Indiana Jones Character In ‘The Dial Of Destiny,’ Explained

The iconic treasure hunter Indiana Jones, whose exploits have been synonymous with the word ‘adventure’ in mainstream pop culture, was the brainchild of the visionary trio of George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, and Steven Spielberg. The character was conceptualized with fictional pulp action heroes like Doc Savage in mind, along with rowdy characters from the 40s and 50s features starring Alan Ladd and Gregory Peck. The character was famously imbued with Spielberg’s personal touches, as the director tried to make him fallible, relatable, and grounded even though the adventures he embarked on were epic in proportion. Actor Harrison Ford, who had portrayed the character in all five movies, was so attached to the character that he famously stated that the character would be gone when he decided to retire from acting; there would be no continuation with other actors. Needless to say, handling a character of such importance in the final movie of the franchise, Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny, was an arduous task for James Mangold, who took over the role of director from Steven Spielberg in a franchise-first scenario. In order to assess how he fared, we will like to chart Indy’s final journey as shown in the movie.

Spoilers Ahead

A Broken Hero

In the movie Dial of Destiny, viewers get to see Indy in two different timelines, and in doing so, the director essentially presents two different versions of the character. In 1944, during the late phases of the Second World War, we saw the version of Indy we are most familiar with, the reckless, Nazi-punching, swashbuckling wisecracker, always curious about finding the next big mystery. Although a de-aged Harrison Ford looks sketchy during the flashback scenario, there was no doubt among fans that their favorite tomb-raider was once again back in action. The death-defying maneuvers and headstrong demeanor as Indy once again takes on the Nazis in a quest to return the antiquities ‘back to where they belong’ proved he is still in his prime. That changes drastically, as the present timeline of the movie opens in 1969, at the beginning of the second decade of the Space Age.

Twenty-five years have passed since Indy and Baz stopped the Nazi plunder train, and the world has changed a lot during that period. With the ongoing space war between the states and the Soviet Union reaching its peak, people of Indianapolis vocation are grossly neglected, as if the world has moved past the need to learn from its history. In his personal life, Indy has met with even more failure and loss as his family has left him too. His son, Mutt, with whom viewers were introduced in Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, had lost his life in the army, and unable to cope with the grief, Indy’s beloved wife, Marione, has left him. Indy’s close friend, Baz, went almost insane while being fixated upon a particular relic and later passed away, leaving Indy with a sense of guilt and the horrid feeling that he could have done more to save his life. As he is pushing 70, age has caught up with him too, and the mental agony has been assisted by the physical limitations. Gone are the days of youthful exuberance; Indy has become more reserved, bitter, and hopeless as the man who had dealt with time all his life has been feeling out of time himself. Totally in contrast with the grand adventures he had embarked on, life has treated him miserably, and it’s painful to see one’s childhood hero getting pinned down like that.

Almost A Dream Come True

Unlike the previous iterations, when he jumped at any chance of spoiling the fun of treacherous looters, Indy gets almost dragged back into the game of chase with the villainous Nazis while finding the Antikythera due to his goddaughter Helena’s intervention and once again goes on a globetrotting adventure. During his journey, Indy introspects for quite a while, and the feelings of dejection and regret are pretty apparent. While talking about the properties of Antikythera, which can presumably allow someone to travel through time, Helena asks Indy which particular period of a bygone era he would like to visit. A deeply remorseful Indy states that he would like to ask his son not to leave for the army and shares some more details about his miserable, lonely life. Later, after Helena’s teenage associate, Teddy, gets abducted, Indy assures her that the kid will be fine—perhaps because the boy was a reminder of his own young protégé, Short Round. However, even during the adventure, Indy’s suffering doesn’t seem to be over, as Jürgen Voller guns down his diver friend Renaldo. Coping with loss is a prominent theme of the movie, which the makers don’t allow the viewers to forget for a long time.

However, life has a strange way of offering solace when its the least expected, as Indy finds himself to be a part of history by going back in time. The Antikythera takes Indy, Helena, and Teddy back to its creator, Archimedes, and the trio find themselves witnessing the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC. Overwhelmed by the fact that he is living in the period he has studied his whole life, an injured Indy urges Helena to let him stay and spend his final moments there. There is nothing left for him to go back to in the present timeline However, Helena isn’t too keen on having this request of Indy fulfilled, as not only can his staying in the past lead to a time paradox, but she also believes Indy can have another shot at a time by returning to the present and therefore she takes him back forcibly.

What could be a more befitting ending for a scholar of antiquity like Indy than to have a chance to live his final moment as a part of history? Turns out, mending broken relationships with the person one loves most is worth more than that, as once again, due to Helena’s intervention, Indie and Marion get reunited in the present and reminisce about their most cherished memories. Director James Mangold took Indy on a journey much like Luke’s in the Star Wars sequel canon but at least allowed the legend to have some closure at the end. Even though the iconic fedora has been taken off for a final time, Indy and Marion have themselves at each other’s sides to survive in this new world a bit better.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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