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Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)
He's the man that needs no intro—the reason that pick-up artists think that fedoras are sexy, the reason that thousands of wide-eyed undergrads enroll in Archeology 101 each semester, and the reason that we all realize that it's possible to own up to being terrified of snakes and still be a hottie.
He's Indiana Jones, the sweaty, womanizing, grave robbing, underdog archeologist looking to atone for past sins.
But the Indy of Temple of Doom is different from the Indy made famous in Raiders of the Lost Ark. You may think you know Indiana Jones, but this installment shows us his darker side.
Temple' s a prequel, so Indy's grave-robbing bad boy tendencies are even more apparent here. In the movie's opening scene, we watch as Indy bargains the remains of a Chinese emperor for a diamond.
Indy, we thought you were a professor, not a buyer for Diamond Gallery. And shouldn't those remains be in a museum? In Temple of Doom, Indy's only concerned with personal fortune and with saving his own butt.
Perhaps more alarming is the way Indy guiltlessly uses Willie as a pawn to get the diamond from La. Willie's a fellow American and, unlike the henchman Indy skewers, she's an innocent in this situation. But Indy stabs her with a fork and threatens to kill her if he doesn't get what he wants:
INDY: I suggest you give me what you owe, or anything goes.
Hey, at least he was paying attention to the two English words from her opening number. Ladies love it when a man actually listens. But we get no indication that Indy is bluffing here. Would he actually hurt her to manipulate Lao if that tactic would work? We're not sure, but we do know one thing: Indy's not the nice academic we meet in Raiders.
That's not to say that Temple of Doom's Indy is 100% bad news. Sure, he's a little selfish and misogynist in the beginning, but he makes up for it being loyal to his companions. When Wu Han's shot in cold blood by one of Lao's henchman, Indy soon retaliates by throwing a flaming skewer through the man's chest. Did someone order BBQ?
Let this be a lesson: if you hurt Indy's buddies, you'll get hurt tenfold in return.
Because we know Indy does have a soft spot somewhere under his rugged exterior, the scene where he mistreats Short Round is all the more heartbreaking. After being force-fed the black blood of the Kali Ma (a Cold Stone flavor we've personally always avoided) Indy's brainwashed into giving in to his most violent impulses; he embraces the Dark Side.
As Darth Indy attempts to sacrifice Willie, Short Round begs him to snap of his trance:
SHORT ROUND: You're my best friend. Wake up, Indy.
Indy definitely has a soft spot for his favorite ex-pick pocket, but the boy's plea doesn't elicit tears or a bear hug. Instead, Indy backhands the kid in the face. Is this the dark magic of Kali Ma at work, or does this action speak to an icy heart below Jones' trademark brown leather jacket?
Probably a bit of both, to be honest.
But this bit of kid-smacking marks a turning point for Indy. After Short Round burns Indy with a torch and breaks the spell, Indy's a changed man. He seems to realize how easy it is to slip into the dark side, and his hard heart begins to soften.
Even when Willie spits in his face, Indy acts like a true gentleman. He knows he deserves it—he was trying to flame-broil her, after all. Even though he was brainwashed, he takes responsibility for his actions. Slowly but surely, we see the tough guy Indy of Temple of Doom morph into the more even-keeled and big-hearted bloke we first met in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But Indy doesn't just shape shift into a stand-up guy. He also grows into the honorable archeologist that shouts, "It belongs in a museum" in later Indiana Jones films when Bad Greedy Dudes want to turn quick profits by selling off invaluable artifacts.
And this metamorphosis is even more stunning, because Temple of Doom shows us an Indy that initially…wants to turn a quick profit by selling off invaluable artifacts.
When Indy finds out about the Sankara stones, you can almost see the dollar signs dancing in his eyes. Short Round asks Indy what they are, and instead of explaining their historical and religious value to the area, he has a much more self-centered answer.
INDY: Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.
Not a phrase you expect to hear from an archeologist…but one that's totally in line with a guy who would trade a person's remains for a diamond.
Somewhere during the course of this film—say, around the time where Indy finds dozens of children being used for child labor purposes—Indy realizes that recovering these stones for a profit is similar to the reason Mola Ram wants them.
Mola Ram's idea of fortune is to have power over the world. But if Indy were to take the stones and sell them, he'd be basically endorsing the use of child slavery. And (even though Indy employs a Chinese orphan as a driver), this isn't a line he is willing to cross.
Plus, Indy sees the value of the stones to the impoverished villagers. Returning the stones to them gives them hope. And Indy, like a MasterCard commercial, teaches us that hope is priceless.
Willie comments on Indy's change of heart in the movie's final scene.
WILLIE: But then it would've given you your fortune and glory.
INDY: Anything could happen. It's a long way to Delhi.
He knows that there will be more opportunities for adventure, and for fortune. We think he'll do just fine. Just watch out for giant boulders, okay, Dr. Jones?
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