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SYFY WIRE Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny' artifact is rooted in ‘history and scientific speculation’

Are we talking sun dials, the brand of soap, or something else entirely?

By Josh Weiss
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

Whenever Lucasfilm announces its intention to make a new Indiana Jones film, one question immediately jumps to mind: What mystical artifact of great power will Professor Jones be searching for next? While we finally have a title for the swashbuckling hero's fifth big screen adventure, we're no closer to learning what the "Dial of Destiny" actually is. Are we talking about a fabled dial-like device capable of turning back the flow of time? Or is this actually a secret biopic about the founding of the Dial soap company?

James Mangold — the first director to helm an Indiana Jones adventure outside of the legendary Steven Spielberg (whose latest flick, The Fabelmans, is now available streaming) — certainly isn't telling. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly about Harrison Ford's whip-cracking swan song, the filmmaker maddeningly teased the movie's central MacGuffin in the vaguest terms possible. "Is there a relic in this movie that possesses a kind of power, or may possess a kind of power? And is it based on history and scientific speculation? Yes," was all Mangold could say without giving away too much of the plot.

All we know for certain is that the story takes place in 1969 and that Indy, now on the verge of academic retirement, will once again punch zealots of the Third Reich (Hitler's top scientists are now working on behalf of NASA) right in their stupid Nazi faces. For Mangold, the cultural turbulence of the late '60s felt like the perfect backdrop for an aging hero like Jones, who no longer recognizes a clear-cut divide between good and evil.

"I mean, 1969 is the beginning of now, really, in terms of technology and the space race," he explained. "So, you have Cold Wars, nuclear power, intrigue, the lack of clear good guys and bad guys. In the same way, you have to be really considerate about how you try and transpose a fairly simplistic kind of black-hat, white-hat sensibility into a period that is more complicated. We try to exploit that by jumping forward into 1969 to a hero who is used to a black and white world, [but finds himself] in a world that has gone gray."

He later continued: "I'm always interested in this idea of a hero at sunset. What does the hero do when the world no longer has a place for him? I find it really interesting to try to look at classical heroes through the prism of our jaundiced contemporary attitudes."

In addition to Ford, the movie also features the return of Raiders OG John Rhys-Davies as the fez-wearing Sallah. Newcomers to the franchise are Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Oliver Richters, Ethann Isidore, and Mads Mikkelsen. Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Simon Emanuel are producers. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas — who gave birth to the property all those years ago — serve as executive producers.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny swings into theaters Friday, June 30.

Hungry for more action and adventure? The Goonies, Jumanji, Battleship, and more are currently streaming on Peacock.