Bringing Indiana Jones back took more than a decade of debate.
LOS ANGELES — Marion Ravenwood might have been speaking for us all when she set eyes on Indiana Jones for the first time in years.
Her caustic greeting to the archaeologist-adventurer in 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark”: “Indiana Jones. I always knew someday you’d come walking back through my door.”
It’s been 19 years since Indy literally rode off into the sunset in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” but like Marion, could anyone doubt that the world’s most famous tomb raider would come back into our lives one day?
For 27 years, Indy has stood as one of cinema’s ultimate Everyman heroes, a poster boy for the idea that there are some good men you can never, ever keep down.
“He’s a real guy. He’s just like us,” said George Lucas, who dreamed up the character and re-teams with director Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford as Indy for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” due out May 22.
“He makes lots of mistakes,” Lucas said. “He kind of goofs up. He has the same kind of thinking that we have. He’s beat up all the time. It’s like he’s not a superhero. He’s just an average Joe that’s always in over his head that somehow seems to get through it.”
The new movie co-stars Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko, a Russian operative with crisp black bangs who’s after the Crystal Skull of Akator, an ancient artifact that could help the Soviet Union dominate the world.
Ray Winstone plays a new Indy ally, and the film also co-stars John Hurt and Jim Broadbent.
“Raiders” fans are thrilled over the return of Karen Allen as Marion, while Shia LaBeouf plays Indy’s new sidekick, Mutt Williams.
An early press kit for “Crystal Skull” describes Mutt as a “rebellious 20-year-old with a chip on his shoulder and some personal business to discuss with Dr. Jones.” Fans have speculated that Mutt is the love child of Indy and Marion, though the filmmakers won’t say.
Resurrecting Indy took more than a decade of debate, disagreement and compromise among the film’s three principals, Spielberg and Ford disliking a way-out-there initial idea Lucas had.
Though the filmmakers have been tightlipped on the plot, the era — 1957 instead of the 1930s — and the trailer’s image of a crate marked “Roswell, New Mexico, 1947,” imply aliens are involved. Roswell is where UFO buffs claim an alien spaceship crashed in 1947.
Just as the first three Indy flicks were inspired by the supernatural B-movies of the 1930s, Lucas conceded he took his cue for the new film from the equivalent of the 1950s, when B-movies centered on extraterrestrial menace.
Just how far “Crystal Skull” might venture into “E.T.” territory remains to be seen, though it clearly was not as far as Lucas wanted.
“The MacGuffin of it slowed down a little bit from what my original enthusiastic version was. Again, that’s the way it works with Steven and Harrison and I,” Lucas said. “We’re not going to do anything anyone’s uncomfortable with. We want to do something everybody likes, we in the group, the three of us.
“They wanted to go off on some other tangent. I said, ‘I’m not going to do that. I’m going to stick with this no matter what, so we either do this or we don’t. That’s it.’ Finally, we got something that we could all compromise on and all be happy with. It wasn’t quite as wacky as I wanted it to be, but it still is subtle and nice and works really well and has the same idea behind it.”
Likewise, “Crystal Skull” has the same idea behind the action, presented in the Indy-making-it-up-as-he-goes-along style.