Indiana Jones

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Films

Indiana Jones character
Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr
Created by George Lucas
First appearance Raiders of the Lost Ark
Portrayed by Films:
Harrison Ford (ages 36-58)
River Phoenix (age 13)
TV Series:
Corey Carrier (ages 8-10)
Sean Patrick Flanery (ages 16-21)
George Hall (age 93)
Video games:
Doug Lee (voice)
David Esch (voice)

Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., better known as Indiana Jones or Indy, is a fictional adventurer, professor of history and archaeology, and the main protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise. George Lucas created the character in homage to the action heroes of 1930s serial films. Indiana Jones first appeared in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles from 1992 to 1996, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. In addition to his film and television appearances, the character has been featured in novels, comics, video games, and other media. The character is also featured in the theme park attraction Indiana Jones Adventure, which exists in similar forms at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

The character is most famously played by Harrison Ford. He has also been portrayed by River Phoenix (as the young Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), and in the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles by Corey Carrier, Sean Patrick Flanery, and George Hall. Doug Lee has supplied Jones's voice to two LucasArts video games, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, while David Esch supplied his voice to Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb. Tom Selleck was originally cast in the role, however due to commitments to Magnum PI, Selleck was replaced by Ford. The character's iconic outfit was designed by Jim Steranko. Jones is notable for his bullwhip, fedora, leather jacket, and fear of snakes.


Since his introduction in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark (later retitled on VHS and DVD box covers as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), he has made appearances in three more feature films, a two-season TV series, novels, comic books, video games, role-playing games, and even his own amusement park rides.

Feature films

Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, was first introduced in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, set in 1936. He is portrayed as an adventurous throwback to the 1930s film serial treasure hunters and pulp action heroes, with an alter ego of Doctor Jones, a respected archaeologist at Marshall College - a fictional college in Connecticut. In this first adventure, he is pitted against the Nazis, traveling the world to prevent them from recovering the Ark of the Covenant (see also Biblical archaeology). The Nazis are led by Jones's archrival, a Nazi-sympathizing French archaeologist named René Belloq, and Arnold Toht, a sinister Gestapo agent.

The 1984 prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, set in 1935, took the character into a more horror-oriented story, skipping his legitimate teaching job and globe trotting, and taking place almost entirely in India. This time, Jones attempts to recover children and a Sankara stone from the bloodthirsty Thuggee cult.

The third film, 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, set in 1938, returned to the formula of the original, reintroducing characters such as Sallah and Marcus Brody, a scene from Professor Jones's classroom (he now teaches at Barnett College), the globe trotting element of multiple locations, and the return of the infamous Nazi mystics, this time trying to find the Holy Grail. The film's introduction, set in 1912, provided some back story to the character, specifically his fear of snakes, his use of a bullwhip, the origin of the scar on his chin, and the source of his fedora hat, as well as his father. Although Lucas intended at the time to do five films, this ended up being the last for over eighteen years, as Lucas could not think of a good MacGuffin to drive the next installment.

The fourth film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, became the latest installment of the series on May 22, 2008. Set in 1957, 19 years after the third film, it pits an older, wiser Indiana Jones against Soviet agents bent on harnessing the power of an ancient artifact. Again, viewers visit the common theme of "nefarious villains obsessed with the paranormal". In this installment, the plot revolves around a mysterious crystal skull that is discovered in South America by Harold Oxley ( John Hurt), a colleague of Professor Jones. He is aided in his adventure by an old lover, Marion Ravenwood ( Karen Allen), and a young greaser named Mutt Williams ( Shia LaBeouf).


From 1992 to 1996, George Lucas executive produced a television series named The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles designed as an educational program for children, spotlighting historical figures and important events, using the concept of a prequel to the films as a draw. The show featured a standard formula of a 93-year-old Jones ( George Hall), wearing an eye patch, introducing a story, and then an adventure with either a 17-year-old Jones ( Sean Patrick Flanery) or a 10-year-old Jones ( Corey Carrier), and even a baby indy ( Neil Boulane). Historical figures featured on the show include Leo Tolstoy, Pancho Villa, Charles de Gaulle, and John Ford, in such diverse locations as Egypt, Austria-Hungary, India, China, and the whole of Europe.

