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Film / Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Spoilers for all Indiana Jones works preceding this one will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Mutt Williams: You're a...teacher?
Indiana Jones: Part time.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth film in the Indiana Jones series. It is directed by Steven Spielberg, with the screenplay written by David Koepp and the story written by franchise creator George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. It was released on May 22, 2008.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set 19 years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, during the Cold War, and begins with Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his colleague, George "Mac" McHale (Ray Winstone) being captured by Russian soldiers seeking a powerful artifact that the U.S. government is holding. Although the Russians, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) obtain the artifact (a Crystal Skull of unknown origin), Indy manages to escape after a harrowing experience at a nuclear testing site in Nevada.

The FBI, paranoid of Russian infiltration, accuse Indy of being a collaborator with the Russians, and the allegations force him out of his long-term teaching career at Marshall College. Just when he thinks his time as a teacher and archaeologist is done, Indy meets a leather-jacket-wearing young man named "Mutt" Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who convinces Jones to go with him to South America and help him find an old friend.

Indy and Mutt's journey eventually lead them to reunite with Indy's old lover — and as it turns out, Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who had also been kidnapped by the Russians, and Professor Harold Oxley (John Hurt), Jones' close associate who discovered the artifact and went slightly insane as a result. Now, reunited with Marion and accompanied by Mutt, Indy sets out to discover the secret behind the crystal skull, leading him on an adventure both familiar and entirely new.

The film also stars Jim Broadbent as Charles Stanforth.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was finally put into production after having various ideas floated around in the 1990s. The film took inspiration from the pulp science fiction stories of the 1950s, and was set during the Cold War. The film also featured a score by John Williams and creature effects by Stan Winston (in one of his last projects).

The film's story is followed by Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (which takes place 12 years later), set to be released in 2023.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Duo: Indy and Mutt Williams.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Akator.
  • Affably Evil: Irina Spalko.
  • Agony of the Feet: In the warehouse at the start of the film, Dovchenko tells Indy to put his gun down. He does, by dropping it to the ground in such a way that it goes off, hitting Dovchenko in the foot.
  • Amphibious Automobile: The so-called "Ducks" are actually scaled-up replicas of the Ford GPA/Soviet GAZ 46 constructed on modern jeep chassis. Replicas had to be used as the WWII originals are actually quite small compared to modern jeeps — small enough that a person standing on top of one could easily flip it over, making them too small for the fencing scenes. The misidentification as "ducks" makes perfect sense story wise as most people (including Dr. Jones, apparently) are not military vehicle historians. It is also worth noting that the vehicle actually known as the "Duck" was officially called the DUKW (a code which meant a 1942 design of a utility vehicle with tandem rear axles and all-wheel drive) and was built on the chassis of the military's three-axle, 2 1/2-ton cargo truck (officially: CCKW) from World War II
  • Amusing Injuries: Indy breaking Mac's nose. Well, he did warn him...
  • Ancient Astronauts: The titular "kingdom" of aliens is referenced as such, although it is never elaborated upon.
  • Ant Assault: During the Amazon chase sequence, Indy's group and the Soviets run into a field full of big and vicious ant colonies. Antonin Dovchenko gets overwhelmed and devoured by a swarm of them.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Indy dismissively tells Mutt the Crystal Skull legend is "just a story". Like The Ark of the Covenant, right? He also calls Akator granting Mind Control powers to whomever returns the skull there a "bedtime story", just as he did with the Holy Grail legend. It's possible though that he was just being uncooperative with his captors, or that most stories of this kind are still false in the Indyverse, so he wasn't ruling it out on grounds of plausibility alone.
  • Area 51: It turns out that this (here called "Hangar 51") is where the U.S. government stores most of the dangerous ancient phlebotinum that Indy finds. And Indiana Jones himself was called in to help investigate the Roswell Incident. And it's also the final resting place of The Ark of the Covenant.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The "Rat Snake" used to rescue Indy and Marion is really a Papuan Python. Rat snakes do not grow that big. Even Indy lampshaded that one when Mutt tried to assure him (most likely Mutt was trying to calm the clearly-freaked Indy down).
    Indy: Rat Snakes aren't that big.
    Mutt: This one is, alright?
    • Also the "siafu". First things first: siafu are real ants, but come from Africa, not South America. Of course, Indy might simply have misidentified them (he's not a zoologist, after all). But no matter where they came from, the idea that an ant colony could drag a struggling adult human being into their hill and strip him to the bone in seconds is a bit far-fetched.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • While teaching his class after his interview with the Feds, Indy mentions the Skara Brae archaeological site (or as he pronounces it, "Ska-ah Bray") as being on the "west coast of Scotland". Skara Brae is on the west coast of Mainland, the main island of the Orkney Islands, which are just North of the Scottish mainland, not West of it. The historically significant island off the West coast of Scotland is the Isle of Skye. However, Indy does get Skara Brae's timeline right, as it was occupied long before Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids were built, and is often refered to as the "Scottish Pompeii".
