Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold appears to be following in the wake of DC Studios CEO James Gunn by criticizing the Hollywood film industry.
In a recent appearance on the Happy Sad Confused show to promote the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny film, Mangold shared his thoughts on the original Indiana Jones 5 script that was in development before he came onto the film and had some rather harsh words.
He stated, “The barrier that had to be crossed is when I saw the script that they had I realized why the thing hadn’t gelled yet — which is it was nothing innately wrong with it — but it didn’t seem to be about anything, which is not necessarily out of the ordinary for movies these days.”
“For me, I just didn’t know why I’d be making it other than the company, and the IP, and that the studio wanted another Indiana Jones movie,” he continued. “I didn’t understand why it needed to exist.”
Mangold went on to say, “Honestly, I needed to know what I’m doing because if I’m making a movie where all I’m doing is trying to make it cool and spectacular, but I don’t know why, what it’s about, I’m kind of like a man in the woods without a compass. I’m kind of a pointless director.”
“So what occurred to me very strongly was a kind of dose of, a bracing dose of honesty, that I just tried to see if I unloaded this on everybody if they’d all just run for the hills or stay with me,” Mangold continued. “And what that was, was just that the strong feeling that this needed to be a movie about getting old and that my star is pushing 80, at that point pushing, now firmly in the grasp of it. And there’s no way around that. You can’t make one of those pictures with a guy pretending he’s 45, but in his late 60s. There’s no fudgy room. He’s an old guy.”
“And that doesn’t mean you make the movie about ‘Oh my back aches,’ it means you make the movie about someone in the final chapter of their lives who is reckoning with all that’s happened and what is left and to happen,” Mangold explained.
He then shared, “And to me the second I could envision that, the second it became a more honest film, which I feel these films have always been really at their core entertainments, but they were always about something. And so what I presented them was this idea that the movie would be about time.”
“And that therefore because I’m kind of a brainiac academic about movies. And every Indiana Jones movie the relic isn’t just a relic, the relic embodies a kind of question or mysticism or magic that relates to the theme of the whole picture,” he opined. “And that a movie about fatherhood ends up getting the blessing of one of the knights of the Round Table. A movie about a kind of aspergersy professor who hides in books ends up being about him having to confront the power of God inside a golden box.”
“Each movie the relic is not just valuable, or important, or magical, but that the magic itself and the kind of magic it possesses ends up relating to the actual theme of that picture,” he said.
Mangold concluded, “So I confronted all of them with this kind of slew of ideas and to my great surprise none of them ran away and they all seemed to smile and get excited.
The idea that the film is about getting old is not new Mangold previously told The Hollywood Reporter, “We can’t hide from where we are in our lives — none of us can — and neither can Indiana Jones.”
He elaborated, “I wanted to follow Harrison’s own lead and simply deal with it straight on. It’s not just a movie about a hero in his twilight years who is called back into action.”
“It’s more than just that his bones might ache, it’s that his soul might ache, or that some of his optimism or sense fitting into the world might have evaporated,” he detailed.
He justified this decision saying, “The mistake you can make in movies — and we’ve all seen movies like this — is where someone is of a ripe age, but the entire movie is continuing this charade along with them that they’re not that old.”
His comments criticizing current films do come in the wake of James Gunn also taking issues with many spectacle films.
Gunn told Michael Rosenbaum, “I think that also and then people say superhero fatigue. I think that you see now that it’s not a real thing. People are fatigued with repetition. And I don’t think it’s really just superhero movies, I think you’re seeing it happening now, it’s spectacle films in general.”
“But there’s a lot of spectacle films made and they just have gotten really generic,” Gunn asserted. “And they’ve gotten boring and they aren’t about characters, and there’s no emotion to them. And there should be emotion in things no matter. That should always be there: some type of emotion. I’m not saying it can’t be really light. I’m not saying it can’t be really heavy. I’m saying there should be some sort of emotion.”
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in theaters now.
What do you make of Mangold’s comments about what the film is about?