Indiana Jones 5 director warns of a darker, morally ‘gray’ take on franchise: ‘Good and evil’ not so clear

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” director James Mangold recently described how the upcoming sequel will be a departure in tone from the previous films in the summer blockbuster series. He insisted that viewers should be ready for an Indiana Jones movie set in a world “no longer seen in such clear demarcations of black and white and good and evil.”

80-year-old actor Harrison Ford will soon be seen portraying a grizzled, older version of the adventurous archeology professor Americans have watched for decades. Director James Mangold, famous for films such as “Logan” and “3:10 to Yuma” spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about the tone of the newest sequel to the Indiana Jones series.

“We can’t hide from where we are in our lives — none of us can — and neither can Indiana Jones,” Mangold told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wanted to follow Harrison’s own lead and simply deal with it straight on.”

He added further that Indiana Jones will be grappling with growing older in a changing world.


“It’s not just a movie about a hero in his twilight years who is called back into action. It’s more than just that his bones might ache, it’s that his soul might ache, or that some of his optimism or sense fitting into the world might have evaporated,” he wrote. “The mistake you can make in movies — and we’ve all seen movies like this — is where someone is of a ripe age, but the entire movie is continuing this charade along with them that they’re not that old.”

Mangold emphasized that part of this change is because the first three films were clustered around World War II and the Nazis, but claimed this most recent installment is set during an era with less easily definable heroes and villains.

“The first three Indiana Jones movies took place in roughly the same period,” Mangold told The Hollywood Reporter. “They all easily fit with the serialized, theatrical, almost screwball-action style of the movies that were being released in the period they’re set in.” 

Mangold wondered, “How do you move forward into new decades where the world is no longer seen in such clear demarcations of black and white and good and evil?” 

He continued, pondering, “Where the whole concept of raiding tombs and fighting over relics is looked at in a different way? It’s not about changing the story but allowing the character to experience how the world has changed around him.”


He added that “And our perception of politics is more gray,” and elaborated, “Who’s a villain? Who are we working with? Who are we fighting against? Proxy wars, all of that. It’s not as simple as the era around World War II. What happens to a hero built for a black-and-white world, when he finds himself in one that is gray? It’s a problem that produces humor, produces contradictions, produces adjustments that this character’s going have to make.”

Mangold said that part of the film will be a flashback, made with the help of computer animation to show Jones in his younger years, serving as a major contrast to the more modern era of 1969.

“By showing him in his most hearty and then finding him at 70 in New York City, it produces for the audience a kind of wonderful whiplash of how they’re going to have to readjust and retool their brains for this guy,” he said. “His past is a live memory for the audience, hanging over a man who is now living with anonymity in a world that no longer cares or recognizes the things he felt so deeply about. You’re left with a multilayered perception of his character, both what he was and what he is, and how the world is different between the first 20 minutes of the movie.”

However, in an age of reboots and spin-offs that are slammed for disrespecting their source material, such as HBO’s “Velma,” some commentators are already sounding the alarm that the new film will disparage the franchise. 

Pop culture news outlet Bounding Into Comics editor-in-chief John F. Trent reacted to the same interview by writing that Mangold, “admitted what many feared that he, Disney, and Lucasfilm would do to Indiana Jones: they are maligning his character in a similar fashion to how Rian Johnson did to Luke Skywalker.”

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