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The Ultimate Guide to Watching Indiana Jones

Jul 25, 2023

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WE CAN all can relate to FOMO, especially when it comes to movies and television. In this day and age of mass media consumption, there’s not much worse than noticing that it feels like everyone is suddenly talking about something, only to… not have any idea what it’s all about. Sometimes, getting in on whatever it is can feel a little bit impenetrable—the

Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, is up to 30+ movies and several TV series. It’s a lot. Luckily, though, Summer 2023’s offerings are a bit easier to crack, starting with the return of a certain Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr.

That’s right—42 years after his first big screen adventure in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford is back for one last international ride as Indiana Jones, fedora and whip of course in tow. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits theaters with a new director (James Mangold steps in for Steven Spielberg), a strong supporting cast (including villain Mads Mikkelsen and sidekick Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and tons of lore and excitement carrying over from the franchise’s past outings.

And while 42 years of Indiana Jones storytelling may seem a bit daunting, we can assure you, it’s not so bad—and is, in fact, quite a bit of fun. The series has just six films (and a TV series as a bonus, if you’re hungry for even more), and while they jump around chronologically a tiny bit, they’re all easy watches where Ford’s charm as Jones is always a highlight, second only to the set pieces that a director as masterful as Spielberg is able to constantly gift to audiences.

So, even if you’ve never watched a second of an Indiana Jones movie, you’ve got no need to worry. Below, we take you through the best ways to become your friend group’s resident Indiana Jones superfan, just in time to see Dial of Destiny (as fun an adventure as you’ll see in the theater this year) on as big a screen as possible.

Some people might be interested in watching every Indiana Jones movie/project in chronological order…


For reasons I cannot quite explain, for some reason people always seem to be interested in watching franchise installments in “chronological order.” If this is the order in which they were released, then, sure! Why not. Knock yourself out.

But people who prefer to watch things in “chronological order” when that’s not the order in which the things were released are making a grave, grave mistake. When something is set up as a prequel, it’s being designed with the idea that audiences know what ends up happening; they know where this story eventually leads. So the excitement isn’t necessarily in the outcome, but rather in the how. When you break this intended order and watch in “chronological order,” you mess this all up.

Anyway. The Indiana Jones series is basically all in chronological order anyway, with the exception of Temple of Doom serving as a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Last Crusade opens with a flashback sequence—featuring the late River Phoenix as young Indy—but the rest of the movie is pure sequel. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones is a TV projects and not a film, so we really only recommend checking that out if you’ve already seen all the movies (probably multiple times) and truly just want more.

Though we don’t suggest it, here’s the chronological order of everything in the Indiana Jones series.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (1992-1994)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
(opening scene) (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (rest of the movie) (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

But we recommend watching the Indiana Jones franchise in release order.

The Indiana Jones series has been masterfully crafted by some of the best filmmakers we have, initially a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, with James Mangold (the man behind Logan, Ford v Ferrari, and Walk the Line) stepping in for Dial of Destiny. And watching in the order they were released, in our opinion, is essential: each film builds off the last, not particularly in a way that makes the series ultra-serialized, but in a way that it’s simply to see how the series and Indiana himself evolve.

You can rent all of these films on Amazon Video, but they’re also all available to watch on Disney+.

Stream Indiana Jones on Disney+

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)


The unquestioned masterpiece of the Indiana Jones franchise is the very first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Viewers meet Indiana Jones—an adventurer/university professor who is, to put it simply, one of the most charming and charismatic characters of all time—and follow him as he races against an old acquaintance and some Nazis working for Adolf Hitler to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant. The movie features some of the most iconic action sequences in the history of film, and is widely considered to be one of Steven Spielberg’s best and most signature films—which for him, obviously, is really saying something.

Stream It Here

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)


Temple of Doom is pretty clearly the weakest film of the original Indiana Jones trilogy. And while it has certainly not aged particularly well and was made at a rough time in its filmmakers lives (Spielberg and Lucas were both going through divorces during production), it still comes with a number of incredibly fun action/adventure sequences and that signature Spielberg visual flourish. Plus, if you want to know why everyone originally loved 2023 Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, it’s for his role as Indy’s wise-cracking sidekick, Short Round. He is an awesome kid, and if anyone felt like capitalizing on Quan’s comeback, we would not object to a new Short Round project in the slightest.

Stream It Here

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade dares to ask an ever-important question: what if we brought together two of the biggest movie stars of all time? The third installment of the franchise leans hard into a father and son theme, and through meeting Dr. Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), we learn so much about Indiana Jones and how he came to be the hero we know and love. Connery is awesome and a natural fit in this movie, which, naturally, is about the search for the Holy Grail. What else? The opening scene—featuring River Phoenix as a young Indy on one of his first adventures—is an all-time tone setter.

Stream It Here

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)


Almost 20 years after his last adventure, Indy returned in 2008 for the polarizing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. You may have heard bad things about this movie through the years, but we’ll tell you bluntly: it’s definitely fun, and pretty darn solid. Is it a perfect movie? No it’s not! Is Shia LaBeouf’s character, Mutt Williams, fairly ridiculous? He is! But the movie’s opening 20-30 minutes are impeccable, with one thrilling sequence after the next. And while LaBeouf’s Mutt is subpar, the movie also adds a very entertaining scoundrel character named Mac, played by Ray Winstone, and the movie’s villain is played by a fantastic-as-always Cate Blanchett. Some CGI hasn’t particularly aged well, but if you come into this movie with no baggage, you’ll probably have a good time. It’s a classic Indy adventure.

Stream It Here

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)


Indy’s final adventure comes another 15 years after his last, and with a new director—James Mangold—at the helm. It’s fair to have trepidation about an Indiana Jones movie where the titular character is 80 years old, but Mangold and Ford do a great job of making this movie feel like Indy of old in the best ways while still updating it in a way to keep up with the movies of 2023. Indy is joined for the fun by his goddaughter (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, having a blast) and comes to blows with a new set of villains, played by the always charismatic Mads Mikkelsen and Boyd Holbrook. If you recognize the type of movies that the Indiana Jones series has always been—pulpy, swashbuckling, genre adventures—you’re going to have a great time with Indy’s last ride.

Buy Tickets Here

Bonus: The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (1992 – 1994)


If you reallllly loved all of the above, and have rewatched them so much that you really just need something more, then we have good news: there’s more, although it only barely involves Harrison Ford. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles aired for two season and 28 episodes between 1992 and 1993, followed by four more made-for-TV movies that aired until 1996; Young Indy was played primarily by Sean Patrick Flannery.

These stories, now, exist in the form of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, after the series was recut into 22 movie-ish episodes back in 1999. Some of the lore is a little loosey goosey with everything else (there are references to an older Indy having a daughter, which we’ve never heard of elsewhere, and no reference to the Mutt Williams (Indy’s son).

But if you want more Indiana Jones? Well, it’s here.

Stream The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Here

Stream The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Here

Related to Indiana Jones…

Harrison Ford Confirms Retirement as Indiana Jones

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