Indiana Jones 5 Director James Mangold Shares The Key Challenge Dial Of Destiny Shares With Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in The Dial of Destiny
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

The original Indiana Jones trilogy was a staple of ‘80s cinema, with Raiders of the Lost Ark kicking things off in 1981, The Temple of Doom following in 1984 and The Last Crusade arriving in 1989. Then the polarizing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out in 2008, and in summer 2023, Harrison Ford’s tenure as Dr. Henry Jones Jr. will come to an end with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Although there’s 15 years separating those latter two movies, James Mangold, who inherited directing duties from Steven Spielberg for The Dial of Destiny, shared a key challenge this 2023 new movie release shares with its predecessor in the franchise.

Fresh off the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Super Bowl trailer’s premiere, THR has shared new comments from James Mangold about his next movie, which included discussing how, just like in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy is still having to cope with everything around him moving on. As Mangold explained:

The first three Indiana Jones movies took place in roughly the same period. They all easily fit with the serialized, theatrical, almost screwball-action style of the movies that were being released in the period they’re set in. The challenge for [director Steven Spielberg] on [Crystal Skull], and for me on this one, is: How do you move forward into new decades where the world is no longer seen in such clear demarcations of black and white and good and evil? Where the whole concept of raiding tombs and fighting over relics is looked at in a different way? It’s not about changing the story but allowing the character to experience how the world has changed around him.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

de-aged Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Cast: Harrison Ford, Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonion Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull took place in 1957, a time when the second Red Scare was still in full swing, and now The Dial of Destiny reunites us with Indy in 1969 against the backdrop of the Space Race. That’s a 12-year gap within the franchise’s timeline, which is a major leap over the events of the original Indiana Jones trilogy unfolding in the late 1930s. More importantly, society in the late 1960s looked a lot different than it did in three decades prior, and so as James Mangold explained, Indiana Jones is still having to navigate the changing times, especially when it comes to what his career entails. Furthermore, the distinction between good guy and bad guy isn’t as clear-cut as it was back in his younger years, like in the movie’s opening World War II-set sequence, which features a de-aged Harrison Ford.

Case in point, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s main antagonist, Mads Mikkelsen’s Jürgen Voller, is an ex-Nazi who was recruited by NASA to work on the Apollo moon landing program. To be clear, Voller is up to no good in this movie, but it just goes to show how there are more shades of grey at work during this time regarding alliances. These shades also apply to the people who are considered heroes in 1969, with astronauts being given such an honor over soldiers of fortune, as James Mangold pointed out. The filmmaker continued:

And our perception of politics is more gray. Who’s a villain? Who are we working with? Who are we fighting against? Proxy wars, all of that. It’s not as simple as the era around World War II. What happens to a hero built for a black-and-white world, when he finds himself in one that is gray? It’s a problem that produces humor, produces contradictions, produces adjustments that this character’s going have to make.

Although episodes of the TV show The Young Indiana Jone Chronicles were bookended by a nonagenarian, George Hall-played Indiana Jones dealing with everyday life in the ‘90s, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be our last glimpse of the character coming to terms with how much life has changed in the latter half of the 20th century. Sure, the franchise as a whole will continue in various ways, including Disney+ developing an Indiana Jones spinoff series, but unless the day comes that the reboot button is pressed, it’ll be bittersweet that this will be Indy’s final cinematic outing. Still, from what’s been shown over the last several months, his adventuring days look like they’ll end with a bang.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in theaters on June 30. While we wait for more news on what to expect from the feature, feel free to stream the first four Indiana Jones movies and The Young Indiana Jone Chronicles with your Paramount+ subscription.

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.