One episode, "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues", is bookended by Harrison Ford, reprising his role as the character. Indiana loses one of his eyes sometime between this episode and when the "Old Indy" segments take place.

The show provided some backstory for the films, as well as new information regarding the character. He was born July 1, 1899, and his middle name is Walton, Lucas's middle name. It is also mentioned that he had a sister called Suzie who died as an infant of fever. His relationship with his father, first introduced in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, was further fleshed out with stories about his travels with his father as a young boy. A large portion of the series centered around his activities during World War I.

In 1999, Lucas removed the episode introductions and epilogues by George Hall when he released a VHS collection of the series, and they have been omitted from the DVD releases as well.

Video games

The character has appeared in several officially licensed video games, beginning with adaptations of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and two adaptations of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade—one with purely action mechanics, one with an adventure and puzzle based structure.

Following this, the games branched off into original storylines with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, and Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, which sets up Jones's companion Wu Han and the search for Nurhaci's ashes seen at the beginning of Temple of Doom. The first two games were developed by Hal Barwood and starred Doug Lee as the voice of Indiana Jones, while Emperor's Tomb had David Esch fill the role. There is also a small game from Lucas Arts Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures. A video game was made for young Indy called Young Indiana Jones and the Instruments of Chaos, as well as a video game version of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

A new Indiana Jones video game is in development by LucasArts.

Another game, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures was released on June 3, 2008 in the US.

Theme parks

The Indiana Jones Adventure attractions at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea ("Temple of the Forbidden Eye" and "Temple of the Crystal Skull", respectively) place Indy at the forefront of two similar archaeological discoveries. These two temples each contain a wrathful deity who threatens the guests who ride through in World War II troop transports. They opened in 1995 and 2001, respectively, and each was an expensive project by Walt Disney Imagineering. Disney ended up not gaining rights to Harrison Ford's likeness, but the Indiana Jones character does appear in audio-animatronic form at three points in both attractions.

Disneyland Resort Paris also features an Indiana Jones ride where people speed off through ancient ruins in a runaway wagon similar to that found in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This roller-coaster is known as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril.

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! is an amusement show in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort. The show has various different stunts, and recruits members of the audience to partake in the show. The show is 25 minutes long. In the show, the stunt artists reveal some of the secrets of the stunts behind Raiders of the Lost Ark, including the well-known running-from-the-boulder scene from early in the film.


In his guise as a college professor, Henry Jones Junior is an average Joe, who can also rise to the occasion in the guise of "Indiana", a superhero image he has concocted for himself. Producer Frank Marshall said, "Indy [is] a fallible character. He makes mistakes and gets hurt. [...] That's the other thing people like: He's a real character, not a character with superpowers." Spielberg said there "was the willingness to allow our leading man to get hurt and to express his pain and to get his mad out and to take pratfalls and sometimes be the butt of his own jokes. I mean, Indiana Jones is not a perfect hero, and his imperfections, I think, make the audience feel that, with a little more exercise and a little more courage, they could be just like him." According to Spielberg biographer Douglas Brode, Indiana is a childish man who created his heroic figure so to escape the dullness of teaching at a school. Both of Indiana's personas reject one another in philosophy, creating a duality. Harrison Ford said the fun of playing the character was because Indiana is both a romantic and a cynic, while scholars have analyzed Indiana as having traits of a lone wolf; a man on a quest; a noble treasure hunter; a hardboiled detective; a human superhero; and an American patriot.

Like many characters in his films, Jones has some autobiographical elements of Spielberg. Indiana lacks a proper father figure because of his strained relationship with his father, Henry Senior. His own contained anger is misdirected at the likes of Professor Abner Ravenwood, his mentor at the University of Chicago, leading to a strained relationship with Marion Ravenwood. The teenage Indiana bases his own look on a figure from the prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, after being given his hat. Marcus Brody acts as Indiana's positive role model at the college. Indiana's own insecurities are made worse by the absence of his mother. In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the character becomes the father in a temporary family unit with Willie Scott and Short Round to survive. Indiana is rescued from the evil of Kali by Short Round's dedication. Indiana also saves many children from slavery.