    • Indy learning Quechua, an Andean language, from men in Mexican Pancho Villa's army. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely. Nahautl would've been more likely.
    • The map showing the journey to Peru shows their point of arrival to be Cuzco, which is absurd for both historical and geographical reasons. There was no international airport there at the time, and getting from Cuzco to Nazca would've involved several days of arduous driving, almost all of in the Andes Mountains, and very little of it on paved roads. Mutt's motorcycle would have never made it.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Indy claims at one point that he learned to speak Quechua during his time with Pancho Villa in Mexico as a young man (as seen in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles). While not impossible, this is highly improbable: Quechua is predominantly spoken in the highlands of South America (particularly Peru), as it was historically the primary language family of the Incan Empire. It's seldom spoken in Mexico—which is located in North America, and was historically the domain of the Aztec Empire. The most widely spoken pre-Colombian language in Mexico is Nahuatl.
  • Artistic License – Physics: No, not nuclear physics for the infamous fridge. Explosions are funny things where even a little cover can make a huge difference, though an explosion that destroys everything else may or may not leave a refrigerator intact—those old ones are amazingly tough. Nor is radiation an automatic death sentence — it can take days to succumb to radiation poisoning after exposure to a lethal dose, and the exposure can be mitigated if you get decontaminated fairly soon (hence Indy being stripped naked and scrubbed down), depending on the type of radiation you've been exposed to. However, hurling a man in a metal box into the air several hundred yards is problematic for entirely different but more mundane reasons.
  • Badass Biker: Mutt. He's introduced on his bike and uses it during the escape from the Malt Shop. When he and Indy are captured at the cemetery, he's not happy that his bike is left behind.
  • Bar Brawl: Indy orders Mutt to punch a man, instigating a brawl in the Malt Shop so they can escape.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Indiana cast this literal foreshadow when Spalko is exposing her domination plans.
  • Big Bad: Irina Spalko.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Dovchenko to Indy and Marion during their argument in the back of the truck, saying, "Oh, for love of God! Shut the hell up!" They keep arguing, so Dovchenko gags Marion. This doesn't stop her, either.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Indy to Dean Stanforth when he's told he has to take a leave of absence. It's loud enough for his students to hear it through the classroom door.
  • Bombproof Appliance: A lead-lined fridge is used to survive a nuclear bomb blast. The film provides the trope image (when Indy tumbles out of the fridge afterwards).
  • Bowdlerise: In the Russian dub, all mentions of "Russians" and "Russia" were replaced with "Communists" and "USSR". It's not much of a change because the American characters use "Russian" in the original dialogue out of convenience to begin with: Spalko is from eastern Ukraine, and Dovchenko's name implies he is of Ukrainian descent.
  • Brake Angrily: Marion does this when she notices that Spalko is the back seat of the jeep she's driving during the jungle car chase.
  • Brick Joke: Indy's words to Spalko early on in the film was "I like Ike", later on after Indy escapes the Russians from the military base, those exact words reappear again.....on a bomb in a nuclear test site.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Mutt. He can speak Spanish, learned fencing, and loves reading, but dropped out of school because he thought much of it was a waste of time, choosing to fix motorcycles for a living. Marion was not happy with Mutt's decision. Neither was Indy, after learning Mutt was his son.
  • Broken Aesop: The movie implies that looting is bad. The hero insists that he's an archaeologist who never loots.
  • The Brute: Dovchenko.
  • Bus Crash: It's stated that Henry Jones Sr. passed away sometime between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. This is because Sean Connery was offered a cameo role, but didn't want to come out of retirement. The same scene reveals Marcus Brody died shortly afterward because Denholm Elliot had died shortly after making the third film.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mutt goes through a lot of abuse, as he gets punched by overprotective girlfriends, stung by scorpions, and knocked off moving Jeeps.
    • Mac also qualifies; he gets beaten up and kidnapped prior to the film, gets shot in the foot and has his nose broken by Indy, and finally he gets sucked through the interdimensional portal.
  • Call-Back: Lots.
    • The establishing shots of Marshall College (when Indy returns after being debriefed by the FBI) are replicated from the same shots seen at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, down to the music, the passing car and a shot of the dean walking into the classroom where Indy is teaching.
    • Doctor Jones is still teaching from Michaelson, Chapter 4.
    • During the chase scene at Marshall College a student asks Dr. Jones for guidance on material he is studying, and Jones advises him that to be a good archeologist one needed to get out of the library and into field work.
