On paper, there’s very little in common between Wolverine and Indiana Jones. Sure, both are pop culture icons, but one is a nigh-unkillable ball of rage with metal bones and cutlery stuck in his fists, while the other is a whip-cracking, hat-wearing professor/adventurer who would rather face the wrath of God than a snake. But now these two famous characters finally have a firm link: James Mangold.
After longtime franchise helmer Steven Spielberg exited the director’s seat (but still staying on as producer) on the long, loooooong-gestating fifth Indiana Jones film earlier this year, it was Mangold who got tapped to take the reins. Prior to last year’s amazing Ford v Ferrari, Mangold had of course written/directed Logan, the final cinematic chapter in the story of Hugh Jackman’s titular comic book character. This sorrowful goodbye to the “Wolverine”, who Jackman has played in the X-Men film franchise since 2000, earned Mangold an Oscar nomination.
And, as the filmmaker, explained to ComicBook.com, it also helped to prepare him on how he was going to tackle another swan song of a fan-favourite character like Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones who has been around for nearly 40 years.
…in all my work, I’m always trying to find an emotional center to operate from. I think the most important thing is, in an age when franchises have become a commodity, that serving the same thing again. At least for me, in the dances I’ve had with any franchises, serving the same thing again, the same way, usually just produces a longing for the first time you ate it. Meaning, it makes an audience wish that they just had the first one over again. So you have to push something to someplace new, while also remembering the core reasons why everyone was gathered. And to use Logan as an example of that, when you’re dealing in a world of a very pressured franchise.
Logan was a comic book superhero movie more dramatic and gritty than possibly anything we’ve ever seen in the genre. It jumped ahead in time and gave us our first R-rated X-Men movie, including having a potty-mouthed Prof. Charles Xavier as Sir Patrick Stewart’s equally iconic character is fighting dementia which has been turned deadly due to his mutant gifts. This was a version of the X-Men far removed from its predecessors, but it always stayed true to the spirit of Logan’s story though.
And while Mangold cannot yet comment on the story of Indy 5, he does hint that this adherence to the “core ideas” of a character that he displayed in Logan is informing his approach now.
For all of the things, and there were many that I freed myself from in the canon, in the baggage, to try and make the best story. The core values of Logan, of Wolverine, and Charles Xavier and the X-Men, were something that I felt we never abandoned. The core ideas of their honor, their sense of duty, and the uniqueness of this particular set of characters that they were outcasts, oddities. Beings that had no home in this world, and yet we’re trying to do good. Were trying to do something right and find their way. Those core issues were at the heart of the movie. And in any franchise I take in, I’d always be trying to capture and make sure that we preserve those core ideas that are at the center, because that’s why these stories are more than franchises. They’re the fairy tales of our contemporary culture.
It’s still going to be some time before we get to see how Mangold plans to “preserve those core ideas” as Indy 5 has been delayed multiple times in the past, and just as things were looking to get back on track the COVID-19 lockdown happened. Speaking to Collider, franchise producer Frank Marshall revealed that the scriptwriting process has surprisingly “just started”, which implies that Mangold is starting things fresh with his own vision instead of using the various other iterations of this film that has been bouncing around for years already. Currently, Disney has no release date pegged for Indiana Jones 5, with Marshall adding that the production is “a moving target right now” as they are still waiting on new health guidelines for how to work safely. With Harrison Ford turning 78 in less than two months time, hopefully they don’t wait too long.
Last Updated: May 27, 2020