Because of Indiana's strained relationship with his father, a Christian searching for the Holy Grail, the character rejects the spiritual side of the profession he has followed in. The inconsistency of the three films is that after appearing to become a believer in Judaism (in Raiders), Hinduism (in Doom) and Christianity (Crusade), Indiana reverts back in the next film. Temple of Doom, chronologically the earliest of the films, has Indiana as a mercenary, searching for "fortune and glory". Indiana uses his knowledge of Shiva to ultimately defeat Mola Ram. In Raiders, the cynical Indiana chooses to close his eyes in the presence of the spirits who have been disturbed from their slumber in the Ark of the Covenant. By contrast, his rival Rene Belloq is killed for trying to communicate directly with God.

In Crusade's prologue, Indiana's intentions are revealed as social, as he believes artifacts "belong in a museum". In the film's climax, Indiana undergoes "literal" tests of faith to retrieve the Grail and save his father's life. He also recognizes Jesus as a humble carpenter when he recognizes the simple nature and tarnished appearance of the real Grail amongst a large assortment of much more ornately decorated ones. Henry Senior rescues his son from falling to his death when reaching for the fallen Grail, telling him to "let it go", overcoming his mercenary nature. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles explains how Indiana becomes solitary and less idealistic after fighting in World War I. In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Jones is older and wiser, whereas his sidekicks Mutt and Mac are youthfully arrogant and greedy, respectively.

Concept and creation

Indiana Jones is modeled after the strong-jawed heroes of the matinée serials and pulp magazines that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg enjoyed in their childhoods (such as the Republic Pictures serials, and the Doc Savage series). The two friends first discussed the project in Hawaii around the time of the release of the first Star Wars film. Spielberg told Lucas how he wanted his next project to be something fun, like perhaps a James Bond film. According to sources, Lucas responded to the effect that he had something "even better", or that he "got that beat".

The character was originally named Indiana Smith, after an Alaskan Malamute Lucas owned in the 1970s ("Indiana"); however, Spielberg disliked the name "Smith", and Lucas casually suggested "Jones" as an alternative.

Wardrobe and equipment

Indiana Jones was designed by comic book artist Jim Steranko. George Lucas suggested the flight jacket (which reminded Steranko of Lucas), the fedora (which reminded him of Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) and a whip (reminiscent of Zorro). Steranko added the Sam Browne belt, a belt with a holster, and the khaki shirt and trousers. Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis said the inspiration for Indiana's outfit was Charlton Heston's Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas: "We did watch this film together as a crew several times, and I always thought it strange that the filmmakers did not credit it later as the inspiration for the series."

Upon requests by Spielberg and Lucas, the costume designer gave the character a distinctive silhouette through the styling of the hat; after examining many hats, the designers chose a tall-crowned, wide-brimmed fedora. As a documentary of Raiders pointed out, the hat served a practical purpose. Following the lead of the old "B"-movies that inspired the Indiana Jones series, the fedora hid the actor's face sufficiently to allow doubles to perform the more dangerous stunts seamlessly. Examples in Raiders include the wider-angle shot of Indy and Marion crashing a statue through a wall, and Indy sliding under a fast-moving vehicle from front to back. Thus it was necessary for the hat to stay in place much of the time.

