Image courtesy of (warning of naughty word in URL) this Lucasfilm-oriented Tumblr.

By now you’ve probably heard that Disney has acquired the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise. Admittedly, this is a bit like getting a really nice, classic car after someone has rammed it into a tree, but it’s not like Disney doesn’t have the cash to have some body work done. The question is, will they? I know some defended Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as being true to the old serials from whence Indy came, but I don’t completely buy that argument. Crystal Skull was a major shift in focus from supernatural fantasy to science fantasy. It’s as if Flash Gordon suddenly took time out from fighting Ming the Merciless to go have an adventure searching for King Solomon’s Mines. If someone in the future makes a movie series that’s based in 80′s TV, it’ll be just as silly if it starts out being about cops busting bad guys in New York, but it then has a sequel where the stars are now trying to close a gate to Hell in Missouri using a high-tech talking car.

For semi-complaining and my directives on this matter (as if Hollywood listens to me), hit the jump.

Since you’re not tired of hearing me rail on the last Indy film, I will say it did help point out what Disney needs to do if it wants the franchise to continue and not stink. Note: That’s not the same thing as continuing to be profitable, as the two concepts aren’t, unfortunately, tied together terribly tightly. Here’s my short list of what the last Indy movie taught us:

1. The bad guys should probably be Nazis. The Soviets were more of a hands-off adversary, at least compared to the fascists of WWII. Subtlety was far more optional when there was a war going on, and it made for a better place for a two-fisted adventurer to crack his bullwhip.

2. Stick with the magical macguffins. It doesn’t matter what culture the artifact comes from, the power behind it that melts faces or turns people into piles of dust should be powered by gods. I’d even settle for Cthulhu making a cameo, just so long as (warning: TV Tropes) it’s not aliens again.

3. New characters can’t all be old buddies. We had too many people Indy was supposed to be good pals with that we were supposed to then care about, including his son. At least for me, it didn’t work. This could possibly have been fixed with better writing, but it’s another jarring break from the previous films.

4. You’ll have to figure out how to do this without Harrison Ford at some point, guys. This franchise won’t be going away. It’s going to be rebooted, or at least recast, with someone younger taking over the fedora. The most likely way I could see that happening is via another Young Indiana Jones Chronicles with Ford narrating the adventures of a new actor playing his more youthful self. If that can be made to work, movies that don’t throw a new guy at audiences expecting him to stick might ensue.

This, of course, completely ignores the idea that Indiana Jones will be left intact. That’ll never happen to any major property unless it’s really tied to a specific era (something I’d argue that any attempts to remake Bill & Ted films would run into), and even then all bets are off. Maybe we’ll get a few good tales out of this since, like the Star Wars franchise, many would argue the narrative has nowhere to go but up after the most recent movie outings. However, the Indy movies are more closely tied to a single character that’s arguably one of the most iconic.