4 Reasons Indiana Jones Is The GOAT Movie Franchise

Standalone movies are great, but the real heavyweight stories get the franchise treatment. In the past fifty years, there have been some phenomenal franchises, many of which are still going with no end in sight. 

We can enjoy them all on their own merit, but let’s be honest, it’s fun to pick favourites. Of course, the topic of the best movie franchise of all time naturally attracts fierce debate, and with good reason — there are plenty to choose from. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Pirates of the Caribbean are just a few that movie lovers are happy to watch time and time again. 

The honour, however, must — in this article, at least — go to Indiana Jones, which last year bowed out for good with the release of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Here’s what makes the franchise just so special. 

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Movie franchises exist because there’s a significant appeal from fans, but that doesn’t mean that everyone loves each franchise. Some, like James Bond, continually do well because of the loyalty of obsessive fans, not because they’re universally beloved. 

Indiana Jones fandom isn’t highly intense, but it is widely spread. Unlike Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, everyone loves sitting down to watch an Indiana Jones movie, especially the first three. When you can’t decide what movie to watch as a group on a Saturday evening, you can’t go wrong with an Indy movie — everyone will be on board. 

Pop Culture Influence

You can see signs of the influence of Indiana Jones everywhere. The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Nicholas Cage classic National Treasure all owe a debt of gratitude to the success of the Indiana Jones franchise, and it’s also served as a significant source of inspiration for game developers, too — popular games series Uncharted and Tomb Raider both have an Indiana Jones feel, while Gonzo’s Quest, one of the most popular slot games of all time, takes players on a Jones-esque adventure. It’s easy to take the existence of all these games for granted, but they simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Harrison Ford-led franchise. 

It Made Archeology Cool

Basing a movie on archaeology was a risk in itself, or at least it was at the time. Convincing moviegoers that archaeology was cool was another level of audacity altogether. And yet, not only did it work, but it wasn’t even questioned. Part of that has to do with the rugged attractiveness of Harrison Ford, but even his charm wouldn’t have been able to carry the faintly preposterous concept on its own. The writing, directing, and all-out fun of the spectacle allowed audiences to instantly suspend their disbelief and fully engage with a movie that is fundamentally about history (albeit with minimal historical accuracy). 

And if you don’t think that basing a movie on a less-than-glamorous topic is highly impressive, then you try to make an engaging, roller coaster ride of a movie based on, let’s say, tax returns. You’ll have your work cut out.

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It Has Longevity — and a Neat Bow at the End

The first Indiana Jones movie hit the screens back in 1981. The last — and final — Jones movie came out last year, in 2023. That’s more than forty years that cinema-goers have been enjoying the archaeological adventures of Ford’s character. 

The only movie in the franchise considered a fan failure was 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but even that movie is now looked back on with fondness. The final movie, Dial of Destiny, is unquestionably the last (Harrison Ford is now 81, and it’s time to hang up the fedora) and the writers managed to do something that many other hit TV shows and movies failed to do — wrap it up in a neat bow that satisfies everyone. Aside from providing a fitting end to one of movie cinema’s great characters, it also simply delighted audiences, which is exactly what the franchise set out to do way back in 1981.