Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

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Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

Although it has simmered away quietly on the backburner of the popular discourse since LucasFilm was acquired by Disney in 2012, nothing much has really come of it in the years since.  We’ve gotten Star Wars movie after Star Wars movie for going on four years now.  Disney has laid out plan after plan for future sequels, prequels and spinoffs.  They’ve tried time and time again to make that franchise stick in the increasingly important Chinese market to no avail, and still they’ve remained quiet on this one, seemingly major subject that seems poised to be the next major story to ripple through Hollywood.

What, exactly, is Disney going to do with Indiana Jones?

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

That seems to be kind of a big deal, right?  The rights to that blockbuster franchise were tied up in the LucasFilm deal, same as Star Wars.  And like that other mega-popular series, it is one of the foundational cornerstones of the blockbuster era we’re currently living through.  And while the triple threat of Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977) and Superman (1978) cemented the blockbuster as THE blueprint for commercial filmmaking, Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s (1981) emergence a few years later set a new high water mark for pop entertainment that Disney just seems to be sitting on for the time being.

Granted, they’ve got a LOT on their plate already with reviving Star Wars.  Not only have they only now crossed the halfway point of their protracted passing of the torch from the original cast to a new generation of Jedi, Sith and interstellar soldiers.  They’re still working out all the bugs with their A Star Wars Story brand of spinoffs.  And, of course, there’s still the matter of China, a pillar of the modern box office that hasn’t quite taken to the operatic sci-fi series the way that it has to other blockbuster properties (it infamously pulled The Last Jedi (2017) after only two weeks in Chinese cinemas).

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

These things take time to accomplish, especially now that they’ve committed to annualizing the franchise, ensuring that we’ll have a steady stream of new sagas and side stories for the foreseeable future.  They’re also hard at work making sure that Marvel, Pixar and even their own self-branded film studios keep to the expected pace of big budget filmmaking.  And oh-so-very soon they’ll have to sort out what to do with Fox’s extensive catalog of highly marketable properties (include the Alien, Predator, Avatar, Kingsman, Planet of the Apes, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises).

That’s a lot to manage, even for an entertainment juggernaut like Disney.  It’s only natural that some things would get left on the backburner while they sort through the “important” things.  And yet… since when has Indiana Jones been a backburner property?

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

The fact of the matter that Indiana Jones is a billion dollar franchise: the same as any other Star Wars, Marvel or Disney Princess series.  It might not be the kind of thing that they can annualize like Marvel or Star Wars — after all, it’s really only about one guy when all is said and done — but it’s the kind of movie that they can roll out every couple of years and absolutely destroy any movie hapless enough to get paired up against it.

And looking over the franchise’s uneven history, the way to do that seems to be to nix Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) — and its uncomfortable implications that dear old Indiana is a statutory rapist — and only consider the first three movies — Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom (1984) and The Last Crusade (1989) — to be canon.  That leaves the franchise free to explore Indy’s Nazi (and presumably Commie) fighting days in the 1940s and 50s while also ignoring Shia LaBeouf’s involvement in the series (or the fact that Indiana apparently aged almost forty years in the in-universe blink of an eye).

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

And when it comes down to who should play this younger Indiana Jones, the choice to me seems pretty obvious.  Give it to the actor whose already proven more than capable to acting in Ford’s monolithic shadow, who can comfortably look and act the parts Harrison already tackled all those years ago.  Give the role to Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) headliner Alden Ehrenreich.

As I already mentioned in my review of his previous film, Ehrenreich is a shockingly adept actor who put a novel spin on a well-worn and iconic character.  He’s fun and playful in the same way Ford was in his younger days, but brings a freshness to the role that felt both in-line with the already established character and befitting a new interpretation of his younger self.  And with what a mess Solo‘s production proved to be, he can clearly roll with the punches and deliver on his end of the deal regardless of how many directors Disney needs to fire to get the movie they want.  What’s more is that he’d be cheap for the studio to snatch up now (before he works his way into any other major franchises from rival studios).

Should ‘Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich Play a Young Indiana Jones?

The Force Awakens (2015) proved that these movies don’t need to be perfect to rake in the cash: they just need to be good.  Episode VII had its issues, but ultimately proved to be a great action romp at the box office that that reminded us of the magic inherent in these films.  If Disney does as they’ve been doing with their other properties — putting the right talent in charge of the projects and gently guiding their production from the sidelines — there’s no reason why they can’t start work on a new Indiana Jones just as fast as they’re able.  I, for one, will be there opening night, popcorn and soft drink in hand.

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