Indiana Jones represents the archehero of our times. Actually, George Lucas created the character as a homage to movie heroes of the 1930’s, so he’s the archehero of a past time. The American Film Institute named Jones as the second greatest film hero of the past hundred years of movies. James Bond came in third. To add some dignity to the selections, number one was Atticus Finch as portrayed by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Indiana Jones was nearly Indiana Smith. In 1973, Lucas wrote The Adventures of Indiana Smith and discussed the idea with producers. He also pitched the concept for Star Wars. That movie won out.
After the success of the first Star Wars movie, Lucas took a vacation to Hawaii. While there, he met up with his friend Steven Spielberg. Spielberg told Lucas that he wanted to make a James Bond film, but Lucas told him he had a better story. Lucas told him about Indiana Smith and the plot for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Spielberg liked it, telling Lucas it was “a James Bond film without the hardware.” For reasons lost in time, Spielberg changed the last name from Smith to Jones.
Indiana Jones has the elements of a classic hero. He’s brave, but with a quirk. He’s afraid of snakes. He has a special talent. He expertly handles a whip. He possesses a signature element, his Stetson. Like many superheroes, he has an alternative identity. He’s a professor of archeology. Clark Kent removes his glasses and he becomes Superman. Professor Jones changes from a tweed suit to khakis, attaches his whip, puts on his hat, and he becomes Indiana Jones the adventurer.
The alternative identity and the quirks endear the hero to the reader and the viewer. The hero is someone we could know. I wrote about James Bond in a previous blog posting. It pleased me to learn that Spielberg wanted to make a Bond movie but chose Indiana Jones instead. Bond and Jones have similarities, but notable differences. I mentioned in the Bond posting that an observer wrote ‘men want to be James Bond.’ Indiana Jones is more of a hero you want as a buddy.
Indiana Jones influenced the creation of Nicholas Foxe. Nick is suave and a man of the world like James Bond, but Bond doesn’t muck around in caves. Indy and Nick do. Nick is even an archeologist like Indy but needs not teach for a living. He’s rich. His wealth provides a lot of latitude in how to finance his adventures. But Bond and Jones are not the only heroes who influenced the creation of Nicholas Foxe. I’ll post more later in this blog.