Indiana Jones and the Problematic “Hero”


I was recently rewatching Raiders of the Lost Ark for fun. I have loved the film since I was a child. It’s one that was shown to me on one of the movie nights my family and I would have when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was older, however, that I realized two things about this so-called hero: 1. He is, or at one time was, predatory to young girls and 2. He literally does nothing in the film to stop the Nazi’s from obtaining the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, if anything, they find it because of him.

Let’s start off with my first claim. There is a very troubling bit of dialogue between our hero, Indiana Jones, and Marion upon their re-introduction (beginning at 1:56).

Follow that up with this transcript from the conference between Lawrence Kasdan (L), George Lucas(G), and Steven Spielberg (S) when they were developing the film:

G — We have to get them cemented into a very strong relationship. A bond.
L — I like it if they already had a relationship at one point. Because then you don’t have to build it.
G — I was thinking that this old guy could have been his mentor. He could have known this little girl when she was just a kid. Had an affair with her when she was eleven.
L — And he was forty-two.
G — He hasn’t seen her in twelve years. Now she’s twenty-two. It’s a real strange relationship.
S — She had better be older than twenty-two.
G — He’s thirty-five, and he knew her ten years ago when he was twenty-five and she was only twelve.
G — It would be amusing to make her slightly young at the time.
S — And promiscuous. She came onto him.
G — Fifteen is right on the edge. I know it’s an outrageous idea, but it is interesting. Once she’s sixteen or seventeen it’s not interesting anymore. But if she was fifteen and he was twenty-five and they actually had an affair the last time they met. And she was madly in love with him and he…

I cannot say enough how troubling this is. And, if you do not see what is wrong with this entire exchange, as well as what is written into the film, we need to have a very long discussion.

That’s my biggest issue with Indiana Jones being revered as such a hero. The other issue is minor in comparison, but Indiana Jones literally leads the Nazi’s right to the Ark of the Covenant and does not stop them from opening it and all getting fried. They would have either never found the Ark or taken much longer to do so without Indy getting involved at all. It’s absolutely baffling that you can have a main character of a film that, if you were to remove the main character, literally nothing would change. The only thing that would probably change is that Marion may be dead. But, then again, maybe she would have been able to defend herself. But, I guess we’ll never know.

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