Disney purchased all of Lucasfilm back in 2012 for more than $4 billion. Most people say that Disney bought Star Wars, but Lucasfilm had a lot more going for it than just a galaxy far far away. They also were a piece of the puzzle that is now allowing Disney to make Indiana Jones 5 and to continue the franchise how they see fit in the future. Harrison Ford will be returning to the role of Indiana Jones at least once more, but what of the future?
A couple of things have transpired recently that pretty much guarantee that Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones 5 is not going to be the last time we see the iconic character on screen. The director recently promised that he won’t kill Ford in the movie, which seems smart for various reasons. More importantly though, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a statement that essentially confirms there will be another actor in the role of Indiana Jones at some point or another.
“Right now, we’re focused on a reboot, or a continuum and then a reboot of some sort. Well, we’ll bring him back, then we have to figure out what comes next. That’s what I mean. It’s not really a reboot, it’s a boot – a reboot. I don’t know. We [got] Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in the film. But then what’s the direction? I’ve had discussions about what the direction is, [but] I don’t want to get into it. I don’t think it reaches the scale of the universe of Star Wars, but I see making more. It won’t be just a one-off.”
By the time Indiana Jones 5 comes out in 2019, Harrison Ford will be approaching 80 years old. That is pushing it. No matter how bad Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was, it was nice to see Ford back as Indy, but beyond Indy 5, it is almost impossible to imagine him doing anything resembling the physical demand required to do the role again. But Disney seems intent on moving forward with the franchise, so that means at some point, we are going to have to accept somebody else in the role.The big question is, who should do it? Well, we already have a primary candidate.
Hail Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich has been cast as the young Han Solo for the upcoming Star Wars spinoff movie, which is set to drop in 2018. Not that anyone needs to be reminded of this, but it just so happens that Harrison Ford also played Han Solo. Ford first played Solo, and then took on the role of Indy a few years later. It also turns out that Disney owns both Star Wars and Indiana Jones now. Ergo, it makes sense that Disney might tap Ehrenreich. Could he be the logical choice to play Indy after Ford is done?
Though it may be logical on paper, the real question is, should Ehrenreich also play Indiana Jones? That is tough to say, but lets try and answer that question to the best of our ability. Before digging into some of the larger bits that go into answering this question, the most glaring problem is that Ehrenreich hasn’t really done all that much. Hail Caesar! is arguably what he is most well known for at this point, and that movie didn’t exactly break the bank at the box office and wasn’t the Coen Brothers best movie by any stretch of the imagination. So, in terms of what he can do on screen, we are pretty limited in being able to judge Ehrenreich, which is problematic. Or is it?
Prior to being Han Solo, Ford had definitely been acting, but not in anything that people would have heavily associated him with. So, in everyone’s eyes, he simply was Han Solo. Even after A New Hope, Ford didn’t do anything that could overwrite that association, so when he debuted as Indy, we were able to be sort of say to ourselves “Oh hey! Han Solo is now the coolest archaeologist I have ever seen! Isn’t that neat?” That is largely why we still associate Ford with those two roles more than anything else. If we look at Ehrenreich’s career up to this point, it very much mirrors that possibility.
Right now, we are going to be able to walk into the Young Han Solo Star Wars movie and, for the most part, be able to associate Ehrenreich as just that character. Disney seems to really know what they are doing, and the Star Wars universe is very rich with possibility, so it doesn’t seem like they would be doing this movie if they thought there was any major chance it would fail. They must have a tremendous amount of confidence Ehrenreich, especially given that they reportedly held more than 1,000 auditions for the part. So, let’s use some assumptive reasoning to answer the Indiana Jones question.
Let’s assume that Disney at least largely knows what they’re doing. They are crushing it at the box office time and time again, and fans seem to like if not love most of the movies they are putting out lately. So, if that is the case, let’s assume that Ehrenreich is at least going to be good as Han Solo and that the Young Han Solo movie will at least be good. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller at the helm, it also seems likely the movie will be at the very least good. So, if that is the case and Ehrenreich can pull off Han Solo, why not give him the role of Indiana Jones? The same actor played him originally, so it would kind of make sense to have the guy replacing Harrison Ford also play both roles. Kind of.
Many actors manage to balance multiple big franchises in Hollywood. That is not at all impossible. But to take Ehrenreich out of relative obscurity, put him in one of the most iconic roles of all time, and then turn right around and have him play yet another one of the most iconic roles of all time. That is asking an awful lot. That is a lot of pressure and there is a lot of potential to burn him out at that point. It would be hard to squeeze in other projects and other actors may be able to handle multiple franchises, but there are few franchises as big as Star Wars or Indiana Jones. Not only that, but much like Han Solo is going to be a huge break for Ehrenreich, Indiana Jones could be a massive break for another actor. Perhaps that is how it should be.
There is no definitive answer. We can’t say for certain “yes, he should” or “no, he shouldn’t.” But Indiana Jones is going to continue and somebody is going to have to play him. Having someone other than Ford do it is going to be a tough pill to swallow. If Ehrenreich defies expectations and crushes it as Han Solo, it will be hard to argue against him also doing an Indiana Jones reboot, because there aren’t a lot of people out there who can hold their own when compared to a guy like Harrison Ford.