Last weekend, Harrison Ford expressed a willingness to return to Lucasfilm to reprise one of his most famous and iconic roles. No, not Han Solo--although we're all expecting to hear that soon. Rather, Ford said that he would be open to appearing again as Indiana Jones, the intrepid, adventuring archaeology professor...and we think he ought to do it. That's probably not, to be perfectly honest, a popular opinion. While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did alright both critically and at the box office when it first came out, it hasn't aged well and has become something of a punchline among fans. We ourselves even named it as one of the worst "comeback" films for a character. So what makes us think they could do right by the audience the next time out? Read on...! And remember: The rumor has it Harrison Ford wants to do just one of the Star Wars sequels and if it's true that Han Solo will die, his suddenly very active filming schedule could have a couple of spaces in it where no other studio had dared to try and schedule him for anything. Could we see him take on Indy as a result of his character being written out of Star Wars? That could work nicely for Disney... There's Nowhere to Go But Up This one's huge, of course: When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was announced, there were only three films and they were all, as far as the fans were concerned, very good. Even Temple of Doom, most people's choice for third-best, had its adherents and wasn't generally thought to be bad, per se. There was, you could say, noplace to go but down. And that's where the franchise went. Now, though, you have a floor as well as a ceiling. All they have to do in order to justify making the sequel is to make it better, or at least more fan-friendly, than Crystal Skull.
The Movie Really Didn't Do That Badly Going back to an earlier point we kind of blew by: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull rated 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. That might be eight points lower than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 17 points lower than Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it's also better than most summer tentpoles. Meanwhile, the film made more than $300 million domestically and $750 million globally on a budget of $185 million. That's not too shabby, and is far away the highest gross in the franchise if you don't account for things like inflation (the record books don't). No George Lucas Let's face it: George Lucas is a visionary who just...can't seem to make anything work anymore. With him at the helm of Lucasfilm, there was always going to be tinkering. With Indiana Jones now stamped as Property of Walt Disney Studios, it would be difficult for Lucas to step in and do anything that might damage the film. Can we prove it was him who made bad calls last time out? Of course not--but given that the reputation of the Star Wars prequels among fans is very similar to the reputation of the Indiana Jones sequel, it's probably a safe bet. There's a Status Quo Now A lot of what they had to deal with last time around was world-building; it had been fifteen years since audiences had last seen Indy, and everyone involved knew that it could be the last film. The result was they needed to spend a decent amount of time establishing the world for the viewers and then making sure to wrap up as much as possible at the end. This time around, they wouldn't have any such problem. Alright, so he has his long-term love interest, his love child, we know what he's doing and that Henry has passed away. Everything is pretty much set to just turn the key and drive into the next big adventure. Disney Has No Expectations Not only don't the audience have much in the way of expectations anymore, but neither does Disney. When they bought Lucasfilm, the studio made it clear that they had assigned no value to Indiana Jones as a property, and that Star Wars was not only the priority but in fact the whole reason for the acquisition. Everything else was just gravy. What's great, then, is that as long as the movie makes money (which the last one did--quite a bit!), the studio would at least in theory be tickled to do it.