The hat became so iconic that the filmmakers could only come up with very good reasons or jokes to remove it. If it ever fell off during a take, filming would have to stop to put it back on. In jest, Ford put a stapler against his head when a documentary crew visited during shooting of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This created the urban legend that Ford stapled the hat to his head. Although other hats were also used throughout the movies, the general style and profile remained the same. Elements of the outfit include:

  • The fedora - made by Herbert Johnson Hatters in England for the first three films. Indy's fedoras for "Crystal Skull" were made by Steve Delk and Marc Kitter of AdventureBilt Hat Company. Baron hats created the 50's style biker cap worn by Shia Lebeouf as Mutt Williams in Indy 4.
  • The leather jacket - a hybrid of the "Type 440" and the A-2 jacket, were made by Wested Leather for Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, jackets were made by Cooper, while Tony Nowak made the jacket in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • The bag - a modified Mark VII British gas mask bag
  • The whip - a 10-foot bullwhip crafted by David Morgan (although different lengths were used in specific stunts)
  • The pistol - usually a World War I-era revolver, examples include the Webley Green (Last Crusade and Crystal Skull), or a .45 ACP Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector 2nd model revolver (Raiders). He has also been seen using an M1917 revolver, and a 9mm Browning Hi-Power.
  • The shoes - "Indy Boots" made by Alden Shoes, which are still sold today (though in a lighter shade of brown than seen in the movies)

Jones's fedora and leather jacket (as used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) are on display at the Smithsonian's American History Museum in Washington, D.C. The collection of props and clothing from the films has become a thriving hobby for some aficionados of the franchise. Jones's whip was the third most popular film weapon, as shown by a 2008 poll held by 20th Century Fox, which surveyed approximately two thousand film fans.


Originally, Spielberg suggested Harrison Ford; Lucas resisted the idea, since he had already cast the actor in three of his movies ( American Graffiti, Star Wars, and its sequels), and did not want Ford to become known as his "Bobby De Niro" (in reference to the fact that fellow director Martin Scorsese regularly cast Robert De Niro in his films). During an intensive casting process, Lucas and Spielberg auditioned many actors, and finally cast then little-known actor Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones. Shortly afterward pre-production began in earnest on Raiders of the Lost Ark.

However, CBS refused to release Selleck from his contractual commitment to Magnum, P.I. (which was gradually gaining momentum in the ratings), forcing him to turn down the role. After Spielberg suggested Ford again, Lucas finally gave in, and he was cast in the role — less than 3 weeks before principal photography began.


Many people are said to be the real-life inspiration of the Indiana Jones character — although none of the following have been confirmed as inspirations by Lucas or Spielberg. In alphabetical order by last name:

  • Paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews.
  • Italian archaeologist and circus strongman Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823).
  • Yale University professor, historian, and explorer Hiram Bingham III, who rediscovered and excavated the lost city of Machu Picchu, and chronicled his find in the bestselling book The Lost City of the Incas in 1948.
  • The University of Chicago archaeologist Robert Braidwood.
  • Fellow University of Chicago archaeologist James Henry Breasted
  • Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges.'
  • German archaeologist Otto Rahn

George Lucas has said on various occasions that Sean Connery's portrayal of British secret agent James Bond was one of the primary inspirations for Jones, a reason Connery was chosen for the role of Indiana's father in the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


Though some archaeologists criticize Jones's methods as befitting a "looter" more than a careful worker of precious sites, many have adopted the popular figure as something of a standard-bearer for their profession. The industry magazine Archaeology, believing that Jones, as one editor said, was "a horrible archaeologist but a great diplomat for archeology," named eight past and current archaeologists who they felt "embodied [Jones'] spirit" as recipients of the "Indy Spirit Awards" in 2008. That same year Ford himself was elected to the Board of Directors of the Archaeological Institute of America. Commenting that "understanding the past can only help us in dealing with the present and the future", Ford was praised by the association's president for his character's "significant role in stimulating the public's interest in archaeological exploration."

Whilst himself an homage to various prior adventurers, aspects of Indiana Jones also directly influenced some subsequent characterizations:

  • Lara Croft, the self-styled archaeologist of the Tomb Raider franchise, was originally designed as a man, but was changed to a woman, partly because the developers felt that the original design was too similar to Indiana Jones.
  • Malcolm Reynolds, spaceship captain in television series Firefly and its feature film continuation Serenity ( Nathan Fillion reflects many of Harrison Ford's mannerisms).
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