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SYFY WIRE Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

'Indiana Jones 5' confirms 1960s setting & Nazi villains; will de-age Harrison Ford for opening

Nazis... why did it have to be Nazis?

By Josh Weiss
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

When Professor Henry Jones Jr. returns to the big screen next summer, he'll once again find himself at odds with a familiar foe: Nazis. Per the forthcoming issue of Empire Magazine (on sale this Thursday), Harrison Ford's fedora-wearing and whip-cracking hero will battle former zealots of the Third Reich in the summer of 1969 — against the backdrop of the Apollo 11 moon landing. How are the goose-stepping baddies still wreaking havoc more than two decades after the conclusion of World War II?

The answer is quite simple: they're the Hitler-doting scientists the United States government recruited via the clandestine program known as Operation Paperclip. While many war criminals escaped justice by fleeing to the non-extradition countries of South America, hundreds of others were offered juicy military contracts, full citizenship, and a white-washing of their Holocaust atrocities if they agreed to help America further its scientific arsenal for the coming Cold War against the Soviet Union. Yeah, that actually happened. Just imagine Indy's furor when he learns that his own country gave asylum to the evil fascists he battled for two movies.

"The simple fact is that the moon-landing program was run by a bunch of ex-Nazis," Indiana Jones 5 co-screenwriter Jez Butterworth explained. "How ‘ex’ they are is the question. And it gets up Indy’s nose…"

Mads Mikkelsen (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) leads the villainous bunch as Voller, a former Nazi egghead now working on behalf of NASA. “He’s a man who would like to correct some of the mistakes of the past,” Mikkelsen teased, hinting at another feverish race to a mystery artifact (fitting, given the Space Race setting). “There is something that could make the world a much better place to live in. He would love to get his hands on it. Indiana Jones wants to get his hands on it as well. And so, we have a story.” 

While this could just be a coincidence, it is worth noting that there was an antagonist named Magnus Voller in the 2009 video game, Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, which revolved around a search for the fabled staff Moses used to part the Red Sea.

You can check out Voller (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ronald Lacey Toht from Raiders) in the tweet below:

The deplorable character was based on real-world figure, Wernher von Braun, the notorious rocket scientist who spearheaded the creation of Germany's V-2 missiles during WWII before turning his expertise over to the American space program.

His propulsion know-how led to the conception of the Saturn V rocket that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon over five decades ago. And while von Braun was hailed as a scientific visionary, there's no getting around the fact that his hands were soaked with the blood of concentration camp slaves used to build the rockets he delivered to Adolf Hitler on a regular basis.

What Voller and his "lapdog" Klaber (played by Boyd Holbrook) are after remains to be seen, although some fan theories point to Die Glock, a bell-shaped device capable of time travel that was said to be developed by the Nazis. If true, this MacGuffin would deliver some chilling stakes: Voller wants to travel back in time and change the outcome of WWII, so the so-called "Master Race" comes out on top.

Again, nothing's confirmed on the artifact front, although we do know the fifth installment will turn the clock back to 1944 for its swashbuckling prologue inside "a castle swarming with Nazis," reports Empire. If we had to guess, we'd say the curtain-raiser will be to establish an existing rivalry with Voller as Indy thwarts yet another plot to steer the conflict in Germany's favor.

“I wanted the chance to dive into this kind of full-on George-and-Steven old picture and give the audience an adrenaline blast," said director James Mangold (Logan), who is the first filmmaker to helm an Indiana Jones film outside of Steven Spielberg. For this throwback, Ford needed to be digitally de-aged with pioneering software developed by the talented VFX wizards at Industrial Light & Magic. To complete the illusion, the production broke the original leather jacket from Raiders out of retirement.  

“My hope is that, although it will be talked about in terms of technology, you just watch it and go, ‘Oh my God, they just found footage. This was a thing they shot 40 years ago’,” said producer and Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy. “We’re dropping you into an adventure, something Indy is looking for, and instantly you have that feeling, ‘I’m in an Indiana Jones movie.’”

Ford, who has seen the finished product, asserted that this is the first instance of digital de-aging that actually looks authentic without veering into the uncanny valley. "It’s a little spooky," he admitted. "I don’t think I even want to know how it works, but it works.”

Indiana Jones 5 (we're still waiting on an official title) arrives in theaters everywhere on June 30, 2023.

Want to see Harrison Ford kick ass and take names in the meantime? Air Force One is now streaming on Peacock.