    • The music heard during the warehouse escape sequence is the exact same piece used during the escape from the Hovitos in Raiders.
    • Indy gives Mutt a quick summary of his time with Pancho Villa as an explanation for why he knows a South American native language.
    • During the graveyard sequence, a guard shoots a poisoned dart at Mutt that sticks in a shovel, much like the scene in Raiders where Indy's torch is hit by a dart as he's attempting to reach the golden idol.
    • The scene where Indy, Marion and Mutt argue about personal issues before taking out a guard is identical to a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and Henry argue about their personal issues before taking out a pair of guards.
    • Indy gets angry at Mutt when he realizes he brought him Oxley's note with him, just like how in Last Crusade, his father was angry when he realized Indy brought the grail diary with him.
    • The Joneses performing a motorcycle escape again.
    • Indy finds an important clue on the floor at the last known location of Ox, just like in Last Crusade, when Indy was at the Venice library, the last known location of his Dad toward the beginning.
    • Mutt laughing at the Soviet spies after they crash, while Indy looks on unamused, is similar to how in Last Crusade, Indy laughs after taking down a Nazi motorcyclist as his father gives a Disapproving Look. Although Indy's unamused because they crashed into a statue of Marcus Brody.
    • Mac dies because of his greed, just like Elsa did in Last Crusade. Indy asking him to give him a hand is also a Call-Back to this scene.
    • Indy and Mutt have a conversation at a malt shop. In Last Crusade, Indy says the last time he and Henry Sr. had a drink together, it was (presumably) at a malt shop, as Indy says "I had a milkshake". This becomes more significant after Indy and Mutt learn that they're, respectively, father and son.
    • Indy calls Mutt "Junior" at the end of the film just like his own father used to call him.
    • After their wedding vows, Marion possessively takes Indy's arm in exactly the same way she did at the end of Raiders.
  • The Cameo: Along with the one in Continuity Nod below, Moses's staff from The Ten Commandments is seen at the hangar.
  • Canon Immigrant: Partial example. The Russians first interfered with Indy in one of the games before they were used for Crystal Skull.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: In the opening scene, a hot rod full of teenagers paces the convoy of army trucks. The lead vehicle even races the hot rod for a little while.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Doctor Jones pauses to give scholarly advice to a student after Mutt's motorcycle crashes through the college library. Bonus points for the obscure Stealth Pun; the advice given (while being hotly pursued by a couple of Communist mooks) is to read Vere Gordon Childe, a passionate and well-known Marxist.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Lampshaded and part of the new Establishing Character Moments needed after the Sequel Gap. e.g Indiana fails one of his whip-antics.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mutt's knife.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Early on, Mutt establishes that he learned the art of fencing before dropping out of school. This comes in handy later when he discovers a pair of swords in the back of the group's escape vehicle during the forest chase scene, and uses one to spar with Spalko as the cars race through the forest.
  • City of Gold: Akator is the local name for the mythical lost city El Dorado.
  • Colonel Badass:
    • We learn Indy was made a Colonel in the OSS during World War II.
    • Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Ark of the Covenant is revealed as Indy exits the warehouse after the truck chase sequence.
    • Indy mentions to Mutt that he ran away from home and joined Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution when he was a teenager. This happened in the pilot episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
    • At one point, Indy tells Mutt that his plan to distract the Russians at the campsite is "intolerable", just like Henry Jones said several times to Indy in the previous film.
    • In The Last Crusade Indiana teaches that seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. By 1957 his thinking has evolved and it's more in touch with his actions; he remarks that a good archeologist is the one who gets out of the library and does fieldwork.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Like in previous movies, the Giant Mook and the Big Bad suffer these fates. Dovchenko gets devoured by a swarm of man-eating ants. They even take his carcass to an anthill. Spalko's brain incinerates, making fire come out of her eyes, before she's disintegrated.
  • Crystal Skull: The current MacGuffin - albeit it's not even a human skull. Indy mentions in passing two Real Life examples — the Mitchell-Hedges Skull and the one in the British Museum (the latter of which was made in the 19th century, the former probably in the early 20th century).
  • Cutting the Knot: When they uncover the hidden city Indy and company have a huge dramatic chase scene to avoid the angry natives. The Russians shoot those natives down so efficiently that they barely break stride.
  • Dark Action Girl: Irina Spalko.
  • Death by Materialism: Mac, whose need to get as much gold and jewelry as possible during the temple collapse leads to him being unable to run as quickly when the ground starts collapsing.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Radiation scrub-down right after nuking the fridge.
  • Devoured by the Horde: When a ton of man-eating ants appears, they take out several Russian soldiers, but Dovchenko suffers the most when several of those ants goes inside his mouth and then they drag him into an anthill.
