Collider has taken an interesting look back and the long and interesting development process of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As many fans know it wasn’t easy for Spielberg, Lucas and Ford to find the right way to bring Indy back to the big screen. Fans definitely have mixed feelings about the 4th Indy adventure, but Collider reminds us that the creative team definitely took the process very seriously.
1989’s trilogy-ending Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade very much feels like the final film in the franchise. It literally ends with the heroes riding off into the sunset, and while Lucas would continue the series with the TV show The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, for all intents and purposes Last Crusade closed the book on Indy’s adult story. An entire essay could be written about the alternate versions of Last Crusade, but that’s for another day. In the context of Crystal Skull, it’s simply important to remember that with the release of the 1989 film, there was a sense of completion in the air.
And yet, when Ford came in to record a cameo for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in 1992, Lucas was struck with inspiration yet again—what about an Indiana Jones story set in the 1950s, drawing from the sci-fi B-movies of the era? Indeed, the entire inception of the Indiana Jones franchise came from Lucas’ love of the serials of the 1930s and 40s. When Spielberg was distraught over having been denied the opportunity to direct a James Bond movie, Lucas pitched him “something better.” That something better was Raiders of the Lost Ark, and this process of Lucas coming up with a story and Spielberg executing it would be repeated on every film in the franchise.
So with newfound inspiration for how to conceivably craft a fresh-feeling Indiana Jones 4, Lucas pitched the idea of a sci-fi-tinged sequel to Ford and Spielberg—both of whom were less than enthused. So throughout the 1990s, Lucas tasked various writers to draw up drafts of a screenplay that would find Indiana Jones confronting aliens. Jeb Stuart (The Fugitive) was the first writer involved, working on a script from 1993 to 1995 called Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. His script would include many elements that eventually showed up in the final film: army ants, Russians as the villains, Indiana Jones pursuing a mysterious alien cylinder, and Indy getting married. In Stuart’s version, Indy married a woman named Dr. Elaine McGregor, with Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood only appearing via cameo during the wedding ceremony alongside Short Round, Sallah, and Henry Jones Sr.
Read more at Collider.