Focusing on history instead of science fiction can help Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny fix one of the franchise’s biggest criticisms.
The first trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny suggests its true story foundations can fix a big complaint leveled at its predecessor. Set in 1969 amid the Cold War and space race, Indiana Jones’s (Harrison Ford) fifth adventure sees the aging archeologist don the fedora once more and set out to find the titular Dial of Destiny. A mysterious disc that ex-Nazi-turned-NASA scientist Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) has set his sights on obtaining.
2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull diverted the series too far into science fiction territory. While the franchise has had its fair share of fantastical moments, the original trilogy’s artifacts were rooted in mysticism with religious origins. Suffusing Indiana Jones with magical artifacts is central to the appeal of the franchise, and when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull revealed the existence of ancient aliens, the series lost much of its former appeal. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny looks like it will fix this big franchise complaint by suggesting that archeological knowledge and history are key to the adventure.
How Sicily’s War Ship Might Shape Indiana Jones 5
In 1969, an ancient warship was discovered off the coast of Sicily. Dubbed the Marsala Ship, it was then rediscovered in 1971 by archeologist Honor Frost and her team. The boat was dated to have been built between 264 BC and 146 BC by the Carthaginians, making it one of the oldest ocean-going ships ever found, as well as the oldest warship wreck. It was built to be used in the Punic Wars against the Roman Empire and Dial of Destiny could use the ship as a plot point.
Indiana Jones 5’s lengthy production was partly shot in Sicily, and with the film set in 1969, it is possible that the Marsala Ship holds a vital clue to the location of the Dial. The first trailer for Dial of Destiny shows an underwater grave, as well as Indiana and his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) dislodging a boulder from a Greco-Roman statue. Judging by the trailer, the dial itself is likely hidden on land, but the Marsala Ship may hold a clue to its origins or current whereabouts.
After the disappointing ending of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it is important for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny to bring the franchise back to Earth. The best way to do this is by embracing the field of archeology. Indiana Jones is older in Indiana Jones 5, and while he is reaching the end of his academic career, the Dial of Destiny can still rely on the character’s intelligence and wits over physicality. Seeing Indy piece together clues and uncover hidden tombs is just as satisfying as seeing him punch a Nazi. Indiana Jones’ final adventure looks like it will be bringing this sense of exploration back into the series. Whether he is using the Staff of Ra to unearth the Well of Souls or deciphering a Crusader’s gravestone to find the Holy Grail, Indiana Jones’ strength is his intelligence.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny should lean into this aspect of the character to fix one of the biggest complaints aimed at the franchise. Putting an emphasis on Indiana Jones’ varied skills as an archeologist, which have been developed in the library just as much as in the field, is a good way of adapting the story to realistically involve an older Indiana. Fight scenes and set pieces are essential in an Indiana Jones film, but historical locations like the Marsala Ship provide moments of downtime between action sequences that do a lot for character development.
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