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Indiana Jones Journal: Ghosts & Aliens

Writers and would-be Indys weigh in on the franchise…

While we wait for an actual trailer and any information about the return of “Indiana Jones” to the cineplex, the chatter about Dr. Jones continues to build. This week, two news items included admissions from a former Indy screenwriter and a would-be Indy.

Aliens A Mistake?

Interdimensional being. Image: Lucasfilm.

This one was not a surprise – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas spoke about the controversial choice during the DVD/iTunes extras of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

You see, when Harrison Ford, Spielberg, and Lucas decided to return to Dr. Jones, George wanted to continue the 1940s – 50s B-movie serials thing and include aliens in the pantheon of Indy’s adventures.

Meanwhile, Steven said he had “done” aliens before (what with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, and War of the Worlds).

So, Lucas went back to his notebooks, did some thinking, and declared the otherworldly presence as “inter-dimensional beings.” Spielberg relented, and Crystal Skull included a UFO, Area 51, and a McGuffin in the guise of a big-eyed magnetic skull.

The results are debatable.

What Do You Think of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Image: Lucasfilm.

That said, I really enjoy the film.

Of course, I own a copy of Chariots of the Gods, a book by 1968 by Erich von Däniken (Did aliens visit ancient humans?), and having the bejesus scared out of me by many UFO documentaries and movies (A, B, and C), I “got” the movie. It made sense to me.

Moreover — and beyond the fun Yale University cameo (I grew up in Connecticut) — the Henry Jones Jr. Easter eggs (Marion’s jokes about baby monkeys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mutt also being named after a dog), and seeing the interior of Dr. Jones’ apartment, I was able to take in the spectacle (eight times in the theater, by my recollection) and still appreciate it thoroughly.

In fact, the aliens or “nuked fridge” never bothered me as much as two forced comedic scenes (“Call it a rope!” and “Three times it drops.”).

After all, Indy had already survived “the Wrath of God” and zombification, as well as choosing wisely. It wasn’t a stretch, at least to my brain, to include interdimensional beings into the canon.

Other folks? Well, not so much.

Writer David Koepp “Never Happy”

And included in that number is one of the screenwriters.

UPROXX recounted:

Image: Lucasfilm

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull writer David Koepp recently appeared on the Script Apart podcast, where he discussed the decision to add extra-terrestrials to the Indy canon. “I was never happy with the idea [of the aliens]. When I came on, I tried to convince [Spielberg and co-writer George Lucas] to change it. I had this other idea. They didn’t want to change it,” he said.

Koepp added:

“I think that a lot of the pushback that movie got, in a larger sense aside from little things people might not have liked, that were too silly or whatever, the larger one was that, ‘We don’t feel like aliens should’ve been in an Indiana Jones movie.’ Fair enough, in retrospect, you’re probably right…”

David Koepp, Indiana Jones IV screenwriter

Fair enough. but let’s remember Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull earned nearly $ 800 million at the box office. A whole lot of peeps saw the movie.

Listen to the full podcast here:

New New Indys

On the other hand, Chris Pratt said folks will not be seeing him in an Indiana Jones movie anytime soon.

On the “Happy Sad Confused podcast,” Pratt was asked about the oft-cited rumor of his taking up the fedora after Harrison Ford is done with the role of Indiana Jones.

Variety posted:

Photoshop of Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones. Image provenance unknown.

“I don’t even know who Steven Spielberg is. Who? Steven Who?” Pratt quipped before getting more serious. “No, aren’t they doing ‘Indiana Jones’ with Harrison Ford? All I know is I once saw a quote from Harrison Ford and I don’t even know if it was really him but it was enough to scare me, that was like, ‘When I die, Indiana Jones dies.’ And I’m like, am I gonna get haunted by the ghost of Harrison Ford one day when he dies if I play…?”

And, for once, Pratt ain’t foolin’ – Ford did say that.

“Don’t you get it? When I’m gone, he’s gone…”

Harrison Ford on Indiana Jones

My take: Sure, whatever.

I, for one, won’t be surprised to see an Indy-heir apparent hit the screen in the years following Indy V. Just like it wouldn’t shock me to see Alden Ehrenreich return as Han Solo on the small screen.

There’s simply too much “Fortune and Glory” to be had for Lucasfilm and Disney.

Listen to the full podcast featuring Pratt below:

As always, keep it here for all the latest regarding the further adventures of Indiana Jones.

About Post Author

A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern University, John Bishop, became the beat reporter for before the Boston Bruins 2006-07 NHL hockey season. While with the Black & Gold, “^BISH” traveled North America and Europe to cover the team's every move via laptop, blog, and smartphone. The co-author of two books, "Bygone Boston" and "Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins," John also covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the Bs 2011 Stanley Cup championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea, and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke, in central Massachusetts.

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