Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a pretty solid entry in the adventure franchise that keeps finding new life. It puts Dr. Henry Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) on one last quest to find an ancient artifact with untold powers with worldwide evil on his tail. Aside from proving that every odd-numbered Indy movie has to have Nazis, it gave our favorite archaeologist a fitting ending to his now-42-year cinematic journey. But here’s the thing: aside from the Nazi part, they did the same thing 15 years ago.
If you recall, in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, while fighting Soviets to get at a transdimensional being’s skull, Indiana Jones meets his son, Mutt, and reconnects with Marion Ravenwood, his long-lost love. So why, then, is Indy alone and sad at the beginning of The Dial of Destiny?
We learn through the course of the movie that Mutt has died. He enlisted (presumably to go fight in the early days of the Vietnam War) and was killed in action. The grief of this loss drove a wedge between Indy and Marion and she eventually moved out. Indy subsequently has to deal with his own grief through the adventure, chasing Helena around the globe.
What, then, was the point of the happy ending in the last movie? Why so quick to so tragically removed before the next? Naturally, we have some real-world issues pertaining to members of cast which I won’t get in to here. But even if Mutt wasn’t going to be in the movie, did they have to bring Dr. Jones to such a low point? And, though nice to see him reconcile with Marion at the very end of Dial, it’s just a shorter, less impactful version of what happened in Skull. It’s bittersweet rather than regular sweet.
I think Dial of Destiny is a better movie than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. However, it also cheapens what is otherwise a very positive moment from the earlier movie. I wish they had not done that. Killing characters or breaking up relationships off-screen is too easy. I’m all for heartstring-pulling, but this was a sour note in an otherwise enjoyable movie.