Director Steven Spielberg has given us some of the most terrifying images in cinema history: the shark leaping out at a distracted Chief Brody in Jaws, velociraptors hunting Tim and Lex in Jurassic Park, and, of course, Mutt Williams reaching for his father’s hat in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. For a few spine-tingling seconds, viewers feared that maybe Spielberg and George Lucas would pass the whip from Harrison Ford to the decidedly less charismatic Shia LeBeouf.
Fortunately, it was not to be. Not only does Indy snatch the hat away from Mutt’s greaser hands, but the tepid response to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull assured that the Indiana Jones franchise would come to an end, at least for a while. But with Indy set to return for one last ride (again), many wonder/fear that Henry Jones Jr. would be bringing his fail-son with him.
For those people, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold has good news and bad news. First the good news: LeBeouf will not be donning his Marlon Brando cosplay to return as Mutt for Indy’s fifth outing. But there is bad news: Mangold and co-writers Jez and Jon-Henry Butterworth will not be ignoring him altogether.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Mangold promised that fans will “find out what happened” to Mutt (however, the article points out that the director “won’t say more”). In place of Mutt, Dial of Destiny pairs Indy with a different younger actor, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena. The daughter of a colleague (Marcus Brody?) and Indy’s goddaughter, Helena gets caught up in trouble that pulls the dashing archeology professor back into action. “She’s a character who’s a wonderful set of contradictions,” Mangold told EW. “Charming and brilliant, but also a lot of trouble.”
As the catalyst for Indy’s latest adventure, Helena will bring her godfather into a world markedly different from the World War II milieu of the original trilogy. After an opening sequence set in the 1930s, complete with a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford, most of the movie takes place in 1969. Mangold says the movie embraces the opportunities presented by the setting.
“I mean, 1969 is the beginning of now, really, in terms of technology and the space race,” the director explained. “So, you have Cold Wars, nuclear power, intrigue, the lack of clear good guys and bad guys.” Indy’s more simplistic sensibilities will clash with this complex world, creating new dramatic avenues. “We try to exploit that by jumping forward into 1969 to a hero who is used to a black and white world … in a world that has gone gray,” Mangold said of the creative team.
Although it remains to be seen if fans will be more charmed by Helena than they were by Mutt, Waller-Bridge’s work on Fleabag and Killing Eve has earned her more goodwill than was extended to LaBeouf. Of course, all that will likely go away if she dares to reach for Indy’s hat.