  • Diner Brawl: Indy and Mutt start a brawl in a diner in order to get away from the KGB.
  • Dirty Communists: The bad guys of the film. Spalko actually states that her obsession with it is due to the aliens possessing a Hive Mind. Just as Belloq desired The Ark of the Covenant because it is "a radio for speaking to God", Spalko wants to find the Kingdom for a Commie Assimilation Plot.
  • Disappeared Dad: Indy turns out to have been one to Mutt.
  • Double Entendre: Irina to Mutt: "You fight like a young man; eager to begin, quick to finish!"
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Mac. He betrays Indy in the beginning, "explains" it partway through by claiming to be a CIA double-agent, then betrays him again at the end. Indy lampshades this:
    Indy: So what are you, a triple agent?!
    Mac: Nah, I just lied about being a double.
  • Dramatic Alien VTOL: The pyramid doubles as an alien ship.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: How the Russians arrive at the base checkpoint.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Aliens.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lest anyone thought Indy lost his edge since Last Crusade, we're immediately proven wrong:
    Dovchenko: You recognize building, yes?
    Indy: (deadpan) Drop dead.
    (Dovchenko strikes Indy)
    Indy: I'm sorry, I meant "Drop dead, comrade."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Marion gets this. It's revealed, after losing her father and livelihood, that Indiana left her before they were supposed to get married. She was forced to be a single mother and moved on, only for her new husband to die, her son to get expelled from every high school, and for herself to be kidnapped. After she tells off Indiana, she forgives him when he makes an effort to make up for it, and he finally marries her.
  • End of an Era: Kingdom was the final Indiana Jones film made prior to Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012. As a result, it's the final Indy film directed by Steven Spielberg and with a story credit by George Lucas (as both creators would take a backseat as Executive Producers for Dial of Destiny). This is also the final Indy film with sound design by Ben Burtt (who'd left Lucasfilm after the completion of the Star Wars Prequels in 2005, but returned to Indiana Jones for this film).
E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: According to a wall painting Indy finds, the aliens came down and taught humans agriculture and irrigation.
  • Exact Words: Dovchenjo tells Indy to put his gun down in the warehouse. Indy drops it, causing it to go off and hit Dovchenko in the foot when it hits the ground.
  • Expy: Word of God says Professor Harold Oxley was modeled after Ben Gunn from Treasure Island.
  • Fake Town: After Indy escapes from the warehouse, he comes upon a suburban neighborhood and goes in looking for help. In short order, he discovers the neighborhood is entirely populated by mannequins. A short time later, he realizes he's walked into a nuclear test site and they're about to conduct the test.
  • Fatal MacGuffin: The knowledge as the treasure of the ancient kingdom. Indy just does what the skull wants and returns it to its fellows. Spalko asks to be given everything they know. It ends...poorly...for her. The kingdom is also full of the regular kind of treasure, but it ends up being just as lethal for Mac, the only one who takes any of it.
  • The '50s: The film is set in 1957.
  • Fired Teacher: Narrowly averted by the Dean, who gets Indiana "a leave of absence".
  • For Science!: Spalko's motives start out as a Communist Assimilation Plot, but by the end she seems to care more about raw knowledge for the sake of itself — all of it. It proves to be a bit too much.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mutt reveals in the malt shop his mother's name is Mary. Guess who she turns out to be?
    • Pretty much everything Oxley says while raving comes back as important later as it helps lead the main characters to Akator. Some of his ravings foreshadow some other interesting reveals, like:
    Ox: Henry Jones. Junior.
    • A quick one near the beginning; when the door to Hanger 51 is opened, the Lost Ark's musical cue is briefly heard. Turns out the hanger is where the US Government stashed it, as revealed by its broken crate.
    • Indy tells Spalko to Be Careful What You Wish For, as she might just get it. She responds, "I usually do." At the end, she asks the aliens to tell her everything they know. She gets it, the information proves too much for her, and ends up killing her.
  • Friend on the Force: A variation with General Ross. He's one of Indy's old wartime colleagues and personally vouches for Indy's loyalty and patriotism (not that it does much good to the paranoid Feds).
  • Gainax Ending: Reviewers of the film have criticized the bizarre turn it takes after the first hour or so, including some bits of Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, while the earlier films have just as much supernatural going ons.
  • Genre Shift: Where the previous three films were heavily based on the pulp adventure serials of the '30s and '40s, this one is derived in part from the pulp sci-fi of the '50s.
