So now that Indy 4 has arrived, and likely represents the last time we will see Harrison Ford in the role, the question we face is: who will be the next quintessential action hero?
Because let’s face it, Indy defined “action hero” for many moviegoers, especially those of my generation who were about 10 years old when Raiders premiered in 1981 and shook up our expectations of what an action film should be (even if it was within the tried and true traditions of the old adventure serials).
I do not think they should continue the series with Shia LaBeouf. Because what would you call it? It wouldn’t really be “Indiana Jones” anymore, because Ford was Indy — and I just don’t think the interest would be there without him.
Personally, I had mixed feelings about “Crystal Skull”. There were too many bullshit escapes from danger that no human being could survive, let alone a 65-year-old man in admittedly fantastic shape doing his best Wile E. Coyote impression. (cough — nuclear test site! — cough)
It also seemed like they threw in all these things they thought the fanboys wanted to see, whether they improved the story or not. Having the Ark of the Covenant glimpsed in the warehouse is I guess like the moral equivalent of sticking Chewbacca in Episode III, and I’m sure the same bearded filmmaker was responsible for both those choices. It’s nice to see familiar things, but at least have a valid reason that does not feel forced. As for the final scene, it smacks of something fans have wanted to see for years, but the problem is that the entire movie leading up to it did not really earn that emotional payoff.
Anyway, my bet is that Indy is done, so who do we now look to in the name of cinematic adventure? Well, for one thing, it’s probably best that we have no further visits from action heroes whose franchises are decades past their prime. Like Rambo or Rocky Balboa. Enough is enough.
They should let Ellen Ripley rest. And it’s good that Eastwood finally came out and said Dirty Harry is done. (Though what I fear there more than anything is a remake. I’m sorry, but NO ONE ELSE CAN PLAY DIRTY HARRY — and if that is not one of God’s commandments, it should be.)
Personally, there are two characters I’ll be looking to: Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, and Daniel Craig’s James Bond.
Downey as Stark is one of those magical casting choices that seems so perfect, both on film and even before any footage was even shot. His own personal life mirrors the character so well, with both being well known celebrities with hard-partying lifestyles who clearly are capable of so much more. That Downey wound up in the role, and that the movie turned out so well, seems almost like something written in the stars. Especially with superhero movies, where so much depends on the choice of actor in the lead role.
Downey so effortlessly and convincingly makes the role his own that I, and I’m sure many other filmgoers, are eagerly awaiting his further adventures. He may well be the best example of superhero casting since Christopher Reeve as Superman, because we can believe him as the character without any effort — in fact, the role seems almost tailor-made for him. (Unlike, say, Michael Keaton as Batman, although I know he has many fans and I’m sure I’ll end up hearing from some of them after this.)
As for Daniel Craig, my first impression of him after seeing “Casino Royale” was that if Steve McQueen had ever gotten to play Bond, this is what it would have been like. Craig is not only carrying on the Bond tradition, which has its own history and baggage, but he also exemplifies “cool” as few movie stars have since McQueen — not to mention that he looks and dresses like McQueen a bit at times in the film. If Barbara Broccoli had somehow sensed this in making her decision to cast Craig, then frankly she is a much smarter producer than many gave her credit for after the four Brosnan Bond flicks.
What do you think? Who will the classic action heroes of tomorrow be?