Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny uses CGI to de-age Harrison Ford, which is very different from Steven Spielberg’s vision for the franchise.
With Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny employing de-aging technology on Harrison Ford for a younger Indiana Jones, the sequel looks set to betray the vision of co-creator Steven Spielberg. Director James Mangold is steering the ship this time around, and Spielberg is sitting in as producer. Spielberg never really went into much detail on his decision to step down, outside of saying he wanted to see what a new director could do with the franchise. For Harrison Ford de-aging is a new technology, as the actor has never had to undergo it before. After the highly divisive nature of 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, that’s something everyone involved surely hopes to avoid, hence the controversial Indiana Jones de-aging issue.
It’s been shown in the trailer that a younger version of Harrison Ford’s Indy will be in the movie. Before the trailer dropped, there were clues to the Harrison Ford de-aging. Stunt doubles have been seen wearing masks of a young Ford’s face, as well as Ford himself sporting what looks like motion capture markers on his face, a technique used to assist CGI artists. Indiana Jones de-aging runs entirely counter to Spielberg’s stated original vision for the film. In 2012, Spielberg that “I would never do an Indy retread where I took Indiana’s face, the way it exists in 2011 and ‘youngify’ him. I would never do that.” (via New York Daily News) Yet, that’s exactly what a Mangold-directed Indiana Jones 5 appears to be doing with a younger Indiana Jones.
Considering that iconic Indiana Jones actor Harrison Ford is in his late 70s, it is understandable that director James Mangold and studio Disney might want to use Indiana Jones de-aging tech in order to present a younger Indiana Jones. After all, many felt Ford looked too old to be a believable action hero in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and that was released 14 years ago at this point. While the Harrison Ford de-aging debacle may seem like a non-issue, Spielberg’s previous comments make him sound dead-set against the idea of pretending Ford’s age is lower and having him portray a younger Indiana Jones. In that same interview, Spielberg also added “Harrison has to be the age that he is when we make the picture. He’s going to have to play that age, and we’ll write that into the script.”
As far as that last part goes, it’s unclear at present if Indiana Jones 5’s still mysterious story does indeed take into account Ford’s current age at what capacity when it comes to how it characterizes Indy. After all, it seems like the de-aged Ford will only be used for one or a handful of flashback sequences, with Ford’s natural appearance used for the majority of the sequel’s story. Keeping the use of de-aging in Indiana Jones 5 to a minimum would certainly be more in line with Spielberg’s previous pledge to avoid altering Dr. Jones’ age, but doing it at all still represents a clear shift away from Spielberg’s vision after Mangold took the reins.
The Indiana Jones De-Aging Looks Amazing
Despite Steven Spielberg probably not being happy about the Indiana Jones de-aging, based on the latest Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny footage, the Harrison Ford de-aging looks pretty good. First, de-aging technology seems to be used sparingly throughout the film. At some points, it looks like a younger Indiana Jones is shown in flashbacks doing daring deeds not yet seen in the Indiana Jones canon. If The Dial of Destiny is employing flashbacks, then de-aging technology would be wholly necessary; and since it’s at their disposal, why not use it?
If The Dial of Destiny is choosing to go the time travel route, which is rumored to be a factor in the upcoming film, then showing a younger Indiana Jones would also be necessary. What the Indiana Jones 5 trailer has already shown is already Disney’s best go at de-aging technology yet, and the de-aged Indiana Jones looks even better than Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. It’s worth pointing out that by the time Spielberg started his career in cinema, de-aging technology wasn’t a factor, and there’s no telling whether he would’ve used it in some of his films if it were. Either way, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny could be betraying Spielberg’s original vision, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing, and at least it doesn’t look like botched CGI.