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Taking over for one of the most beloved directors all time for one of the most beloved franchises of all time can't be an easy task. But it's exactly the position James Mangold (Logan, Ford v Ferrari) found himself in when Lucasfilm tapped him for the currently-untitled fifth (and most likely final) chapter in the saga of pop culture's favorite archaeologist/adventurer/college teacher — Indiana Jones.
While Steven Spielberg opted not to return as director, he did remain on board as an executive producer, regularly offering up the wisdom he gained making the first four movies with Harrison Ford. "Steven said to me, It's a movie that's a trailer from beginning to end — always be moving,'" Mangold recalled to Empire for the magazine's January 2023 issue (now on sale).
"It was something Harrison very, very much wanted to do," said Lucasfilm head honcho and Indiana Jones 5 producer, Kathleen Kennedy. "Steven was kind of off and on about it. But we all felt that if we could conclude the series with one more movie, give the fact that Harrison was so excited to try to do another one, we should do it."
Also speaking with the magazine, Ford shot down the claim that he was the sole driving force behind the movie. "I didn't feel it was necessary to do another," he admitted. "I just thought it would be nice to see one where Indiana Jones was at the end of his journey. If the script came along that I felt gave me a way to extend the character."
Set against the Cold War-era Space Race in 1969, the film finds Professor Henry Jones. Jr., PhD on the verge of retirement. Long gone are the halcyon days when the students of Marshall College would hang on his every word and blush over his rugged good looks. "In our lecture, all the women aren't going to be writing 'I love you' on their eyelids," Mangold said. "They're going be blowing bubbles and looking out the window."
With men landing on the moon and an un-winnable war raging in Southeast Asia, Jones barely recognizes the world anymore. In other words, he's become one of the relics he so often goes searching for. "Everything's changed," Ford continued. "And not insignificantly, it is the end of his academic career, which leaves him open for other opportunities, or mischief."
Specific plot details are being kept under wraps, although it was recently confirmed that the fedora-wearing hero will team up with his goddaughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who described the character as "a mystery and a wonder"), and battle Nazis (we hate these guys) for control of an as-yet-unknown MacGuffin of terrible power.
Mads Mikkelsen (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) plays the role of Voller, a former member of the Third Reich recruited by the U.S. government via Operation Paperclip. He turned his scientistic know-how over to NASA after World War II, helping America's space program become a rousing success, but hasn't given up Hitler's dream of a world dominated by the so-called Master Race. Whatever the central artifact turns out to be, one thing is for sure: Voller and his sycophant Klaber (Boyd Holbrook) must not be allowed to get their grubby hands on it.
Another newcomer to the series is Shaunette Renée Wilson (Black Panther) as Mason, a government agent who eventually crosses paths with Indy and Helena. "Think about during the '60s when the CIA and FBI were recruiting more Black people to get involved with undercover work, with the Black Panthers and all that stuff," Wilson explained. "And it's like, 'Who is this old guy running around, throwing things, jumping off stuff? What am I dealing with here?"
Wanting to truly capture the globe-trotting spirit of previous outings, Mangold vetoed suggestions that the production make use of the groundbreaking Volume technology pioneered by The Mandalorian. If something could be shot practically on location, then it was. To that end, filming took place all over this little blue marble we call home — from Glasgow, to Sicily, to Morocco. "Every type of vehicle. Every country. We have scenes that are recreating really iconic, giant events," promised producer Simon Emanuel.
Indiana Jones 5 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.