The last time we saw Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) on the big screen was in the much derided “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Despite the efforts of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the film angered fans for many reasons including the nuked fridge, the CGI ants, and of course those controversial aliens. Needless to say, having a film so hated resulted in the franchise having to lay dormant since. This is surprising as once Disney purchased Lucasfilm it seemed like an “Indiana Jones” film would follow suit. Now after 15 years, Indy will return in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” Directed by James Mangold and starring the returning Harrison Ford, the film will also star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and Thomas Kretschmann. We finally have our first look at the film, and like any teaser trailer, it’s left us with a lot of big questions.
Addressing the Elephant in the Room
*Warning: the following section may contain spoilers.
Before diving into the meat of the trailer, it’s important to discuss the controversy that is currently surrounding the film. Earlier in the year, supposed leaks from early test-screenings reported that the film would center around time travel. The leaker claimed to be an insider on the film and reported that the film would see Ford’s older Indiana Jones and Bridger’s Helena, Indy’s goddaughter, travel back in time to the adventures of a younger Indy. Through a series of events, Helena would eventually take over the mantle of the series’ new lead. Many were quick to react once this trailer was released, saying it “confirmed” these rumors. However, it’s clear that these claims are nothing more than that, they’re sheer rumors and spotty ones at that. Director James Mangold has even responded to what he dubs as “Trolling A-Holes,” as he expressed on Twitter, “No one is ‘taking over’ or replacing Indy or donning his hat, nor is he being ‘erased’ through some contrivance.” With that out of the way…
What is the Plot of “Dial of Destiny”?
From this trailer, it’s clear that we’ll be getting an older Indy years out from the adventure business. Bored and seemingly at the end of his rope, he’s pulled back into the world of treasure hunting when his goddaughter Helena seeks his help. Whatever situation the two have found themselves in, it all ties back to one of Indy’s earlier encounters with the Nazis. Even though the film is set in the mid 1960s, it appears as though there are still some members of the party active in the states and also seeking the mysterious Dial of Destiny. This is also significant as Mangold has confirmed the film will be set against the backdrop of Operation Paperclip. This was a secret program by the United States Government during the Space Race which saw more than 1600 German scientists (many of which had ties to the Nazi party) aid in getting us to the moon.
Who Are the Villains?
While we’ve yet to be given exact names, the film looks to have several villains at play. The most prominent one in this first look is Mads Mikkelsen who plays Nazi scientist Voller. As Mikkelsen told Empire “There is something that could make the world a much better place to live in. He would love to get his hands on it. Indiana Jones wants to get his hands on it as well. And so, we have a story.” The film will also have “Narcos” star Boyd Holbrook as Voller’s lapdog and muscle, Klaber. We see him fire off some rounds during a massive parade which is looking to be one of the film’s big sequences. There’s also a possibility that Antonio Banderas’ still unnamed character could have a sinister part to play, though the actor confirmed in an interview with Collider that it would be a much smaller role.
Finally, What is the Dial of Destiny?
Unfortunately, this trailer does not give an exact answer as to what the titular Dial of Destiny is, but there’s plenty of room to speculate. While we do see flashes of the past and a de-aged Harrison Ford, after the reception of the aliens in “Crystal Skull,” it’s unlikely the studio and creators would risk such a concept like traveling through time. However, from Ford’s voiceover at the beginning of the trailer, we do hear him tell Sallah (John Rhys Davies) that he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, “But a few times in my life I’ve seen things. Things I can’t explain. And I’ve come to believe it’s not so much what you believe, it’s how hard you believe it.” So whatever it is, it could be of supernatural origin. Being set during the time of the Space Race, it’s possibly tied into space once again. Maybe not aliens, but perhaps it came from space or crashed to Earth a long time ago. One little easter egg I noticed was the film looks to be acknowledging those controversial extraterrestrials as Indy appears to be teaching a class on an object similar to the flying saucer from that film.
It’s clear from this trailer though that the film and its creators look to be taking the series back to its roots, and since this will likely be Harrison Ford’s final time donning the fedora, it’s rather fitting they go in this direction. Mangold looks to be bringing his slick eye for action over from “Ford v. Ferrari” and ”Logan,” and Harrison Ford looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. The new cast is stacked as well with Bridger sure to be the standout new character. If nothing else, you can’t help but get pumped once that iconic John Williams’ theme kicks in, and it’ll sound even better in the theaters on June 30, 2023 when the film is officially released to the masses.
By Adam Beam