We’ve all done it before. We’ve all looked at a fictional character and thought, I’d like to be him or I wish I had her life. Guys, maybe you wanted to be Batman or Jason Bourne. Ladies, you’ve may have dreamed of being Hermione Granger or Elizabeth Bennet. Me? In the past, I wouldn’t have minded being Indiana Jones. He’s handsome, clever, resourceful, and brave. He has an awesome outfit, a cushy professorial position with as much vacation time as he wants, an endless flow of attractive ladies attracted to him, and a new adventure every year.
But now? No thanks. I’ve seen the light, and it has nothing to do with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The fact is, in the original trilogy, Indy’s life is a stressed-out mess. Don’t believe me?
Think about it…
Indy may be a tough guy, but he was a kid once, and it wasn’t a happy childhood. Sure, in the series The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, the whole family goes on these grand adventures across the world, but it isn’t long before Indy’s mother dies. After that, Henry Jones Sr. shuts down, barely paying attention to his son and sinking even further into his search for the Holy Grail. Indy basically grew up as an orphan, only worse: he had a father who made him feel like an orphan or, at best, unimportant. Gotta say, I’m grateful to have the parents I have, because I sure don’t want Indy’s.
This lonely life doesn’t change much by the time Indy grows up. Sure, he’s made some friends, like Marcus, Sallah, and Short Round. But when it comes to female companionship, Dr. Jones suffers from quantity over quality. Marion Ravenwood is really his best relationship, and that one left them both scarred for reasons that are never quite explained but sound pretty dark. His attraction to Willie is shallow and based purely on physical desires; not once does the woman do anything even remotely helpful or show any sign that she is someone worth caring for. And Elsa … well, romances with Nazis never end well. Especially when they end by dumping your romantic partner down into a bottomless chasm. Indy doesn’t have a problem bringing the ladies in, but if you can’t hold onto one, what’s the point?
Relationship issues aren’t Indy’s only problem. The archaeologist has to be in a constant state of spiritual chaos. It seems as though every discovery he makes proves the existence of some deity or other. The Ark of the Covenant proves that the Hebrew God exists. Then the Holy Grail proves that He had a Son named Jesus Christ. Okay, so far it doesn’t break down. But what about the Sankara Stones? They prove the existence of the Hindu god Shiva. The heart-rending (sorry, couldn’t resist) sacrifice in which Mola Ram engages seems to suggest that Kali is real as well. And if these two exist, why not the other innumerable Hindu gods? What’s more, Mola Ram briefly mentions the Muslims, the Hebrew God, and the Christian God all in the same line of thought. It’s not proof positive, but what if Allah exists in this universe too? How does Indy reconcile all these religions in his head? Whose morals are right? What does the afterlife look like? A conflicted spiritual life is just one more stress on this already stressed-out professor.
Let’s not forget, the man also has to take care of his students. That means grading papers and tests, listening to endless complaints and excuses, and lots of time spent sitting in a crowded office. Dr. Jones returns from his journey to find the Lost Ark, let’s say. He’s been beaten within an inch of his life multiple times, he’s encountered a spiritual power beyond his understanding, and he’s been on emotional bumper cars (dodgems for my friends across the pond) with Marion. As soon as he steps onto campus, he’s charged by two dozen college students all clamoring for him to solve their problems now. Is it any wonder the man ducks out his office window rather than face a mob of angry students? Is it any wonder he takes so much time off for great adventures?
But even then, Indy’s adventures aren’t all that great. He suffers harsh climates, from the blizzards of Nepal to the scorching sun of Egypt to the mosquito-infested jungles of South America. No doubt he has to deal with disease, pickpockets, and all the other wonderful things travelers have to encounter. Then, of course, everything and everyone is trying to kill him, from booby traps to Nazis and from mob bosses to his own partners. And let’s not forget the snakes. As much time as Indy spends in the jungle, he has to come across his worst fear on a regular basis. He gets chased by boulders, dropped out of planes, dragged behind trucks, driven over cliffs, punched, kicked, shot, and force-fed the Blood of Kali. It’s actually amazing he’s as spry as he is in Crystal Skull, considering most football players are “old” by their mid-thirties. As Indy said, “It’s not the years, honey; it’s the mileage.”
Do I love Indiana Jones? Absolutely. He’s probably my favorite film character of all time. Do I want him on my side in a fight? Oh, yes. Even if we weren’t fighting Nazis, I wouldn’t mind going with him to a café somewhere and talking about his adventures. Do I want to be him? Not one bit. Indy’s got too many major problems for me to ever want to trade places with him. I’ve got senior projects and he’s got Hitler’s armies. I think I’m happy where I am.
The Indiana Jones movies are owned by Paramount.