Indiana Jones 4 Writer Admits One Aspect Of Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull He Was ‘Never Happy With’

Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winston, Karen Allen and John Hurt in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Since we’re a little under a year away from Indiana Jones 5 finally hitting theaters after multiple delays and setbacks, many fans of the franchise will be looking back on the past entries in preparation for the upcoming movie, including the polarizing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While the 2008 movie earned many positive reviews from professional critics, public reception was decidedly more mixed, with one of the most critiqued aspects of the fourth Indiana Jones movie being the inclusion of aliens. As it turns out, David Koepp, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s screenwriter, was never on board with 

David Koepp, whose other major credits include the first two Jurassic Park movies, Carlito’s Way and Spider-Man, stopped by the Script Apart podcast to primarily talk about his work on the first Mission: Impossible movie. But towards the end of the episode, Koepp briefly addressed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull while discussing the “failures” of his career, saying:

I was never happy with the idea [of aliens]. When I came on, I tried to convince [Steven Spielberg and George Lucas] to change it — I had this other idea. They didn't want to change it. I'm not saying mine would've been better. But I think that a lot of the pushback that movie got in a larger sense aside from little things people might not have liked, — that were too silly or whatever — the larger one was [fans said], 'We don't feel like aliens should've been in an Indiana Jones movie.' Fair enough, in retrospect, you're probably right [laughs].

While the first three Indiana Jones movies delved into religious/mystical territory with the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Sankara Stones in The Temple of Doom and the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull went down a sci-fi path. It was revealed that the crystal skull the story was based around belong to the skeleton of an alien life form that boasted psychic powers, though they came from a different dimension rather than another planet in our reality. Upon the skull being returned to the rest of its body alongside 12 other alien skeletons, their flying saucer within the temple where they’d rested for who knows how long took off, and these reanimated aliens departed to another dimension.

As David Koepp implied, it was director Steven Spielberg and co-creator George Lucas to toss out the alien element of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Koepp didn’t share what he wanted to do instead, but considering that Lucas, who crafted Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s story with Jeff Nathanson, had been keen on telling an alien-centric Indiana Jones 4 since the early ‘90s, it’s no wonder this movie turned out the way it did. Admittedly, there were other elements of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that earned criticism, including Shia LaBeouf as Indy’s son “Mutt” Williams, but as far as the alien aspect goes, Koepp acknowledged that this wasn’t the best creative direction.

Wherever you fall on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we can all see what the James Mangold-directed Indiana Jones 5 has in store when it comes out on June 30, 2023. Plot details are still being kept secret, but Harrison Ford is joined in the cast by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Kretschmann, Boyd Holbrook, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and Olivier Richters.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.