Disney surprised fans by announcing it was developing a live-action IndianaJones TV series. Details of the potential show remain a mystery, but the likelihood of Harrison Ford becoming a star is low given the actor’s other commitments. This fact has led to speculation that the Disney+ project is either a spin-off or a continuation/reboot of The Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones.
If the live series is non-negotiable, these two options make the most sense. They allow Disney to use the Indiana Jones name without having to recast the grown-up Indy classic. But for a franchise that relies on a single character, neither choice is ideal. For true success IndianaJones TV series, producers better focus on animation – which offers much greater possibilities.
Indiana Jones Animated Series Makes Redesign Less Risky
Recasting beloved characters is always risky. The Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones was successful because the 1990s series was set during Indy’s childhood and early adulthood. Getting audiences to accept anyone other than Harrison Ford as the live-action adult Indiana Jones would be a much higher order. An animated version, on the other hand, would be a different story.
Throughout their journey, the two Star Wars: The Clone Wars and star wars rebels had to recast several characters whose live performers were unavailable. Given how often fans associate characters and actors, this could have gone wrong – but it didn’t. On the contrary, the voice actors who stepped in appropriated the roles and became beloved in their own right. While solid writing and great performances were largely responsible, the animation’s flexibility helped.
Audiences cannot see the human performers in anime series, and because of this, voice actors have no limits outside of their own vocal abilities. James Arnold Taylor is nothing like Ewan McGregor or Sir Alec Guinness, but his ability to capture the essence of these actors with his voice allowed him to create a version of Obi-Wan Kenobi that star wars fans love it just as much. A voice actor could do the same for Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones in ways a live action actor could never do. In fact, in video games like those from 1992 Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantissome have already done so.
Animation keeps Indiana Jones central to its franchise
The greater freedom offered by animation would ensure that any IndianaJones has access to the franchise’s greatest asset: Indiana Jones himself. Contrary to star wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which have entire universes to explore, the IndianaJones movies revolve around one person. Other characters – Short Round in particular – could easily have spinoffs. However, overall a IndianaJones series sans Indiana Jones is just another adventure show that could take place in any universe. The man in the hat is the main attraction.
An anime IndianaJones series would be free to explore any part of Indy’s life. It could fill in the gaps that movies and The Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones did not cover. One episode might follow Indy on an Office of Strategic Services mission during World War II and the next might feature his first encounter with Belloq. As Tales of the Jedi made with Dooku and Ahsoka Tano, it might bounce through Indy’s story but still tell complete mini-arcs. And if Harrison Ford wanted to participate, he could do so regardless of the many physical limitations that come with being an octogenarian.
With few exceptions, the different star wars and the MCU TV series have shown that Disney is adept at bringing its cinematic properties to the small screen. Whatever they have in mind for the future of Indiana Jones will likely be well done and fun to watch. But to take full advantage of the franchise’s central character and allow it to continue indefinitely, their best bet is to go from live action to the endless potential of animation.