  • Good Stepmother: Colin Williams was a good stepfather for Mutt. In fact, Mutt for most of the movie believes that Colin was his actual father.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The massacre of the American soldiers at the beginning of the film by the Russians is only seen in a distant shot after most of them have been downed.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Spalko works for the Soviet Government, and in 1957 when the film was set Nikita Khrushchev was Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and Nikolai Bulganin was Chairman of the Council of the USSR, making them the Greater Scope Villains. Neither are actually mentioned, although an effigy of Khrushchev is briefly seen at the anti-communist protest during the motorcycle chase. Despite the film taking place four years after his death, Josef Stalin is name-dropped a couple times, no doubt because his historical reputation is much more negative than that of Khrushchev.
  • Groin Attack: Mutt gets several of these from numerous plants during his duel with Spalko, while he's standing with one leg on each jeep (one on his, one on hers).
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Mac, who switches sides and motives constantly throughout the film. He's apparently helping the Russians because he's "a capitalist", yet he's also a double mole for the CIA. Lampshaded as a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: Averted:
    Mutt: (regarding elongated skulls on skeletons) Why are they like that?
    Indy: Incans would bind the heads of their infants with rope.
    Mutt: (horrified) Why would they do that?
    Indy: To honor the gods.
    Mutt: No! No! God's head does not look like that!
    Indy: That depends on who your god is.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: When Indy needed to find the location of a magnetic crate, he threw gunpowder in the air and watched which way it moved. Later on, this trope is lampshaded when an object attracts gold coins, which are decidedly not magnetic.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: When told to drop his gun, Indy (purposely) manages to shoot one of the communists in the foot when it hits the floor.
  • I Know Karate: Subverted. After Mutt grabs the titular cranium, Spalko busts out previous unseen and unmentioned martial arts moves — and sucks at it. At most, it seems like it's annoying Mutt.
  • Improbable Cover: Indy survives a nuke by hiding in a refrigerator. Given the fridge is lead, it and the house would have absorbed much of the impact of the blast, so it’s possible Indy could have survived if not for the fridge being flung hundreds of yards in the air.
  • Improvised Weapon: Mutt uses the bagged Crystal Skull itself to clobber a Russian soldier a few times.
  • Indy Ploy:
    • Lampshaded.
      Mutt: What's he gonna do now?
      Marion: I don't think he plans that far ahead.
    • Also averted, surprisingly enough. In the beginning, Indiana Jones takes gunpowder from the Soviets and uses it to track the alien remains in the warehouse. It seems to be setting up a "gotcha" where they try and shoot him but can't because they have no bullets left, but nothing ever comes of it.
  • In Name Only: The crystal skull(s) have almost nothing in common with the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull legend.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Three of them. One after another.
  • Ironic Echo: "Hold this" and throwing someone a skeleton.
  • Irony: "I'm a capitalist... and they pay."
  • Jerkass Realization: Indiana has this when learning the reason why Marion didn't tell him about Mutt was because he left her before their wedding and didn't write until Mutt was four years old and she was married. As she points out, he took her for granted while dallying around with other women.
  • Just in Time: In the nuclear test site, Indy has less than twenty seconds to find cover before detonation after being left there by the Russians looking for him. He manages to climb into the fridge and gets the door closed as the timer reaches zero.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite interrogating Indy on the suspicion of aiding and abetting Spalko and the KGB agents, Smith and Taylor receive no punishment.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Irina Spalko's need for knowledge ends up being her downfall when the alien reads her mind and judges that she would use the information for evil, before burning her alive from the inside-out.
    • Early on, Mac turns against Indy while claiming he's a "capitalist". This turns out to be his downfall, as he dies when his love of material goods makes him too slow to escape the collapsing temple.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Subverted; Indy is about to keep an ancient knife but a severe look by Mutt makes him put it back.
  • Last Words: Parodied hard.
    Spalko: No defiant last words, Dr Jones?
    Indy: I like Ike.
    Dovchenko: Put down gun.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: In the film, Marion's reveal a third of the way through is meant to take Jones (and the audience) by surprise. Of course, that didn't stop Paramount from including the character on the official poster for the film and heavily publicizing Karen Allen's involvement with the project.
    • Her name also appears in the credits shown during the opening scene.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At least twice during the scene with the ants, an ant is squished and the goo that shoots out lands on the camera.
    • There is also water splashed on the camera when they fall down the waterfall.
  • Let's Get Out of Here: A carload of Russians looking for Indy in the nuclear test site do this with less than a minute before the bomb goes off. It doesn't do them much good, as while they escape the site, the blast catches up to them and takes them out.
    • Indy, Marion, Mutt, Oxley, and Mac when the skull is returned and the portal opens up above their heads. When Oxley tells them what it is, Indy says, "I don't think we want to go that way," and they promptly get the hell out of there.
  • Lighter and Softer: Pretty Little Headshots, only one murder by Indiana, cute monkeys, cute prairie dogs...
  • Like Father, Like Son: A central motif of the movie.
