In the past few weeks, talk about Indiana Jones 5 has reached an all time high since Harrison Ford has been busy doing press for Call Of The Wild. Plus, word on the street is James Mangold may be taking over for Steven Spielberg as director. As discussions about the franchise are back, it’s opening an old wound known as 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Over a decade later, the fourth Indy movie is still widely disliked, and fans are understandably worried about how and why the franchise should continue from an all-time low. But hey, don’t take it out on Shia LaBeouf.
Before you get stressed about seeing Mutt and his greaser hair again, know that the chances of Shia LaBeouf returning for Indiana Jones 5 are quite low. At one stage of the script-writing process back in 2017, David Koepp said the character would not be in the film. Over the years, Indiana Jones 5 has gone through quite a few rewrites and shuffled around its writers, but Koepp is one who came back onto the project last year to say “I think we’ve got a good idea this time.” Alright, that’s not the most confident words to hear from a creative, but it’s what we have.
So while Shia LaBeouf’s return to Indiana Jones isn't looking good right now, it’s not a half bad idea. Now that the franchise has got its “shocker!” lineage storyline out of the way in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a trope Lucasfilm is all too known for with Star Wars, having the actor return for the fifth movie could actually be a good idea. Let’s talk it through:
Shia LaBeouf Is A Better Choice Now To Join Indiana Jones Than He Used To Be
Let’s think back to 2008 for a moment, as Shia LaBeouf was in a very different place in his career. He was the golden boy of the Transformers franchise, star of Disturbia and Disney Channel breakout star. The actor was in his early 20s when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit theaters. At the time, it might have felt like the franchise was trying to fit a trendy actor into its thread in order to draw in a larger audience and pass off the hat and whip to the next generation. The storyline did revolve around Mutt finding out he was the son of Indiana Jones, and that’s part of what ticked off fans too.
But look at Shia LaBeouf now. The actor is coming off two incredible performances last year. He starred in The Peanut Butter Falcon and as his own father in his biographical drama, Honey Boy. LaBeouf has been spending the past few years on a very different path in Hollywood. He does smaller, independent projects that are performance based. He’s no longer the bright-eyed kid he was in 2008. He has an edge to him and the Indiana Jones franchise could use an ounce of edge.
If his character was handled less as the “next Indiana Jones” or a tired plot device, Mutt could be an interesting addition to Indiana Jones 5. Think about The Last Crusade for a minute. I go back and forth between Raiders and the third Indy film being my favorite. What worked great about The Last Crusade was it injected some heart into Harrison Ford’s character. Once he was with Sean Connery, their dynamic added an extra something-something to the franchise it needed.
The Weakest Points Of Crystal Skull Had Little To Do With Shia LaBeouf
You could certainly argue Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had a little too much heart and not enough exciting adventure. But that’s not Shia LaBeouf's fault. That script had a lot of problems in general! Remember when Mutt swung from the trees with a bunch of monkeys? That’s not something Shia LaBeouf as an actor had anything to do with. That was signed off by George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson, David Koepp, and yes, Steven Spielberg.
Now that Shia LaBeouf is in his 30s and has much more creative agency, having someone like him on board could actually help the franchise. There’s no way LaBeouf is signing up to be a peg in a larger machine, but if he could have something to do with it, things could get much more interesting. In order for Indiana Jones to survive as a franchise and not go down the roads Star Wars did, where its characters feel like they're more-so from a video game much of the time, Harrison Ford needs another person to play off between potentially his last adventure, and what's better than coming to terms with his son and family?
So You’re Cool With Indiana Jones Just Estranging His Son?
We’ve already seen another beloved Harrison Ford character estrange his son. His name was Kylo Ren, and SPOILER ALERT, it ended in both of their deaths. If Indiana Jones 5 just embraced Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s history instead of inevitably writing him out, it would certainly look better on the legendary character. I mean, do all our movie heroes need to be bad fathers? Come on.
Now the idea for Indiana Jones 5 is to just delete Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt and much of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because fans didn’t like it. Yet, it’s also been called a “continuation” by Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy. So if it’s going to be a continuation, then wouldn't Indy's wife Marion Ravenwood and Mutt be in it? They don’t need to be central characters in the movie, but for them to be important pegs in Indiana Jones’ life and then disappear would be strange. Oh, unless they’re just conveniently killed off? That might very well be what the Indiana Jones 5 filmmakers decide to do.
Since James Mangold has been reportedly lined up for Indiana Jones 5, I keep going back to the director’s work on Logan. The 2017 movie managed to wrap up Hugh Jackman’s two-decade journey as the character by changing up the storytelling lens and still implementing key characters from the rest of the franchise. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X was part of the story, but he was used in a completely different way. Shia LaBeouf could be a good addition to Indiana Jones’ story if the way he is used was just shifted a bit.
There’s a lot to think about here. I’ll turn it over to you. Would you like to see Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt return in Indiana Jones 5? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll.