Although it’s been delayed a bunch of times and Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger, the fifth Indiana Jones movie is happening. Steven Spielberg is returning to the director’s chair, George Lucas is attached as an executive producer, and they’re just waiting for the right script. Spielberg and Lucas have always been notoriously picky about the scripts for Indy movies, so there are dozens of drafts for the previous sequels filled with brilliant ideas, storylines, and concepts that were entirely scrapped by the final version.
10 Indy being eaten by a giant snake
In Frank Darabont’s script for the fourth Indy movie, which was titled Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods, there was a scene in which the eponymous archeologist encountered a giant snake and it swallowed him whole. He managed to escape before being digested, and even in script form, it seemed like an interesting set piece. There’s been nothing like it in an Indiana Jones movie before, and it would be a great way to up the ante on Indy’s crippling fear of snakes. He thought a tomb full of little snakes was bad – imagine being eaten alive by a gigantic, monstrous one!
9 A villain with a robotic arm
The idea of a villain with a robotic arm has continually cropped up in the progression of the Indiana Jones series: in the famous story conference where the Indy team developed Raiders of the Lost Ark, a piece of concept art created by Ron Cobb, and a draft of the unproduced sequel Indiana Jones and the Monkey King. Originally, the Raiders villain Toht had a metal arm with a machine gun and flamethrower attached to it. While Toht is long gone, Indiana Jones 5 could reuse this basic concept for its own villain, who won’t be a Nazi (Spielberg refused to satirize the Nazis after making Schindler’s List), but will certainly be a bad guy.
8 A haunted mansion
George Lucas’ initial idea for the third Indiana Jones movie – the one that turned into Last Crusade, arguably the best of the sequels – involved Indy being trapped in a haunted mansion. Steven Spielberg shot down the idea, because he had just made Poltergeist and was therefore sick of the “haunted house” premise and wanted to dig his teeth into something new. This wouldn’t make a great premise for a whole Indy movie, but maybe the opening action sequence, or a middle section in the second act would be a perfect place to give fans a glimpse at the Indy movie that never was.
7 The search for the Wałbrzych Gold Train
It was recently revealed that Jon Kasdan’s original script for Indiana Jones 5, which has since been abandoned, revolved around Indy’s search for the Wałbrzych Gold Train, a Nazi train filled with precious jewels and artifacts that went missing in Poland during World War II.
While Kasdan, the son of Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan, has been removed from the project and replaced by This is Us creator Dan Fogelman, the Wałbrzych Gold Train does sound like an intriguing MacGuffin. The younger Kasdan and his father recently collaborated on the screenplay for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
6 Indy being chased through a museum
In Frank Darabont’s screenplay for the fourth Indiana Jones movie, entitled City of the Gods, there was a scene in which an assassin chased Indy through a museum after closing hours. We’ve already been introduced to Indy’s affinity for museums, after he told a band of thugs twice (once as a kid and once as an adult) that the artifact they stole belonged in a museum. “It belongs in a museum!” has now become one of the franchise’s most iconic quotes, so following it up with an action set piece that takes place in a museum would be pretty cool fan service.
5 Indy dying and being brought back to life
At one point during the plot of Chris Columbus’ unused script for a movie called Indiana Jones and the Monkey King (also known as Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life), Indy actually died. However, after Indy’s adventure had taken him to Africa where he met a zoologist who got him in touch with a 200-year-old pygmy named Tyki, he was able to be brought back to life. The script is full of wild set pieces, like the sadistic villain forcing Indy to play chess with real people as the pieces, but they’re all specific to the Monkey King storyline. Indy dying and being brought back to life is a plot point that would make an interesting turn for what will likely be the last Indiana Jones movie.
4 A motorcycle chase across the Great Wall of China
George Lucas’ initial notes for what would become Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom included mention of a scene that would make use of the increased budget allowed by the original’s runaway success: a motorcycle chase across the Great Wall of China. Angelina Jolie’s second Tomb Raider movie stole this idea, which throws a bit of a spanner in the works, but Steven Spielberg would surely cook up a much more lively and exciting version of the scene. Plus, with the Chinese market currently the hottest target for Hollywood, a trip to the Great Wall is a no-brainer from a financial standpoint.
3 Indy riding a rhino into battle with a tank
In Chris Columbus’ script for Indiana Jones and the Monkey King, there’s a scene in which Indy rides into battle with a tank on the back of a rhino. As absurd as it sounds, in the context of Columbus’ script, this scene actually checks out.
It doesn’t seem as ridiculous in the script as it does out of context, and it would certainly be a lot of fun to see in the fifth movie. (He’s already nuked the fridge – what does he have to lose?) Disney will likely offer Indiana Jones 5 a gargantuan budget with no restrictions, so there’s no reason why Spielberg couldn’t do it.
2 A dogfight with biplanes
We already saw a dogfight in an Indiana Jones movie when Indy and his father flew away from a Zeppelin, pursued by a Nazi officer, but Frank Darabont’s biplane dogfight in his script for Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods (his rejected take on the fourth Indy movie) was something entirely different. Harrison Ford’s rapidly increasing age means that he won’t be able to do a lot of stunts for the new Indiana Jones movie, so a scene like a biplane chase sounds like a good idea. It would mostly involve CGI, and Ford could shoot it from the comfort of a cockpit (Lord knows he enjoys flying).
1 The search for Abner Ravenwood
Karen Allen has said that she’s eager to return to the role of Marion Ravenwood in the new Indy movie, and since she married the titular adventurer in the last one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Since her father Abner died in an avalanche and his body was never found, there’s certainly the chance for an exciting story in the Indiana Jones canon about the search for him. He was Indy’s mentor and he was the one who recovered the headpiece to the Staff of Ra, so there’s a lot to explore. It can’t be as simple as a disappearance. Maybe he discovered an old artifact with magical powers – there’s your premise right there!