  • Logo Joke: Cutting from the Paramount mountain to a prairie dog mound.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Mutt. Oddly enough, early promotional materials claimed that the film would feature Indiana Jones and son on an adventure. This was retconned into Mutt being a young friend just so they could try to surprise audiences during the film.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: The villains invoke this trope to do the exact same thing the heroes want to do!
  • Made of Iron: Despite being older, Indy endures more punishment than ever before. He flies backwards into a truck and crashes through the windshield, survives inside a lead-lined fridge when it's tossed end-over-end out of the blast zone and tries to beat The Dragon (who's seemingly larger than he is) while getting punched repeatedly. The rest of the cast (especially Oxley) exhibit this when they survive the trip over three waterfall drops with nothing more than shaken nerves.
  • Malt Shop: It is set in the 50s, after all. And there it happens a Bar Brawl.
  • Mauve Shirt: The three Soviets who are killed by the atom bomb all have notable prior scenes that make their deaths a bit more meaningful to keen-eyed viewers.
    • One of them is in a jeep with Mac when Indy makes them crash.
    • One is the bespectacled scientist whose glasses are pulled off by the magnet during the search for the artifact in Hangar 51.
    • One of them is one of the two soldiers who gets into a drag race with some teenagers on the way to Hangar 51.
  • Mayincatec: A Maya-style temple and Ancient Astronauts giving the Maya their technology.
  • Meaningful Name: "Mutt" Williams' nickname is an early hint that he's related to Indiana, who took his own nickname from his dog's name.
    • Of course, Mutt claimed that he made the nickname up himself, and he had never known that Indy was his father until The Reveal (or even who he was until the beginning of the film) so it was probably just a coincidence, at least in-story.
  • Mind Rape: The crystal skull aliens killed the villain with knowledge. And tearing her a new hole in spacetime.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The ants are recognized by Indy as "Siafu", who live across the Atlantic in Africa. The Brazilian dub\subtitles fixes with a similarly named one that does live in the Amazon, "Saúva", even if that opens another Artistic License given those ants are leafcutters. To be fair, Indy might just be stating their assumed danger based on an ant he's more familiar with rather than saying that these are an African species that somehow ended up in South America.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Right at the start; defiant youngsters on the road taunting other drivers, with Elvis' "Hound Dog" as the soundtrack.
  • The Mole: Mac: "I'm a capitalist. And they pay."
  • Mood Dissonance: In the Nevada bomb testing scene, the mood quickly goes from comical (Indy stumbles over mannequins and falls over a bicycle placed on the road) to disturbing (the nuclear blast countdown and Indy's reaction to it).
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The Giant Mook.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The climax.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: After-the-fact advice given to Mutt by Indiana.
  • Noodle Incident: What Indiana did as an OSS intelligence officer During the War implies the existence of a full noodle warehouse. Many medal-worthy actions are alluded to and a Berlin cover mission is invoked by Mac. Plus his involvement in the Roswell Incident. The next film, Dial of Destiny would use one of Indy's wartime adventures as its prologue.
  • Novelization: The film was novelised by James Rollins. More details here.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Indiana openly asks Oxley — surrounded by Russians — if he is faking it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • During Indy's escape from the warehouse, Mac gets one when he realizes the car he's in is on a collision course with Indy's, and is going to crash head-on into it.
    • Indy gets one when a carload of Russians looking for him in the nuclear test site drive off without him, leaving him stranded there with less than twenty seconds to go before detonation.
    • Said Russians also get one when the air raid siren goes off. All three dash back to their car and scram, leading to the above example.
    • Indy gets two in succession at the end of the chase scene through the forest. The first is when he sees the jeep he and the others are in is about to crash, and then again when the siafu ants appear.
    • The whole group of heroes when the truck they're driving goes over a waterfall. Then it happens again as they realize it's not just one, but three sequential waterfalls.
  • Older and Wiser: Indy, more-or-less. The years haven't completely cured his reckless nature, but they have mellowed it a bit.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted. Mutt claims his mom knew Indy, but only gives her name as "Mary Williams". That doesn't do anything for Indy: "There've been a lot of Marys, kid."
  • Only Sane Man: Spalko comes off as this when Mutt and Indiana reunite with Marion. The three start bickering immediately, and Spalko reminds them that she wants their cooperation. Cue gun cocked at Marion's back.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Subverted — a car of bad guys try this, and get nuked.
  • Painted-On Pants: Irina Spalko. For the most part, her whole outfit is just tight enough to have a fanservice feel to it, but there are moments where her pants look painted-on tight, like when she crushes a huge ant with her knees.
    • Played straight with Marion.
