Shortly after Harrison Ford shared the exciting update that he’d finally be cracking the whip on the set of Indiana Jones 5 in April, a bomb was dropped. Steven Spielberg is no longer directing the movie anymore. This will mark the first time the legendary filmmaker will not head an Indy flick, but he’s reportedly still producing. So it’s time to put our best alternatives for directors on the table. Who could rise to the occasion and make Ford’s return to the fedora worthwhile?
Many fans are coming into Indiana Jones 5 with a certain weariness. 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t impress overall and it’s gone through a ton of script rewrites. So much so that the original writer David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, 2017’s The Mummy) left and returned to the screenplay to say “we’ve got a good idea this time”. Indiana Jones 5 needs a good director to lead its vision. The loss of Spielberg is a tough blow, but since he’s gone it could be a good opportunity for the franchise to do something different.
With the report of Steven Spielberg’s exit, it's said the director wanted to ”pass along Indy’s whip to a new generation to bring their perspective to the story”. James Mangold is reportedly in talks to take directing duties. This is a great choice already! Mangold is coming off a Best Picture nomination for Ford v. Ferrari and he’s the filmmaker behind Logan, Walk The Line and Girl, Interrupted. But if for some reason he doesn’t end up sticking to the high-profile project (he is developing The Force with Matt Damon and a Bob Dylan biopic with Timothée Chalamet), here’s some more ideas for Indiana Jones 5:
David F. Sandberg
One of the things on the checklist of Indiana Jones fans is a return to the ‘80s filmmaking Raiders of the Lost Ark was born from. Just when it feels like movies aren’t just made like they used to anymore something like David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! hits theaters. The DC film felt like a cross between Big and Superman and struck that unique balance between an action-adventure film being family-friendly and just fun. This is the kind of tone that could be perfect for Indiana Jones 5. Plus, Sandberg has a background in horror (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation) and some of the most fascinating elements of the franchise was when it leaned into that direction.
For a more gritty approach to Indiana Jones why not bring in Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow? The director has been making nail-biting action flicks for decades but has yet to put her name on a massive franchise. She’s the name behind 1991 classic Point Break, 2010 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. What’s interesting about a Bigelow Indiana Jones 5 is she’s been keyed into politics and war through her work. She won’t make a movie without it having something to say and that’s in the DNA of this franchise. Indy is a globetrotter and the artifacts he finds often have him entangled in government affairs and so forth, Bigelow’s voice could elevate Dr. Jones’ adventure in a completely fresh way.
If Lucasfilm is looking for a fresher face to helm Indiana Jones 5, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if they pulled from a director they’ve been working closely with lately on Star Wars: Deborah Chow. The up-and-coming filmmaker is set to helm the Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+ and she’s coming off lending her talents to a couple of the most impressive episodes of The Mandalorian. Prior to this, she has directed episodes of Mr. Robot, Jessica Jones and Better Call Saul. Kathleen Kennedy certainly sees something in Chow and it would be an awesome debut feature film for a female director to be given the keys to.
Along the same lines, Jon Favreau has been a pivotal pillar in Lucasfilm’s new era. The director led Star Wars to television with The Mandalorian and back in 2008 he helmed the first movie of the MCU, Iron Man. Sure, he’s in high demand, but if you look at The Mandalorian as a series, it’s very much influenced by the Indiana Jones movies. It’s been nice to see Jon Favreau move away from live-action Disney remakes with the Star Wars series and Indiana Jones 5 might be a good fit for him as well.
Along the same lines of Kathryn Bigelow as a choice, Sam Mendes has historically been a director who makes important films. Just a few months ago, many experts believed 1917 was poised to win Best Picture after all. Roger Deakins’ unbroken shots aside, what stood out about Mendes’ 1917 was its message about the tiredness of war. And as Indiana Jones grows older, fans might be looking for more depth in his adventures. Mendes also took over the Bond franchise for a while and produced some of the best of the franchise with Skyfall and Spectre.
It’s become clear over the years that Harrison Ford sticks with directors who he trusts and has worked together before. The actor probably signed on to Indiana Jones 5 to begin with because he wanted to work with Steven Spielberg again. Recently he talked about how he cameoed in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker because J.J. Abrams asked him to. Simple as that. Now that Spielberg is out, one would imagine Ford would jump at the opportunity to work with Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve. Although he has limited screen time, you could tell Ford really responded to the direction with his performance.
These are all hypothetical choices of course. Many of these directors are busy working on other projects and the latest reporting suggests James Mangold has the project in his hands. It’s tricky because the script for Indiana Jones 5 has been passed along for so long and it’s unclear whether Lucasfilm is aiming to stay on schedule for its July 9, 2021 release date. These choices don’t just put their name on any old thing.
What do you think? Which of these directors would you like to see behind Indiana Jones 5? Or do you have another filmmaker in mind? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll below.