Most of what the public has heard so far about the developing fifth Indiana Jones movie hasn’t exactly instilled confidence, as the project has faced delay after delay. But as it turns out, the production’s most recent shake-up has given way to a bit of news. News that shouldn’t necessarily encourage temple-grade doom. While, according to Variety, Steven Spielberg is reported to be eschewing the director’s chair for the first time in the film’s pushing-40-year history, the reins may just fall in the hands of another promising filmmaker: James Mangold.
Per Variety, Mangold is presently in talks to helm Henry Jones Jr.’s next foray into the high-stakes game of museum curation. (A line of work that typically involves Nazi-slaying and footraces with house-sized boulders, just to warn you in case you’re considering it as a major.) Still, Spielberg won’t exactly be operation in absentia; he is expected to remain active as a producer of the yet untitled adventure film, positioned with returning star Harrison Ford.
Mangold’s most recent picture, Ford v Ferrari (which just took home Oscars for Editing and Sound Editing), may not exactly scream, “Give this guy an Indiana Jones movie!”. However, we can look to the rest of the director’s résumé to answer why he might be such a person of interest for the project. In 2013, Mangold breathed new life into a suffering X-Men franchise with the artful The Wolverine. He finally found the humor and humanity in the immortal hero. Four years later he upped the ante with something of a direct follow-up, Logan. That film delivered something both creatively alien from and entirely compatible with the X-Men movies to date.
Frankly, the cinematic realm of Indiana Jones could use some sprucing up of its own. Spielberg and Ford’s long-awaited reunion with the character in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t exactly reignite favor for the powers that be behind the Indy machine. But likewise, it didn’t sour our tastes for more Indy going forward. Thus, some new ingredients are in order. We’re hoping Mangold—if he gets the job—can do for Henry just a bit of what he did for Wolverine and Charles Xavier.
20th Century Studios
That said, a Mangold-led Indiana Jones doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) go as grim and gritty as his Wolverine films did; though Indy has seen his darker moments, and Harrison Ford can glower with the best of ’em, our favorite archaeology professor is a man of good spirit. And to register esteem for Mangold’s ability to handle lighter material with the same flare that embossed The Wolverine and Logan, might I direct you to his earlier work: the fanciful spy venture Knight and Day (with all the lighthearted action you’d want in an Indy flick) or the fantastical romance Kate and Leopold (which shows that Mangold can handle period pieces with panache).
While there’s likely still a long way to go before Indiana Jones 5 takes a form worthy of our genuine confidence, we can at least say of this latest report: not bad!
Featured Image: Lucasfilm