  • Passing the Torch: Subverted. At the end of the film, a gust of wind blows Indy's hat to Mutt's feet, the idea being that Indy is going to retire from archaeology and Mutt is gonna take his place. But as Mutt is about to put the hat on, Indy scoops it out of his hands and puts it on; Indy's never gonna quit looking for treasures.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Lampshaded:
    Mutt: (incredulously) You're a teacher?
    Indy: Part-time.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: A variation. While in the Akator temple, a pair of eyes move in a skull relief on the wall.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "I like Ike."
  • Pretty Little Headshots: All of the bullet wounds on rifle victims are tiny, black, bloodless holes, even on natives wearing no clothes.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Wouldn't be an Indy movie without it, as Indy fights Dovchenko while surrounded by man-eating ants.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
  • Quicksand Sucks: Indy and Marion get caught in it, although Indy explains that it's actually "dry sand". It's also when Marion tells Indy Mutt is his son. Truth in Television though as very dry fine sand is actually very fluid. It's only when wet or rough that sand will stick.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Cate Blanchett was lambasted for her supposedly unrealistic Russian accent. However, her character was explicitly Ukrainian.
  • Red Scare: Irina Spalko and the Russians.
    • This is also shown in the rampant paranoia of the time, with the two FBI agents who question Indy insinuating that he's a communist sympathizer and traitor, even though it's also pointed out that he's both a War Hero and one of the most highly decorated people in the entire country.
      • Which is emphasized by his former CO, General Ross, who clearly believes that the obsession over the Red Scare is absurd, and tries to convince them that Indy is innocent. It doesn't help much. Though the worst Indy got was losing his job as a college professor.
      • Paranoia? This film shows that the KGB is capable of infiltrating a top-secret base (complete with nuclear test site) in the middle of the USA. Seems McCarthy was right... - in-universe.
  • Really Gets Around: Indiana's past attitude, which by the time of this film comes back to bite him. As Marion points out, Indiana left her and didn't send a letter till three years later. Of course, she wasn't going to tell him she had borne his child, especially after she had moved on and married someone who didn't care she was a single mother. She snarkily says Indiana has no right to judge her for moving on when she did the same.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Invoked; when ordered by Dovchenko to drop his gun, Indy tosses it on the ground and it goes off, hitting Dovchenko in the foot.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dean Charles Stanforth is this after Indiana is accused of being a Communist spy. He reveals that to make sure Indiana isn't fired and blacklisted, he resigned in protest so that Indiana will have a job when he's reinstated. What's more, he gives Indiana a place to hide out until the heat dies down.
  • Remember the New Guy?: A few examples:
    • Mac is introduced as an ally of Indy's from World War II with whom he went on many secret missions.
    • General Ross clearly knows Indy from World War II.
    • Harold Oxley is an old friend of Indy's who is appearing in the series for the first time.
    • Charles Stanford also counts as this, although in his case he's also something of a Replacement Goldfish for Marcus Brody.
    • A posthumous example is Colin Williams, a friend of Indy and Marian who was killed during World War II.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Downplayed, but the return of Marion for the first time since Raiders of the Lost Ark. The unstated implication from her absence during Last Crusade was that something had happened in the 2 years between it and Raiders that caused her and Indy to split. What exactly happened is finally revealed in this film.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The magnetic, mummified alien remains from the opening were recovered from Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.
  • Rule of Three: "Three times it drops." As in three waterfalls, one after the other, which the protagonists go over one by one.
    • Also the gag of Mutt brushing his hair, which happens three times. Once he even does it with Spalko's sword at his throat.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • When the three Russians who chase Indy into a nuclear testing zone realize where they are, they take off even as Indy tries to surrender to them so he can flee the blast radius. Their car ultimately fails to outrun the explosion.
    • One of the cemetery guards who attacks Indy and Mutt runs for it after Indy takes out his gun.
    • A thug Indy knocked out cold but didn't toss out of the vehicle early in the jeep chase wakes up as Spalko is trying to knock the jeep off the edge of a cliff. Rather than try to overpower Indy and Mac, the guy jumps out of the jeep, making a safe (albeit rough) landing before being left behind by the opposing parties.
  • Secret Legacy: Henry Jones III has at least a passing interest in archaeology as well, although part of that seems to be that his mother likes hanging around with archaeologists since her father was one as well.
  • Sequel Gap: Both in-universe and in real life, 19 years have passed between the movies.
  • Shaped Like Itself "Their treasure was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure."
  • Shotgun Wedding: Inverted; Indiana left Marion a week before the altar and she found out she was pregnant with Mutt.
  • Shout-Out: Mutt's Badass Biker image is lifted from Marlon Brando in the The Wild One.
  • Single Serving Friend: Indy is kidnapped at the beginning alongside his "old friend" Mac. Despite Mac never appearing in the franchise before, he and Indy apparently have a long history, including serving together as double agents in Berlin. His death at the climax means he won't be coming back, either.
