A Grown up’s Guide to ‘Indiana Jones’

The Indiana Jones series is one that fans turn to time and time again to bring them joy and hope while exploring the wonderfully fun adventures that Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. gets to go on. From Stephen Spielberg and a story from George Lucas, the series kicked off with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and brought us into a world like no other.

But if you’re an adult and you’re trying to jump into the series now, you might want to know what to expect out of the movies and other properties in the world of Indy. So let’s go on a journey through the worst and best parts of the Indiana Jones franchise.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

While I am not the kind of person to hate on this movie because it isn’t as good as the other movies in the franchise, it is the weakest of the Indiana Jones movies and the world surrounding the franchise. Released in 2008, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull goes a bit too into the absurd and has Indiana Jones avoiding getting killed in a nuclear explosion by having him hide in a fridge so…take this movie with a grain of salt.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does feature my favorite trope which is a long-lost son the protagonist did not know he had but it isn’t that great. It just canonized my belief that Indiana and Marion Ravenwood were truly an OTP. So if you want to be a completionist, this is a fine movie there’s nothing horrible about it but it is far from the best movie in the world of Indiana Jones.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular scaled

Do live shows count? Yes because Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! in Hollywood Studios in Disney World rules. Essentially, you’re just watching a stunt man pretend to be Indiana Jones and he’s running around the set and showing you how Indy did some of his more daring stunts. Which yes, includes the famous run away from the boulder. It’s a reprise from standing in line all day long or fighting with your family over something and it’s Indiana Jones themed so what’s not to love?

I remember going to this as a kid and as someone who has been in love with Harrison Ford my entire life, I wanted to be picked for the show but I was too young and therefore have never felt the glory of being a part of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself. If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Image Credit: Disney Parks.

Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

For one year, the world was gifted with a series called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles that took us on a journey throughout Indiana Jones’ life where multiple actors played him and it had an older Indiana Jones and even featured Harrison Ford as a 50-year-old Indiana Jones. Which, given that the show came out in 1992, was just Harrison Ford playing the character at his actual age.

The show was short-lived and is, for the most part, harder to find complete (you can stream it on Paramount+ now but that is a new joy for us fans of Indiana Jones) but it is part of the lore for Indiana Jones as a whole. Is it wild and completely weird? Yes, and it isn’t exactly good but then again, most of us are here because we love Henry Jones Jr. so we’re ready to take in any content that is out there.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Indiana Jones Ride

Indiana Jones Ride

I am the kind of person who grew up for some time in California and when I would go to Disneyland, I would master the art of getting in line for the Indiana Jones ride at just the right time so I didn’t have that much of a wait. Why? Because no trip to Disneyland was complete unless I got to ride this absolute journey of a “rollercoaster.”

The ride is fairly simple: You walk through ruins to get to your jeep where you’re going through Indy’s journey to discover a treasure and it has all his greatest hits! Including his fear of snakes and (of course) him running from a giant boulder that you also think is going to murder you as you’re riding away in your car. It whips you around, it barely has anything to do with Indy other than having him narrate the journey, but it is a fun addition to this world so I’m counting it.

Image Credit: Disney Parks.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has not aged well. There are racist elements to it, it is a prequel that was released second but they barely explained that, and it doesn’t really make that much sense. But it is, unfortunately, the hottest that Harrison Ford has probably looked. A movie that features a character named Willie Scott (played by Kate Capshaw who is the wife of Stephen Spielberg) who is fine. Willie isn’t bad but she’s no Marion and that’s something that weighs heavily on her as a character if you’re watching them in order.

But the movie itself is messy, to say the least, but it is still a fun look at Indiana Jones as a character and that’s kind of all you want out of these movies. It's just a fun time seeing Harrison Ford get exasperated by everything while trying to be the best archeologist he can be.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Last Crusade is, in fact, my favorite Indiana Jones movie but I recognize that it is not the “best” one there ever was. But let’s talk about what makes Last Crusade so good. The movie gives us the deepest look into Indy as a character. Like how his name isn’t actually Indiana but rather “Henry Jones Jr.” and that Indiana was the dog’s name.

Featuring Henry Jones Sr. played by Sean Connery (who was only 12 years older than Harrison Ford and yet their dynamic works), the movie gives us a beautiful look exactly at why Indiana Jones is the way that he is. His father would challenge him in ways that forced Indy to think on his feet and we even got an explanation for Indy’s scar on his chin (in a flashback where River Phoenix played a young Indiana Jones) and it is a beautiful look at works with Indiana Jones as a whole.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a nearly perfect movie, which is why it is number one on this list. The best introduction into the world of a character where we barely see his face in the first few moments he’s on screen mixed with real-life obstacles that helped to inform the character makes for an incredible first look at Indiana Jones. One of the most iconic moments in the movie comes because Harrison Ford himself got dysentery and the epic duel was cut to Indiana just shooting his rival in a movie that would define Indiana Jones as a character.

Raiders is not only a good Indiana Jones movie but it is just a great movie overall and one that cinema fans should watch, regardless of how they feel about the action film genre. It’s Harrison Ford at his best and a perfect Stephen Spielberg film.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

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Featured Image Credit: Lucasfilm. 


Rachel Leishman is a writer based in New York City.  She specializes in yelling about her favorite properties. A real-life Leslie Knope, she loves her fictional characters and knows probably too much about Harrison Ford's career.