops? Oh well. The next take on the character might be better.
This is how we should look at certain legendary film characters. Not all of them, but those select few who rise above the cream and lodge themselves so deeply into popular culture that they spread like a virus through the veins of a man with a low immune system. These are characters designed more like TV, where the main character doesn't really ever change but the characters in the worlds he visits do. For example...
I'll use the easiest example first since it's a no-brainer. There have been eight actors to don the cape and cowl and fight crime as The Batman, so it's pretty easy to imagine the same thing for Cap, Thor, and even RDJ’s Irons Man. Where I’d like to see the MCU mix it up is canon. Remember when I mentioned how comics change creative teams but keep the canon? Well with the MCU you have a great opportunity to bring this to the cinema. Hey, if you would’ve asked anyone 20 years ago if audiences would accept a massively connected universe on screen that worked exactly like the comics they would’ve laughed and had no clue what you was talking about. What’s to say bringing this aspect of comics to cinemas wouldn’t work just as well?
I’m one of the rare folks who has enjoyed every Disney Star Wars, from the nostalgic fan-service to letting the past die, I’ve been right on board enjoying every minute. That being said I know the episodic Skywalker story-arch can’t last forever. For a great article on that check out Nick Doll’s thoughts here. I’m talking more specifically about characters like Han Solo or Poe Dameron. SOLO a Star Wars Story, despite it being a financial failure, was really fun and proved that characters can be more than just the actors who made them. Poe and Han can have ongoing serialized adventures within the SW universe just like...
Have I mentioned that I like Indiana Jones? Did I? Oh, yea...
Indy is another no-brainer, in that he draws heavy inspiration from Bond. Spielberg looked at Indy as his 007 and when it came time to cast his Dad, who did they look to? None other than Bond himself, Sir Sean Connery. Indy’s adventures are not really episodic, pulling from old serials of the 1930s, each is an adventure focusing on another powerful artifact in a different part of the world. We want to be Indy, where his clothes, own his whip, travel around the world to exciting and exotic places. Why should we have to say goodbye to this character because Harrison Ford is old? Indy six should be a recast and not with a girl!
GENDER SWAPPING STUNTS
I don’t mind girl Ghostbusters. In fact, I welcome them, just don’t tell me an ALL GIRL Ghostbusters isn’t just stunt casting for box office results. Why couldn’t it be half and half? Because that doesn’t make an attractive headline. GHOSTBUSTERS REBOOT RECASTED WITH GIRLS is a viral headline. Too bad it didn’t bring the box office results they hoped for. I would imagine that this kind of stunt casting for box office results would be insulting to folks. For this reason, among many others, I disagree with gender swapping (except for Bond, girl Bond would be awesome).
PASSING THE HAT
Furthermore, passing the torch (or hat) won’t work for a character like Indiana Jones either. Indy’s hat is just a hat unless it’s on Indy’s head. It isn’t a mantle to be passed on like Batman or Superman, there’s only one Indy and it’s Indy. The time setting is another problem, we like Jones pre-WW2. In other words, a contemporary Indy wouldn’t work, you’d just have folks yelling “nice hat loser” at him all the time. (I know this from experience.) We need Indy punching Nazi’s.
In the end, I imagine the current trend of nostalgia-fueled blockbusters will fade, so this may all be redundant but if it doesn’t, I wouldn’t mind seeing my favorite character return in some way shape or form every few years. Let me know what you think by commenting below or tweeting me @Indy_Filmmaker.