  • Slow Electricity: In the warehouse scene, the lights turn on one at a time.
  • Smoldering Shoes: All that's left of Spalko after her Karmic Death is a smoking pair of boots.
  • Smug Snake: Mac.
  • Special Effects Evolution: Been made 19 years after The Last Crusade, the fourth installment had a lot more CGI used in its action sequences. Ironically, the CGI sticks out like a sore thumb just a decade after premiere of the Crystal Skull.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Jim Broadbent's character Dean Charles Stanforth stands in for Marcus Brody.
    • George 'Mac' McHale is essentially a replacement for Sallah, a fan favorite character who is totally absent from this movie. Mac's character is introduced as if we already knew him from previous installments; a lot of dialog refers to his and Indy's shared past (which happened in-between movies); and we are clearly supposed to care about his change of alignment from good to evil, even though we never actually got to know him first.
  • Take My Hand!: Subverted. Indy tries this with his whip to save Mac during the final escape sequence, but Mac tells him he'll be alright and lets go, getting sucked into the portal in the process.
  • Take the Wheel: Said by Indy to Marion twice during the jungle chase. Mutt complains the second time. "No fair! She got to drive the truck!"
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When Indy and Marion get caught in the dry sand pit, he assures her it will be find so long as there isn't an air pocket. He doesn't even get to finish that thought before one bursts from them disturbing the sand, causing them to sink faster. Then a second one goes off.
    • Irina wants to know everything [that the aliens know], she gets her wish.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Done by Russian soldiers around a campfire.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: There are no mountains or cliffs in the Peruvian Amazon jungle.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Mac, with a side of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Marion has graduated from throwing the occasional punch at her captors to driving an amphibious transport off a cliff and onto a tree, then letting the tree snap back and smack into the cliff-climbing Mooks behind her.
    • Indiana as well. He was an Action Survivor in the first three films who got by on luck and determination, but with an extra nineteen years of adventuring under his belt, Indy's actually gotten good at being an Action Hero.
  • Too Strange to Show: The dimension that the Soviet soldiers, Mac, and the aliens end up.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Oxley and Irina. The latter's brain painfully overloads from the aliens granting her wish — knowledge of everything.
  • Tree Buchet: Done to fend off a jeep of Russians.
  • Trilogy Creep: The Last Crusade ends with Indy & co. Riding into the Sunset because Spielberg thought it would be the end. He later admits in the DVD interviews for Crystal Skull that he initially had no interest in reviving the franchise until he was convinced by George Lucas to add an additional installment.
  • Truth in Television: Indy’s statement about small scorpions being deadlier than big ones is correct. Adult scorpions can control the amount of venom they inject into what they sting, but baby scorpions lack that level of control and inject unnecessarily large amounts, making them deadlier.
  • Under the Truck: The motorcycle goes under a few library desks.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Indy gets involved in a motorcycle chase that crashes into the library of the school he works at. One student only notices this in the context of "hey, there's the professor, let's ask him about that question on the homework before he disappears for weeks again".
  • Unwanted Rescue: Justified; Marion didn't want Mutt to come chasing after her because she didn't want her son risking his life. Mutt says of course he's going to save his mother.
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    • In the opening scene, as the disguised Soviets head to Hangar 51, the driver of the lead car gets into a drag race with some American teenagers and is clearly enjoying himself.
    • Several soldiers are seen merrily dancing in front of a campfire after capturing Indy and Mutt.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend:
    • When Indy tells Mutt to start a fight by punching a random guy, the first person to hit Mutt back is the victim's girlfriend.
    • This also applies to Marion as she manages to get Indy away from the Russians using an amphibious vehicle and a tree to knock them down as they were scaling the cliff.
  • We Need a Distraction: As Russian operatives try to take Indy and Mutt at the maltshop, Indy instructs Mutt to punch a random guy, thereby starting a Diner Brawl that distracts the operatives.
  • Wham Line: "He's your son."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: When Indy and Marion are trapped in a dry sand pit, the only rescue line Mutt can find is a huge rat snake. Indy is reluctant to be rescued as such, eventually demanding they call it a rope to get him to grab it.
  • Wilhelm Scream: By a student with glasses when Indy and Mutt crash through the library on a motorcycle.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: But, he would toss one from a moving truck.
  • You're Not My Father: Mutt towards Indy after first discovering Indy is his real father. He believed his real father was Colin Williams, his stepfather, only for Marion to reveal that she and Colin started dating when Mutt was three months old.
  • Your Son All Along: The film has Indy finding out that Mutt is his son.


Bazooka Indy

As Indy hijacks the truck he's in. He does what he does best...not plan ahead at all.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / IndyPloy

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