Dial of Destiny: Will the Indy Finale Hold Up?

One of the most hotly anticipated film releases in 2023 is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The fifth installation in the film franchise is going to be the last of the series… at least, in terms of Harrison Ford’s depiction of the rugged archaeologist-hero. The stakes have never been higher—especially considering it’s the first film that won’t be directed by Steven Spielberg and written by George Lucas.

As the June 30 release date approaches, fans and critics are keeping an eye on trailers and other sneak peeks. Will the finale hold up as a fitting conclusion to the rockstar franchise? And what would happen if the Dial of Destiny failed to hold up to previous instalments? Let’s cover the biggest concerns below.

Closing Out the Indy Storyline

First, let’s review why Indiana Jones is a hero worthy of a compelling conclusion. It can’t be understated how fresh the idea of an archaeologist, bad-boy hero was when Lucas released 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Audiences hadn’t seen a hero who was equal parts intelligent and scholarly, rogueish and off-the-cuff, and wonderfully imperfect. The closest was James Bond (more on this below). 

For proof of Indy’s influence, look no further than the gaming industry. Following the film’s release, other Indy heroes began popping up. This includes Lara Croft, a tomb-raider, and Nathan Drake of Uncharted fame. Today, even slots, which represent a huge range of themes, reflect the action-adventure hero. Games like Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead and Cashzuma and the Tomb of Wonga call back to Indiana Jones.

In other words, he’s a pop culture icon that has deeply influenced Western entertainment, including filmmaking and gaming. His swan song needs to be treated with care.

Notes from No Time to Die

While it might sound like a massive (almost impossible) undertaking to sign off on Indiana Jones, it’s been done before… at least, sort of. The recent 2021 release of No Time to Die was the final goodbye from Daniel Craig’s James Bond—which also seemed to open up a future for a new type of Bond hero. 

The flick was nominated for three Academy Awards and remains the third-highest-grossing film in UK history. While it’s no easy feat, crafting a meaningful goodbye from Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones isn’t impossible. But with time travel hinted at and plenty of young Indy flashbacks in the trailer, it’s too soon to predict how writers and producers plan on saying farewell.

Realism in an HEA & Leaving a Loose End

Everyone wants a Happily Ever After. That HEA is becoming an increasingly important part of storytelling for audiences, who are worn out by a pessimistic world. In No Time to Die, Bond dies for a higher cause, closing out his storyline in a heart-wrenching but meaningful way—and possibly paving the way for a future Ms. Bond should his daughter take up the gauntlet someday.

This leaves two major possibilities for the Dial of Destiny. First is the possibility that Indiana Jones dies. The series ends with his death, tying a neat bow atop what is nearly a 50-year film franchise. Though Indy’s death would be heartbreaking for audiences, it could be handled well and with great care, like Craig’s Bond. For many, this is the only solution available for the fifth film.

But that doesn’t mean audiences will have seen the end of Indiana Jones—even if he dies on-screen. In other words, many fans will be keeping a lookout for loose ends that could signal a future reboot. While many speculated that Shia LaBeouf was in the running to become the next Indy, the fourth film fell flat, leaving audiences unenthused about potential recastings. 

However, that might not be the case with this final installation. Will filmmakers leave us a potential successor to Indy? And what would that look like—perpetual reboots like with James Bond or the introduction of a new hero who takes after Indiana Jones?